Chicago Blackhawks find a way to win in San Jose - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Blackhawks find a way to win in San Jose

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

In a fast paced, entertaining contest that was fun to watch and not so pleasant for either goaltender, the Blackhawks defeated San Jose 5-3. The beauty of sports is the unexpected has to always be considered. Both Corey Crawford and the Sharks Antti Niemi were among the best goalies in the league and in the same game each struggled.

Both goalies were victimized by shots they would normally save on their best nights. Crawford was not good early as all three of San Jose's first period scores should have been stopped but as the game progressed he steadied. The Chicago offense roared back from an early two goal deficit and the Sharks couldn't dent the twine in the final 40 minutes. As has been the case all season, Crawford gave his teammates a chance to win.

Some who have watched the Blackhawks this season aren't convinced they are as a good as their record. There are areas to improve upon, which says to me they can play better. What does matter most is what was what reflected in Joel Quenneville's post game comments about his clubs hot start. Coach Q. remarked the Hawks are finding ways to win and no one can dispute his point.

The Hawks are the only club not to lose in regulation because they have won different types of games. They have risen to the occasion when four goals were scored in 1:29 like Tuesday night, as the Blackhawks tallied three during that stretch. They have found a way to win when completely outplayed as in Calgary on last Saturday. The Blackhawks have won some close checking low scoring matches as well as more wide open affairs. This team doesn't have to be better than the 2010 Stanley Cup winners, they only need to rise above others this season.

Quenneville gets high marks with sticking with Crawford and not replacing him with Ray Emery early in the opening frame. I would have pulled Crawford after the second goal and at least finished the first period with Emery. Instead Quenneville took a timeout and settled his group down. Then Niemi helped play a role in the Chicago comeback as he looked anything but comfortable in net. Seldom do both clubs use their timeout in the opening 20-minutes but that is exactly what happened on Tuesday night. The goaltending was off and so was the focus for both teams.

The Blackhawks get outhit almost every game and against bigger squads like the Sharks that can be an issue. What helped turn the tide during the first period is the Hawks were taking the body and finishing their checks. It slowed San Jose down, especially so as they were coming off a hard fought game on Monday night. Bryan Bickell led the charge with three hits and helped the Hawks take control of the pace.

Most significant was 12 different Blackhawks were credited with at least one hit. The way to deter an opponent is not by fighting but by dishing out physicality. San Jose sill outhit the Hawks but it was not by a very wide margin (23-18).

My thinking was if healthy Brandon Bollig should be in the lineup, not to fight, but because he is a big body that can check. It didn't matter Tuesday night as the Hawks put forth a team effort in hits, as they proved to be a step quicker than the Sharks as the game wore on.

In my opinion a player is classified as elite when he can excel in all facets of the game. For example Marian Hossa is an elite forward and Tuesday night Jonathan Toews showed why he is in the same category. Only because of his ability to anticipate plus react quickly was Toews able to lift a stick, steal the puck near the San Jose net and set up a wide open Kane for the winning goal. Toews can excel in so many ways and his superior effort put the Blackhawks over the top.

After finding a way in San Jose, the Blackhawks travel to Phoenix for a Thursday night battle. The schedule is relentless and with a win versus the Coyotes the Hawks will be guaranteed at least an eight point road trip.

Al's Shots

In the second period, San Jose center Andrew Desjardins was given a match penalty for what was thought to be a flagrant hit to the head of Jamal Mayers. His actions resulted in Duncan Keith jumping Desjardins as he was trying to stick up for his teammate.

Tuesday on the NHL Network, Brendan Shanahan was explaining what criteria help classify a hit as illegal and being worthy of a suspension. He mentioned two factors were involved, the player must launch himself and target the head.

I'm not sure Desjardins intended to target the head of Mayers. What I do feel strongly is it was an advantageous hit. Mayers was looking down to receive a pass and Desjardins saw an opportunity to deliver a big check.

Many will say it was a clean play. Maybe, but I think it was high and wasn't necessary. Desjardins did appear to leave his feet and the question for Shanahan will be if he can determine if the head was the target. If so, Desjardins could get a suspension.

I'm not convinced the hit deserves additional punishment but it wasn't necessary. This type of play, where a player looks back for a pass at mid-ice happens frequently. The idea of a body check is to separate the opponent from the puck. It is not to separate an opponent's head from his shoulders.

Desjardins saw an opportunity to not only disrupt the play, Mayers never had control of the puck, but to layout a big hit. Shanahan will decide soon if additional punishment is needed. What is necessary is for more respect from player to player.

There was a time when Keith's pass to Mayers would have been called a "lunch pass." When a player would receive that type of pass he would often catch his lunch.

Congrats to Brandon Saad on his first NHL goal. He has been working hard and it was well deserved.

It was a very nice bounce back game for Marcus Kruger last night. Unfortunately Kruger still can't seem to win a faceoff as he was 0-6 versus the Sharks.

Mayers is getting the benefit of more playing time because of Kruger's poor efforts in the faceoff circle. Mayers isn't fantastic at winning faceoffs, but he is Stan Mikita-like compared to every other center except Toews.

Viktor Stalberg, Nick Leddy and Kane were all credited with four shots on goal.

The captain had a team high five shots versus the Sharks.

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