by Vince Maranto on 01/25/12 at 10:10 AM ET
As we head into the All Star break, it is a log jam in the Central Division. With 4 teams at 60+ points, and 3 points separating them, it should be a very interesting second half of the season. Shoot Out wins, (ROW) which I was warning about as far back as October and November, may prove to be what separates the Hawks from the others, when all is said and done. The Central is the only division with more than 2 teams at 60 or more points. And if that’s not enough, the Hawks do not return to the United Center until February 19!
In the previous match up, we saw Crawford start the game and Emery come in with 4 minutes left in the 2nd period. A one hopper from center ice got past Cro, to make it by far the softest thing to go past him this year. Although we’ve seen pretty solid goal tending out of both net minders, we have not seen one of our guys STEAL a game. Chicago still remains the only team in the NHL not to shut some one out. Hossa scored twice as the Hawks dropped the first match up 5-2. The problems also continue with letting players stand, not bothered , in front or side of the net. There have been far too many tap in & rebound goals. Quality shots, or for that matter, any shots are becoming a problem, also. The Hawks took only their second shot on goal in the game with less than 5 minutes left in the first period.
Last night, Coach Q came right back with Crawford - 18-11-4 (I would not have, to be honest). He was up against Pekka Rinne again (27-11-4). Rinne is one of those goalies that can steal a game for you, to be sure. With both Sharp and now Toews out, 2 of your top 4 forwards, the call to Rockford came again. Line wise it looked like this at the start, Bolland up to the first line with Kane & Stalberg. Shaw - Kruger - Hossa on the second line. Brunette, Pirri (the latest call up) and Hayes for the third, and Bickell, Smith and Mayers on the fourth. Dave Bolland has quietly done everything that has been asked of him, whether on the checking line or put into more scoring positions.
Oh yeah, Hawks turnovers, I forgot about those. That’s what led to the Preds first 2 goals last night, both in the first period. The second goal led to Crawford breaking his stick over the cross bar. Quite a strange sight for the usually, even tempered kid. Both Nashville & Chicago had 10 shots on goal.
The second period saw no scoring. A Power Play (18.8%, 8th place) and back to back Penalty Kills (Still a lousy 78% and 28th place) were had. Yip and Montador dropped the gloves, but that was about it. The Hawks did a good job of controlling the puck in the offensive zone from time to time, but the all too few shots were turned away by Rinne.
Crawford had a big glove save 5 minutes into the 3rd period. Then, on a “must score” Power Play, Bolland did just that. 2-1 Preds.The energy level on the ice and in the building certainly raised after that, but then trailed off. The Hawks then squandered 2 more Power Play opportunities, and that was your ball game. Wilson added an empty netter to make the final 3-1.
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