The Blackhawks’ win on Tuesday night over their rival Vancouver Canucks marked their 16th straight game to start the season with at least one point. That ties the all time NHL record set by the Anaheim Ducks in the ’06-’07 season. While most people would assume that the Blackhawks would be celebrating this accomplishment, the general attitude of the Hawks and their fans following last night’s game was pretty subdued. This was due to the fact that not only did the Hawks blow a 2-goal lead in the last 4 minutes of regulation, but Marian Hossa had to be helped off the ice after a blow to the back of his head.
The game started off with a very fast pace. Within the first 10 minutes of play, a total of 5 breakaways had already taken place; 3 for the Hawks and 2 for the Canucks. Incredibly, no goals were scored. Then with just over 13 minutes gone in the first, Daniel Sedin lit the lamp with a soft backhander that somehow found its way through Ray Emery’s legs, giving Vancouver a 1-0 lead. The score would stay that way heading into the second period.
Again, the second period started off with a fast pace just like the first, but with no breakaways for either side. After generating a few good scoring chances, the Hawks finally beat Corey Schneider to tie the game. Patrick Sharp scored his 4th goal of the season after a nice feed by Kane left Sharp open to Schneider’s right for a wide open slap shot. The puck found its way right through the five-hole and into the back of the net.
About 7 minutes later and on the powerplay, Marian Hossa scored on another slapshot from the opposite side of the zone to give the Hawks a 2-1 lead.
Then, only about 4 minutes after Hossa scored, he scored again for his second of the game. In typical Marian Hossa fashion, he won the puck battle along the boards in the corner to Schneider’s right, fought his way to the front of the net, and somehow was able to sneak the puck into the net between Schenider and the post. He literally had maybe only 3-4 inches between Schneider and the post, but he was able to get the goal. This increased the Hawks’ lead to 3-1. It would stay that score until late in the third.
With a little under 3 minutes remaining in regulation and the Canucks on the powerplay, Alex Edler beat Ray Emery with a slap shot from just inside the blue line to bring Vancouver within 1 goal. Then, a little over a minute and a half later and with Canucks’ net empty, Kevin Bieksa’s slap shot beat Emery again to tie the game and send it to overtime.
No one was able to score in OT, even though the Hawks outshot the Canucks 5-1.
In the shootout, Patrick Kane and Andrew Shaw (yes, Andrew Shaw) both scored for the Hawks, and only Chris Higgins scored for the Canucks giving the Blackhawks the W.
However, aside from the Blackhawks record-tying start to the season, the biggest story from last night’s victory was Jannik Hansen’s hit on Marian Hossa. With only 1:10 gone in the third period, the puck was deflected high into the air around center ice, and both Marian Hossa and Jannik Hansen went to try and “grab” it.
Hossa, with his head looking up at the puck and his hand ready to catch it, was elbowed in the back of the head by Hansen and fell face first to the ice. He would remain on his stomach for a good 2-3 minutes before getting helped to the dressing room. He would not return. After seeing the replay, it is clear that Hansen was not going for the puck and that he intentionally hit Hossa in the back of the head (he has a hearing with the NHL at 2:30 CT today). Whether or not he actually tried to injure him, we’ll never know. But it is clear that Hansen was not going for the puck. I happened to be at the game last night, and when the replay of this was shown on the scoreboard, there was not a fan in that stadium who didn’t want to personally “greet” Hansen after the game.
Following the game, Joel Quenneville stated that Hossa seemed “okay,” and that they’ll know more today on his condition. Coach Q also declined to comment in any detail about Hansen’s elbow to Hossa’s head.
As for the Vancouver side, their head coach, Alain Vigneault, tried to argue that the play did not deserve a penalty (Hansen was assessed a 2-minute minor for roughing) and that only when Toews went out to talk to the refs did they call the penalty. When asked if he thought Hansen would receive any discipline from the NHL, Vigneault answered “No chance.” Hansen told reporters after the game that “it was a hockey play,” and that he didn’t even realize he hit Hossa until the refs told him. He also said that he was “just going for the puck.” Yeah right…
Over the past 4 years, I along with every Hawks fan, has grown to hate the Canucks for their non-stop, cheap-hitting, dirty play. Whether it is Burrows pulling Keith’s hair, Daniel Sedin elbowing Duncan Keith in the head, Torres launching himself at Seabrook’s head, or now Hansen elbowing Hossa in the head, it is always something else with those low-lifes. Their head coach might be the biggest reason for it, too.
Alain Vigneault doesn’t seem to think that anything his players do warrants a penalty or any discipline. Whether it was Torres’ hit on Seabrook, Sedin’s elbow to Keith, or Hansen’s elbow to Hossa, every time he says that his players did nothing wrong. There is a theory in the sports world that states “a team plays the way they are coached.” That might not be anymore evident than in the case of the Canucks.
It is extremely hard for me to not let my emotions fly on here when talking about the Canucks. I absolutely despise everything about that team and their coach, and I feel that I am being polite when saying that. Even their fans are some of the worst in sports.
Remember when the Bruins won the Cup 2 years ago, in Game 7, in Vanvouver, and the Canucks’ fans lit the city on fire? Remember when Zdeno Chara was handed the Stanley Cup by Gary Bettman and Canucks’ fans proceeded to throw cups of beer in Chara’s direction? After Hansen’s hit on Hossa last night, the Vancouver fans used Twitter to express their pleasure with the hit, calling Hossa a “wimp,” an “actor,” and saying that they were “glad” Hossa got hurt on the play. It’s a good thing those people live 2,000 miles away from Chicago and in a different country, because I don’t think I could handle it if they lived any closer, and I would be embarrassed to call myself an American along with them.
I could go on for hours about the Canucks and their fans, but I won’t.
All in all, the Blackhawks again blew a late lead and ended up in overtime. They have got to step up their late-game play and win these games in regulation. At the same time, I won’t complain about their historic start.
Let’s all cross our fingers and hope that Hossa is okay. Here’s the replay of Hansen’s hit: