Game in a Sentence:
The Chicago Blackhawks stayed within striking distance in this one and found their legs at the right time as Jonathan Toews put a great shot past Mike Smith to keep them alive in this postseason, oh, they went to overtime again too.
- Phoenix definitely showed the better legs to start the game. I thought they had more quality possessions with the puck and seemed to look the more dangerous of the two.
- Yes, I’m aware that the Blackhawks completely outshot the Coyotes in the first and by a 12-4 margin no less. However, I didn’t think the Blackhawks were generating quality chances, just putting pucks on goal and hoping for the best. That’s how you get Smith into a groove, not how you beat him.
- Who knew Gilbert Brule was still in the NHL? I technically did but I certainly didn’t pick him up in any playoff pools as a potential goal scorer. I don’t know how much I advocate the partial break slap shot but it worked in this instance. Good for him.
- On the topic of Coyotes you may have forgotten about as hockey players, I think Taylor Pyatt has been pretty good for Phoenix this series. Obviously he had a bit of a rough night – he was on the ice for both Chicago goals – but I think he has been a diamond in the rough for Phoenix.
- This was probably the worst night of Viktor Stalberg’s career. He looked totally listless by the end of the game and it’s definitely another case of just trying to do too much while you’re on the ice. He had as many shots on goal as minor penalties at four. He’s one of these players who could break out before the series ends but he may be running out of time on this season.
- David Bolland is still Mr. Playoffs. He won the second most faceoffs on the team behind Toews, and provided the screen on the Nick Leddy goal as he beat Adrian Aucoin to the front of the Phoenix net. He’s a really underappreciated motor behind this Chicago team.
- I’ve personally never seen this before but Mike Smith lost his glove in the midst of some chaos in front of his net and actually tried making plays with his hand.
Definitely a first for me.
- There was a point in the middle of the game where it looked like the Blackhawks totally lost their energy and I thought they were cooked for sure. They really surged in the third period though and that saved their season. Good late regroup from a veteran team.
- Again, Keith and Seabrook are the foundation of the Blackhawks even if other players get the headlines. They both played roughly half an hour in this game. I worry about the long term prospects of them wearing out over the course of multiple series, especially if they keep playing overtimes.
- The Coyotes were great blocking shots once again and really clogged up a lot of the lanes the Blackhawks thought they could expose. They out-shot blocked (is that an expression?) Chicago by a 29-9 margin. I’m baffled by how well they play Tippett’s system.
- Speaking of Tippett, he strikes me as the type of coach you would be really afraid to let down. There’s just a type of quiet intensity to him that makes it really easy to grasp why he gets so much out of his players.
- Speaking of let downs, Shane Doan needs to do some breakaway drills in practice. I don’t know what happened there to him in the third. Just looks like he froze and over-thought the situation… twice.
- Tonight was probably the first game of the series where I felt that Mike Smith was the only guy on top of his game for the Blackhawks. As much as I felt the Coyotes were the better squad through the first half (at least) of the game, nobody on the ice really seemed to be particularly sharp. Smith did his best but nobody snapped out of it for Phoenix and he had to take the loss.
- Crawford bounced back well for the Blackhawks after two shaky overtime losses in a row. I was concerned what his mindset was like in overtime once they got there, luckily Phoenix only got one shot on him. That one shot wasn’t exactly a breeze as it looked to me like he really fought it instead of just stopping it. That win was a big one for his mental approach at the very least.
- Again, I can’t help but think this goes seven games. They’ve played each other so tight all series long and something has to give to get these Chicago stars out of their slumps. Maybe it was a Toews overtime goal that did just that.
My Three Stars:
1) Jonathan Toews
2) Mike Smith
3) Duncan Keith