Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Blackhawks at Toronto
4-3 OT Loss Recap


by Gatekeeper

Monday night the Blackhawks rolled into Toronto to face a team that was just as equally hot as they were. Both the Hawks and Leafs lead the league after scoring 15 goals each, in their first two games. The Leafs are that young up-and-coming team, much like the Blackhawks in 2009, while the Hawks are that older team just looking to hang on for one last chance at winning the Stanley Cup. Like the Hawks on 09, the Leafs have young superstars in Auston Matthews, William Nylander, and Mitch Marner. They also added a Marian Hossa type veteran in the off-season in Patrick Marleau. Last night was an excellent opportunity, along with the inevitable game against Edmonton, to take a look at the old guard and new. Can the Blackhawks be that Redwings type team that gives the kids one last beating before they take home one last crown? Only time will tell.

The Blackhawks had Anton Forsberg making his NHL regular season debut, with Corey Crawford scheduled to start against his hometown Canadiens, in Montreal, the Tuesday night. Nick Schmaltz didn't make the two game trip to Canada, after sustaining an upper body injury in the first period against the Blue Jackets on Saturday night. Tanner Kero, who missed Saturday's game, made his return to the lineup in this one.

We all just keep waiting for the domination to end, and the Blackhawks just kept rolling, for a period at least. Before the game was ten minutes old, the Blackhawks were up 2-0, which was a total false sense of security. Actually, the Hawks could have very easily been up 4-1 or 4-2 before this period ended, but 2-0 was what we ended up with. Some real solid goaltending from Anton Forsberg kept the Blackhawks up by two. Surprisingly, the Hawks out shot the Leafs 9-7 on their home ice. Then the bottom fell out.

During the second period, the Leafs woke up and played much more like what we all should have expected earlier in the game. In fact, they came out and peppered the Blackhawks with 19 shots on net. That total had the makings of a four goal period, but the Blackhawks goaltender held the Leafs to only one goal and a slim one goal lead. On the other hand, the Blackhawks were only able to muster up 6 measly shots of their own. Some of this Leafs offense was due to eight second period penalties, but the rest was the Blackhawks being overwhelmed by the speed and youth of the Leafs.

The Leaf continued momentum in the third period, despite the Blackhawks getting their third goal of the game. Powerplays once again figured into the action, as the Leafs scored two third period power play goals to tie the game to combat the one by the Blackhawks. 3-3 is exactly where the game ended, as this one went to overtime. The Leafs just outlasted and out ran the older, slower Blackhawks. In fact, the Blackhawks didn't even manage a shot the entire OT.

The Good
  • The game wasn't even five minutes old when Jan Rutta gave the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead. John Hayden dished the puck to Rutta, who activated and carried the puck around the Leafs net. Once he cleared the far post, he tried to hit one of the Hawks forwards in front but the puck went off Mitch Marner's stick and past Fat Freddy Andersen.
  • Just a mere four minutes after the Rutta goal, Jonathan Toews picked up a Richard Panik rebound and chipped it over Andersen for a 2-0 Blackhawks lead. There were several key factors in this goal, but the first was the ferocious forecheck by Panik and Brandon Saad. Andersen had also lost his stick, which helped as well, in more than one way. The puck was headed around the net, and possibly out of harms way, but it hit Andersen's stick and Saad was able to feed the puck to Panik. Panik drove to the net and had a great chance, but was stopped by Andersen. Unfortunately for the Leafs, though, Jonathan Toews was the trailer and finished the play.
  • With just under eight minutes gone in the third, Dick Panik put the Blackhawks up 3-1 off a fortunate end boards carom. Gustav Forsling took a long point shot that was roughly 4 feet wide of the net, and Steve Konroyd says, "That shot went just a little bit wide". A little bit wide, he says. Anyhow, the shot banked off the end boards and found the stick of Richard Panik with a wide open net staring him in the face. You have to get a little chuckle as Panik trolled his former team after scoring:
  • Anton Forsberg deserved a better fate than he got, as made 39 saves and was able to hold the circus together long enough to get to overtime He was just let down by his team, plain and simple.

The Bad
  • The Leafs took advantage of some Blackhawks chaos in their own zone, midway through the second period. Connor Brown found a breaking Nikita Zaitsev, and Zaitsev beat Forsberg 5-hole to begin the scoring for the Leafs.
  • The Blackhawks penalty kill was playing the "bend but don't break" style and it finally broke in the third period.
    Just a matter of time until the Leafs scored, because the Hawks defenders were gassed and running around sloppily.
  • Just a few minutes later, also on the powerplay, the Leafs tied the game up. This time is was James van Reimsdyk, who redirected a shot off his leg, and past Anton Forsberg.
  • Oh, did I mention Alex Debrincat, who had the 4th lowest ice time on the Blackhawks after the 4th line slugs, getting his head nearly taken off? Don't say I didn't mention concern about this very thing. That secondary assist the day later was quite a delight though, wasn't it?
  • Gustav Forsling just looks overwhelmed out on the ice, at least 50% of the time. Something has to give, and playing Cody Franson or Jordan Oesterle is probably the best move at this point. At least for a game or two. The Rutta and Forsling pairing was an adventure, if only because Rutta is babysitting in his 3rd ever NHL game.

The Ugly
  • The Blackhawks had several brutal changes that led to odd man breaks coming back their way. It's early, I know, but worth being pointed out.
  • In Overtime, the Leafs just caught the Blackhawks sucking wind, and broke them down. Super Soph Auston Matthews ate up Anton Forsberg with a perfectly placed shot right by Forsberg's left ear, which is an almost impossible shot to stop.
  • The Hawks shot metrics went from 54% in the first period to just under 11% in the third. I'd say the Leafs wore them out.
  • The Hawks powerplay failed them once again. The Richard Panik powerplay goal was kind of a fluke bounce, but they were 0-5 outside of that goal.

The Lineblender
Left Wing - Center - Right Wing
Brandon Saad - Jonathan Toews - Richard Panik
Patrick Sharp - Artem Anisimov - Patrick Kane
Alex Debrincat - Tanner Kero- Ryan Hartman
Lance Bouma - Tommy Wingels - John Hayden

Duncan Keith - Brent Seabrook
Michal Kempny - Connor Murphy
Gustav Forsling - Jan Rutta


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