Saturday, March 5, 2011

Hawks' 3rd Period Propels Them To Win Over Canes

Carolina Hurricanes vs. Chicago Blackhawks
 Final Score: 5-2 Hawks
Scoring Summary 
1st Period
0:55-CHI-Jonathan Toews [26] (Patrick Sharp [27])
6:23-CAR-Eric Staal [29] (Cory Stillman [18], Erik Cole [23])
9:51-CHI-Bryan Bickell [15] (Brent Seabrook [32], Marian Hossa [23])
2nd Period
3rd Period
2:50-CHI-Ryan Johnson [1] (Chris Campoli [12], Brian Campbell [20])
3:57-CHI-Dave Bolland [15] (Hossa [24], Bickell [19])
7:22-CHI-Patrick Kane [21] (Sharp [28], Campoli [13])
12:09-CAR-Jeff Skinner [23] (Joe Corvo [24], Jussi Jokinen [29]) 

Coming off of a dramatic 3-2 overtime victory the night before, the Carolina Hurricanes rolled into the United Center to take on the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday night.
 Backup goaltender Justin Peters got the start in net after Cam Ward had started the previous 24 games.
It wasn't pretty early for the Canes, but great for the Hawks. 55 seconds in, Jonathan Toews notched his 26th goal of the season by going low blocker side on Peters from the left hashmarks. The play all started when Patrick Sharp stripped the puck away from Cory Stillman at the top of the right circle of the Canes' zone.

The Canes tied it up about 6 minutes later. 
They took advantage of a Niklas Hjalmarsson offensive zone turnover from just inside the blue line. Stillman corralled the puck and brought it up ice with Erik Cole with him. He dished it to Cole just before the Hawks' blue line and Cole went to pass it back to Stillman in the slot. Hjalmarsson got back in time to break up the pass, and the puck stayed a couple of feet behind him and Stillman.
In came Canes captain Eric Staal to pick up the loose puck at the right hashmarks and he fired it by rookie goaltender Corey Crawford blocker side for his team leading and 29th goal of the year. Hjalmarsson was in front of Crawford and he didn't see it.

Just before the halfway mark of the period, and after some hard work and cycling from Marian Hossa and Dave Bolland, Brent Seabrook bombed a shot from the right point and it clanged off of the post and into a bunch of traffic in front of Peters. Bryan Bickell somehow found the puck and put it home to restore the Hawks' lead.

In the second, Peters was a rock for the Canes and kept them in the game. He made multiple remarkable saves that had the UC faithful wondering how the Hawks didn't put the puck in the back of the net.

One of those times included when he stoned Bickell in his attempt to get his second of the night with 16:14 left in the period. He came across the crease and bodied down Bickell's shot from the right hashmarks.

There were some scary moments for the Hawks on the power play as Pat Dwyer got past the defense at his own blue line for a shorthanded breakaway. In all alone, he went to his backhand to try and sneak the puck past Crawford's right pad, but Crawford made the save. Dwyer managed to get the rebound, too, and even tried a wraparound attempt, but Crawford still shut the door on him. Canes fans are used to seeing the 5'11" forward provide good, hard working shifts night in and night out whether it's on the penalty kill or even strength.

About 3 minutes into the second, newly acquired defenseman Chris Campoli led the rush up the ice and into the Canes' zone. He gave it to Ryan Johnson at the top of the left circle and Johnson threw it on net. It got by Peters for his first of the year because it deflected in off of Joni Pitkanen's skate.

A minute and seven seconds later, the Hawks struck again.
From under the left circle and to the right a bit, Hossa put the puck on net and Peters gave up a pretty small rebound. Bolland came in, following Hossa, and got to the rebound before Jamie McBain and chipped it in to give the Hawks a 3 goal lead.

At the 7:22 mark, Patrick Kane joined in on the fun. 
From the slot, Sharp sent a backhanded pass from the slot over to Kane in the right circle. Kane one timed it to give him 21 goals on the year.

Canes rookie phenom Jeff Skinner added his 23rd of the year a couple of minutes after halfway just to change the final score pretty much. 
Skinner provided traffic out in front of Crawford and Joe Corvo sent a shot from the point towards the net. Skinner was able to get to the rebound and shovel it home.

Canes centerman Brandon Sutter summed up their third period very well.
"We just kind of collapsed, I guess," He told the media, "I think through two periods we probably didn't have our best game but our goalie made some saves for us to keep us in it, and yeah, we just kind of collapsed.
"We started cheating a little bit, [we] weren't playing good defensively and they're going to capitalize on that."

Staal also added to the media: "It kind of got away from us in the third period and, you know, they got some skill and some guys that can find the back of the net and they did that in the third.
"We didn't have a good start. They seemed to skate it around us pretty good the first ten minutes of the game. They gave us one shot and we gave them probably a little bit too much respect as far as their skill goes and then we kind of got to our game a little bit better and [...] in the second period had a better push and some good chances, as did they.
"Petey made some good saves to keep it at 2-1 and would've been nice to get to 2-2 and then see what happens."

As far as the home team goes, that third period was one of their best in a while.
"We've talked about [our third periods] a lot this season," Brian Campbell told after the game, "We talked about it Monday night in Minnesota and that didn't happen and obviously we did again Wednesday night.
"[Friday night] was better. I know they played [Thursday] night, so I'm sure they're a little bit tired, but it was better all around. We gotta learn from it and grow as a team."  

The win was also the Hawks' 7th in a row and with every game, their confidence seems to be improving.
"It's in the air here," Campoli said, "Guys believe that we're gonna win. We find ways to score goals, we get up on teams and [Friday] we buried them.
"Good teams do those things. They don't let teams back in games and as of late, maybe we have a little bit, but we still find ways to win and at the end of the day, that's the bottom line."

"We're just playing better overall hockey, working harder," Campbell said, "Obviously, the lines that are going have some chemistry and feel good. We got depth and skill in all areas of the four lines. I think that's the biggest part of it. We're just working harder for pucks and winning battles."

Crawford is appreciative with what he's seeing in front of him.
"We keep getting a ton of chances and keep scoring a ton of goals.
"For a goaltender, that's pretty nice when your guys are scoring that many goals every night," He said with a smile.
"We're playing great, we're playing awesome. We've been good all year, especially offensively we've been good; [it] hasn't really changed." 


•The Hawks were monsters on faceoffs Friday night. Granted, the Canes aren't that great of a faceoff team...
The percentages of the Hawks' centermen were:
-Jake Dowell [the birthday boy]: 91.7%
-Ryan Johnson: 73.7%
-Jonathan Toews: 72.2%
-Dave Bolland: 50%
•The Hawks outshot the Canes 29-20.
-Both teams went 0-2 on the power play.
-The faceoffs wins were 47-19 Hawks.
•The 3 stars of the game were:
1. Marian Hossa
The Hawks' right winger had two assists on the night. 
2. Ryan Johnson
The Hawks' gritty centerman tallied his first goal in a Hawk uniform and played a solid game in which he played 13:42.
3. Jonathan Toews
The Captain kept on rolling with his 26th goal of the year.
Patrick Kane played in his 300th NHL game Friday. He's the second youngest Hawk to reach the mark, next to Grant Mulvey.
•The scratches for the Hawks were Jordan Hendry [torn ACL], Fernando Pisani, and John Scott [both healthy].
Duncan Keith led the Hawks in TOI, playing 25:57. He also led them in shifts with 29.
-Troy Brouwer had 4 hits.
-Patrick Sharp had 3 takeaways.
-Jonathan Toews had 5 shots on goal.
-Niklas Hjalmarsson and Chris Campoli each had 2 blocked shots. Campoli also record his first points in a Hawk uniform with assists on Ryan Johnson's and Patrick Kane's goals.

Post Game Interviews

Corey Crawford
Brian Campbell
Chris Campoli 
Duncan Keith
Coach Q 
Ryan Johnson's Interview on WGN Radio
Game Highlights

Jonathan Toews celebrates his first period goal with Duncan Keith.

Bryan Bickell celebrates with Dave Bolland and Brent Seabrook after he gave the Hawks a 2-1 lead in the first period.

The Hawks salute the home crowd after their 5-2 win.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Hurricanes vs Blackhawks Preview 3-4-11

Friday night's game between the Blackhawks and the Hurricanes is huge for both clubs. It's not necessarily because they're playing each other, but for their respective playoffs hopes.

Currently, the Hawks sit 4th in the tight Western Conference with a record of 35-23-6 and 76 points. The Hurricanes are in 7th in the Eastern Conference with a record of 31-25-9 and 71 points, only up on the 8th place Rangers by one point.
[**This was before all of Thursday's games had ended.]


Jonathan Toews celebrates after scoring his second goal of the night on Wednesday.

The Hawks are coming into Friday night as one of the hottest teams in the NHL. They're currently on a six game winning streak and are 7-1-2 in their last 10 games.
 In those 10 games, the top of line of Jonathan Toews centering Patrick Sharp and Patrick Kane has been red hot. They've accumulated 37 points in that span [14G, 23A]. Toews leads that line with 15 of those points [6G, 9A]. Sharp and Kane both have 11. [Sharp has 6 goals and 5 assists whereas Kane has 2 goals and 9 assists.]

On the backend for the Hawks, it hasn't been the Duncan Keith-Brent Seabrook tandem that has been shutting down opposing top lines. 19 year old rookie Nick Leddy has been paired up with Keith, and they have made quite a pairing. Keith has been +4 since being paired up with him starting on February 9th. Leddy has been +2.
Don't worry about Seabrook though--he's doing just fine being with Niklas Hjalmarsson back there. In fact, since being with Hjalmarsson, Seabrook has been a +6. He also signed a 5 year, $29 million contract extension on February 27th. 

Goaltender Corey Crawford has been a rock in net. He's currently 3rd in the league with his 2.17 goals against average

Special Teams

The Hawks sit at the top of the league with their power play percentage of 24.7. They're edging out Vancouver by .2%
Their penalty kill leaves a lot to be desired as it is 27th at a 77.9%.

Trade Deadline Moves

•Before the deadline, on February 9th, General Manager Stan Bowman sent Jack Skille, Hugh Jessiman, and prospect David Pacan to Florida in exchange for Michael Frolik and goalie prospect Alexander Salak. 
On the 28th, the deadline itself, Ryan Potulny and a conditional 2nd round pick in the 2011 draft were sent to Ottawa for defenseman Chris Campoli and a conditional 7th round pick in the draft. Not only had Bowman been saying he was wanting to acquire another defenseman for awhile, but it became even more imperative when Jordan Hendry went down with a torn ACL on the 27th. 

Last Game

The Hawks are coming off of a 6-4 win over the Calgary Flames on Wednesday. Toews scored twice in the win and Dave Bolland got the goal that ended up being the game winner with a bullet from the right circle. Michael Frolik also got his first goal in a Hawk uniform.

The Hurricanes


Erik Cole [center] celebrates with Jussi Jokinen [left] and Eric Staal [right] after scoring the go ahead goal on February 18th on Rod Brind'Amour night.

The Canes haven't been as hot as the Hawks in their last 10 games, but they've been holding their own, getting points where they can. They're 5-3-2 and have been playing some pretty decent hockey. 9 of those 10 games have been one goal games, with the exception of a 4-1 loss to the Devils on February 19th.

Eric Staal continues to lead the way for them in goals with 28. Erik Cole has been on the right wing with him for most of the season, and those two have great chemistry. They've had a rotating winger on the left side with them, which have included the likes of Zach Boychuk, Chad LaRose, and Jussi Jokinen. But since reacquiring Cory Stillman, he's been playing up there with the Eric(k)s. It's almost like they haven't missed a beat. Stillman was on their line back in 2006 when they won the Stanley Cup.

Brandon Sutter has turned into a great two way center for the Canes. He leads the team in +/- with a +14 rating and has put up 24 points in 65 games [12 G, 12 A]. Coach Paul Maurice counts on him in pretty much every situation including sending him out to shut down opposing top lines and on the penalty kill. More likely than not, he may draw the assignment of the Sharp-Toews-Kane line.

Rookie Jeff Skinner has been sensational in his 1st NHL season. He's the leading rookie scorer in the league with 48 points [22G, 26A]. He has also drawn a ton of huge penalties for the Canes as he is so good at using his edges to maneuver around defenders, causing them to take a penalty.
He's also not afraid to get his nose dirty. Even though he's only 5'10", he gets to the scoring areas of the ice and is also able to work for pucks along the boards in order to make a play. He's not afraid of anyone either. Teams have tried roughing him up, hitting him hard, and he just keeps on trucking and starts playing with a bit of a snarl in his game.
Watching him is something else, and he will be a star in this league for many years to come.

Cam Ward.
What else can you say?
His goaltending has been outstanding again this year. Especially in the last couple of games, his rebound control has been good and he continues to make the stops when he needs to. 
He's seen the majority of the work-lode this season, appearing in 58 games. He has a record of 28-21-8 and leads the league in saves with 1,720--that's not necessarily a good thing though when you think about team defense...
He has a 2.68 goals against average and a .920 save percentage. 
Maurice hasn't said if Ward is starting Friday, but it wouldn't be a surprise really. If he doesn't though,  Justin Peters will see his first game action since January 17th against the Boston Bruins. Peters has only appeared in 11 games and his record is 3-4-1 with a .879 save percentage and a 3.88 GAA.
Don't let the numbers fool you though. Peters is a good, solid goaltender. He's 6'1" and has played pretty good when he has gotten a chance.
Once again... that whole team defense thing has kind of been at low points when he's seen the ice sometimes.

Special Teams

The power play has had its moments this season, but it hasn't been the greatest. It's 20th in the league at a 16.8%. 
The penalty kill is better than the Hawks', but barely. It's 23rd in the league at 80.7%.

Trade Deadline Moves

•The Canes sent Ian White over to San Jose on the 18th for a 2nd round draft pick in the 2012 draft.
That same day, the Canes got defenseman Derek Joslin from San Jose in a different trade.  
On the 25th, the Canes traded Ryan Carter and a 5th round pick in the 2011 draft to Florida for a familiar face in Cory Stillman. 
•Finally, on the deadline day, defenseman Brett Carson was claimed on waivers by the Calgary Flames and winger Sergei Samsonov was traded to Florida for defenseman Bryan Allen.

Last Game
The Canes played Thursday night at home against the Buffalo Sabres. Jiri Tlusty and LaRose both tied the game up in the second period after the Canes had fallen into a one goal hole each time. The game went to overtime and 26 seconds in, Jamie McBain bombed a shot from the point, and with traffic provided by Captain Staal, the puck got past Ryan Miller for the 3-2 win.

 Last Meeting Between These Two Teams

Last year, the Hawks were down at the RBC Center on January 30th for their lone meeting of the year. The Canes won 4-2 with goals from Samsonov, Jokinen, Sutter, and Matt Cullen. The Hawks' two goals were scored by Marian Hossa and Andrew Ladd.

The Canes' mascot Stormy on game day. The area was pounded by snow and drew a small crowd, even though it was supposed to be a sold out game.

Brandon Sutter scoring the eventual game winner.