Blackhawks top Wings; Set franchise record

160210212_slideIt looked like tonight’s game between the Hawks and Wings was going to be a runaway victory for the home team after Duncan Keith’s powerplay goal just 2:24 into the game. As it turned out, this game was just the opposite.

The Blackhawks got off to a quick start in this one when Keith hammered in a missile of a slap shot past Jimmy Howard to give the Hawks a 1-0 lead and yet another powerplay goal. From that point on in the first period, the Blackhawks controlled the game and spent much of the period in the Red Wings’ own zone. You would have never known that the Hawks played a bruising game in Columbus just 24 hours earlier.

Once the second period began, the momentum almost immediately shifted in Detroit’s favor. The Hawks committed 4 penalties in the second period resulting in 4 Red Wings powerplays, including a 43 second 2-man advantage. While taking 4 penalties in a period is never a recipe for success, the Blackhawks killed off all 4 penalties with relative ease as their penalty kill continues to stay red hot. The Hawks ended up killing off all 6 penalties that they took in the game.

The third period evened out a little bit more compared to the second, but the Wings still controlled most of the play. Once the third began, you could definitely tell that the Blackhawks were fatigued from their game in Columbus on Saturday night. Johan Franzen scored 4:30 into the period to tie the game at one. The Blackhawks clearly had no legs under them and just couldn’t seem to skate the puck into Detroit’s zone, which resulted in a lot of play down by Crawford. Once they ended up getting it into Detroit’s zone, the Hawks couldn’t generate much offense. About 11:30 into the third, Jonathan Ericsson took a holding penalty on Jonathan Toews that gave the Hawks their second powerplay of the game. Even with the man advantage, the Blackhawks still struggled to get any kind of offense going and came up empty. Around a minute after that powerplay ended, Henrik Zetterberg was called for holding Jonathan Toews, again. This time around, the Hawks got a little bit more offense going and a couple shots on Howard, but again didn’t score. The game headed to overtime tied at 1.

In overtime, a nice rush into the Detroit end led by Viktor Stalberg resulted in Nick Leddy getting a snap shot by Jimmy Howard for the game winner. It was Leddy’s first goal of the year, and it gave the Blackhawks their 6th straight victory to being the season. This is the first time in franchise history that the Blackhawks have started a season 6-0.

While the Hawks clearly did not have the energy or strength in them that they had through their first 5 games, they still managed to find a way to win. This was the type of game that they would have almost certainly lost in either of the past 2 seasons. For whatever reason, they just seem to have found another gear this year and are playing with incredible confidence, speed, and skill.

They will need all of the speed and skill they can get in the next 2 weeks as they head out west on a 6-game road trip that takes them to Minnesota, Vancouver, Calgary, San Jose, and Phoenix. While the Hawks are currently 4-0 on the road, these next 6 games will be a huge test for them and a great evaluation of where they are at compared to some of the best teams in the Western Conference.


NHL Suspensions

In the dying seconds of Game 1 of the first round between the Nashville Predators and Detroit Red Wings tonight, Nashville captain Shea Weber did one of the most idiotic things he could have possibly done. There’s a good chance that he might even get suspended for it too.

With about 2 seconds left in regulation, and the Predators up 3-2 over the Wings, Shea Weber first punched Henrik Zetterberg of the Red Wings in the back of the head, and then proceeded to grab Zetterberg’s head and slam it into the glass. A penalty was called on the play, but time had already expired. Zetterberg fell to the ice holding his head and stayed down there for a good 15-20 seconds before he finally stood back up. The second I saw this happen, I immediately thought that this play called for a suspension. As it turns out, I’m not the only one.

Following the game, I went onto Twitter and read a bunch of comments made by NHL writers and analysis’. Most of them were agreeing with my opinion in that Shea Weber deserves a suspension. However, one comment by an NHL writer caught my attention. It read something along the lines of, “I don’t think he should be suspended multiple games unless Zetterberg is hurt.” I briefly touched on this topic a while back when writing about Duncan Keith’s suspension, but I am going to talk about it again.

I highly dislike the fact that the lengths of suspensions in the NHL are partially determined by whether or not the victim on the play got hurt. Punish the player who made the hit for the HIT ITSELF, not for the outcome of the hit. An illegal hit is an illegal hit. It’s that simple! The fact that the NHL looks into whether or not the victim of the hit got hurt seems ridiculous to me. A hit that should warrant a one-game suspension might be bumped up to a 2 or 3-game suspension just because the victim on the play got hurt. Look at the hit itself and determine a suspension length based on the hit, nothing else. The victim of an illegal hit could theoretically sit out a game or 2 just to make the hit look worse, in which case the guy who delivered the hit might be suspended for more time than he deserves. The fact that this scenario is even possible seems insane, and it brings me back to my main point: punish a player for the illegal hit that he makes, and not because the victim of the hit got hurt.

After seeing the replay of Weber’s head-smashing a few times now, it clearly demonstrates just what the NHL is trying to take out of the game, which is illegal hits to the head. I believe Weber should get a 2-game suspension for what he did. If he does end up getting suspended, especially for more than one game, then Nashville is going to be in a lot of trouble without him while trying to fend off the Red Wings.

Thanks for reading.