Friday, April 13, 2012

Blackhawks Put Themselves in Early Hole

Seabs scored the game-tying goal with
just seconds left in regulation
Brent Seabrook had a great game last night.  I was about to tweet something about that, just before he scored the game tying goal with just 14 seconds left in regulation.

The Blackhawks' defenseman was the proverbial "stat sheet stuffer" last night, registering the goal, a +1 rating, seven shots on goal, two blocked shots, and six hits in 31 minutes of ice time which led the team.

But Seabrook's best efforts weren't enough to keep the Hawks out of the loss column, as the Coyotes took a 1-0 series lead on Matin Hanzal's tip goal in overtime.  Despite the loss, the Hawks showed some encouraging signs.

1. Increased pressure on the power play
I'm sure some of this had to do with the return of Jonathan Toews, but the Hawks had plenty of chances on the power play, especially with the top unit.  Even though there was no goal to show for it, the results last night were better than they've been recently.

2. Corey Crawford
Crawford was pretty good in defeat.  He made some spectacular saves, especially when the Hawks were shorthanded.  He's going to have to be every bit as good as Mike Smith, and I think he's up to the challenge.

One thing I think will come into play is the officiating.  Joel Quenneville wanted a too many men on the ice penalty on Phoenix's first goal, and I'm not sure he's wrong.  But then again, they always seem so lax when it comes to that rule.  In my opinion, there needs to be a cut and dry definition of what the rule is, and it needs to be interpreted and enforced as such.  Also, it seems like they will let the boys play, which is good and bad.  It's the norm for playoff hockey, but it's a big difference from the regular season.  I think the NHL has the biggest disparity between regular season and postseason officiating, and the teams must adjust.

I think that favors the Coyotes, because they will be allowed to push around the Hawks.  We know the Hawks struggle against physical teams, so it's just another hurdle to overcome.

I'm still cautiously optimistic about the Hawks' chances in this series, but Phoenix took a huge step forward in winning Game 1.

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