When the second-round series became official, about the last probable outcome most people would have come up with was a Blackhawks sweep of the hottest team in the NHL since January.
Yet, Chicago did just that. And now the Hawks are one step closer (8 wins, in fact) from their 3rd Stanley Cup in 6 seasons.
Thursday night in St. Paul, the Blackhawks completed the 4-game sweep of the Minnesota Wild by a 4-3 score in captivating fashion before what was a left of the sold out Xcel Energy Center crowd by the time the final horn sounded.
In doing so, the Blackhawks become the first team from either conference to advance into the Conference Finals. They now await the winner of the Anaheim-Calgary series, which resumes on Friday night in Calgary with the Ducks up 2-1 in that duel.
It could be up to 7 to 10 days before the Blackhawks play again, depending on how long the other series go as neither Conference Final series can begin until the series currently going have concluded.
Brent Seabrook, Andrew Shaw, Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa scored for the visitors in the series-clinching victory. Read more »
The Chicago Blackhawks were unable to hand Minnesota its first home loss of the postseason Friday night. The Wild evened up the Western Conference second-round series with the Blackhawks, stifling Chicago shooters and taking Game 4 by a score of 4-2.
First Period-Both teams set a fast pace to start the contest, though most of the early action was in the Wild zone. Duncan Keith caught Minnesota napping on a line change an carried the puck toward Ilya Bryzgalov in the fifth minute until Mikko Koivu hustled over to prevent a point-blank shot on goal.
The Wild drew first blood in the eighth minute after Matt Cooke swiped the puck from Michal Rozsival. Justin Fontaine waited out Corey Crawford from the right circle and beat the Hawks goalie high to give Minnesota a 1-0 advantage 7:24 into the opening period. Read more »
Sometimes two games are just that, two games, and not some dramatic up or downward trend.
The Hawks and Wild were pretty evenly matched throughout most of the 1st on Monday night in St. Paul, but as the game got closer to final horn it got further in hand for the Hawks. To say this game was a total blowout would be doing a disservice for Corey Crawford, who was phenomenal AGAIN.
Crawford stopped 30 of 31 shots for a lofty .967 save percentage. The Hawks were actually outshot in this game, but when the scoring opportunities occurred, the superior talented Hawks closed on them. Crawford was simply better than his Wild counterpart, Niklas Backstrom. Read more »
It wasn’t a good night Saturday for the Chicago Blackhawks, who fell behind early to a visiting Minnesota Wild team and came out on the short end of a 5-3 score. The Blackhawks drop their second regulation contest and failed to earn a point for the first time at the United Center this season.
Jason Pominville paced the Wild effort with a pair of goals, while Niklas Backstom stopped 33 shots, consistently turning Chicago away through the evening.
First Period-Jonathan Toews went strong to the net in the opening minute with Marian Hossa sending a rebound attempt toward Backstrom. The Wild goalie stopped both shots. The fourth line got a shot on goal when Brandon Bollig found the puck in front of the net, though Backstrom saw it all the way and made the save. Read more »
The Chicago Blackhawks turned a tight game into a bit of a laugher Wednesday night at the United Center, pulling away behind a big night by Jonathan Toews and Chicago’s surprising rookies. Both Jimmy Hayes and Andrew Shaw both contributed two points as the Blackhawks cruised to a 6-2 win.
Chicago controlled the early going, but it was the Sabres getting on the board first when Brent Seabrook got caught a bit too far up the ice. Marian Hossa, who had just been denied a scoring chance in front of the net by Jhonas Enroth, dumped the puck into the corner. Jochen Hecht gathered the puck and fired a long pass that found the stick of Jason Pominville. The Sabres captain took advantage by beating Corey Crawford top shelf to give Buffalo a 1-0 lead with 9:30 in to the opening period.
Derek Roy was called for hooking moments later and the Blackhawks went on the power play. Hecht took advantage of a puck glancing off the referee and bore down on Crawford for what would have been a shorthanded tally. The attempt struck the post, skidded across the crease, and was kept out of the net by a quick-acting Patrick Kane. Read more »
Among the topics discussed on tonight’s show
– 2010 Conference Quarter-Finals – A Nashville Perspective
– Sergei Kostitsyn a Predator
– The greatness of Shea Weber
– Matt Lombardi a #1 center?
– “The Predator Way”
– Ex-Hawks J.P. Dumont and Steve Sullivan
– Fans discontent with Jason Arnott last season
– Barry Trotz’ iron-clad job security
– Acquisition of Shane O’Brien
– How, or if, Nashville franchise would benefit from having a true superstar on the ice
– Would the Preds & their fans accept Alexander Radulov back?
– The rocky career of David Legwand
All this and a bunch more with Buddy.
– Then, we discuss the Niklas Hjalmarsson blind side hit on Jason Pominville from Monday night’s game in Buffalo
– Was the 2-game suspension handed down by the NHL just?
– More on these kinds of hits and Ryan Miller’s reaction
– Impressions of the Hawks first three regular season games
– Including Nick Leddy, Viktor Stalberg, Jack Skille and Marty Turco
Our show returns next Tuesday night, October 19th @ 8pm.
TheThirdManIn~Radio returns tonight as we take a look back at the Chicago Blackhawks first three games of the 2010-11 season.
Also, Buddy Oakes of PredsOnTheGlass.com, Inside Hockey and the Columbia Daily Herald will join us to talk Nashville Predators’ hockey and preview tomorrow night’s Blackhawks-Preds matchup at the United Center.
You can listen to tonight’s show live at 8pm central over at BlogTalk, or on ITunes, this site or in the archives later tonight.
We’ll also discuss Niklas Hjalmarsson’s violent, illegal check on Buffalo Sabres’ winger Jason Pominville from last night’s first period in Buffalo.
I’m sure most have either heard or seen the play, but if not ….
It’s extremely frustrating to read and hear people attempting to defend Hjalmarsson for this hit, or absolve Hjalmarsson because “Pominville saw him coming.” And I’m having a hard time understanding how individuals, and some who I usually respect, can come away from that hit saying it was anything other than a hit from behind. If you’re one of those people, you’re really embarrassing yourself.
I think Tim Sassone is pretty close to being on top of this. And at least Hockeenight is one place that knows a hit from behind when it plays out blatantly before their eyes.
Sassone is right in regards to this hit on Pominville not being comparable, fairly, to the hit James Wisniewski (more on this goof later today) laid on Brent Seabrook last season. There was clear intent to do damage to Seabrook where Wisniewski’s hit was concerned. I don’t think anyone’s saying Hjalmarsson had similar intentions in mind at all. He was simply careless. And careless when it comes to another player’s well being should be taken very seriously.
Last night’s hit was reckless. Considering Pominville’s positioning along the wall with his hands down, not in a position to be hit, vulnerable, with Hjalmarsson attacking from a blind spot, it is clearly too dangerous of a hit for the league to overlook.
Whether Pominville saw Hjalmarsson coming or not is irrelevant. He’s not expecting to be hit before the puck gets to him, because that would be an illegal hit. As this hit was illegal.
At the point before the collision that Pominville looks over his shoulder, he already sees the puck coming towards him. With Hjalmarsson oncoming, he’s in no-man’s land. He could surrender the puck because he suspects he’s about to be hit illegally and dangerously, or he can trust Hjalmarsson won’t act recklessly.
Ultimately the responsibility lies completely in Hjalmarsson’s hands. I’ve been in his position before and I’ve done the same thing. The idea is to time the contact at the exact moment the puck arrives because that’s when the puck carrier is at his most vulnerable (within the rules). We see this attempted all the time. Hjalmarsson’s looking for a big collision. One that knocks Pominville off the puck and temporarily out of the play. Because that’s the sexier play, and the easier one if you time it right and have the balance and strength to pull it off.
To suggest Hjalmarsson was looking to injure Pominville is absurd. Hjalmarsson’s pulled this very maneuver off, probably 100 times as a Blackhawk, but he screwed up this time. He was looking to put a big-time hit on Pominville. In playing a guessing-game with the timing of the collision, Hjalmarsson was playing a game of risk with Pominville’s well-being.
And that’s what is most-concerning and ultimately suspendable. In the position Pominville is in, there along the wall; he’s at Hjalmarsson’s mercy. Niklas could have simply attempted to stick-check Pominville at the moment the puck arrived, or waited until the puck got to Pominville before committing to the hit. It’s not as if running Pominville into the boards and glass was his only option there. Instead, he saw Pominville on the train tracks and chose to run him down.
Joel Quenneville’s defense of Hjalmarsson post-game is predictable, still dumbfounding. You can say “well, if Hjalmarsson gets there a half second later….” – But he didn’t. And that’s Hjalmarsson’s responsibility. Not Pominville’s. If the shoe was on the other foot, you can guarantee Quenneville wouldn’t be suggesting that hit didn’t even warrant a minor penalty.
Further, Quenneville suggesting Hjalmarsson was playing the puck and didn’t see the stationary Pominville, is more ridiculous than someone insinuating Pominville share some culpability in the collision because he looked over his shoulder shortly before and noticed the Blackhawk defenseman’s presence. Pominville is at least in Hjalmarsson’s field of vision, not bringing the impact from a blind area. Plus, when you watch the replay, Hjalmarsson turns his shoulder into the 9 on the back of Pominville’s sweater before the moment of impact while Pominville is still waiting for the puck.
There’s an entire larger issue here as it pertains to the lack of respect players seem to have for one another at times. As in the case of Wisniewski and Ovechkin’s hit on Brian Campbell.
But when it comes to head injuries, the league needs to do more than give lip service.
I wouldn’t argue there was intention on Hjalmarsson’s part to strike the head. However, when you hit a player along the wall, who has his hands down and at that moment, isn’t expecting to be hit, and can’t see the hit coming, what do you think is going to happen? The force of the hit will drive the vulnerable player into the boards and glass, with the head being at a high risk to strike one of those violently.
It’ll be interesting to see how the league handles this. Because Hjalmarsson doesn’t have a record of this, you shouldn’t expect the league to be hard on him. However, considering Pominville did sustain a concussion and will likely miss at least a few games, the league office will undoubtedly be hitting Hjalmarsson will some kind of discipline.
Two games would be fair and hopefully send a message that hits like these won’t be tolerated.
The good news is Pominville was well enough that the medical attendants did not transport him to hospital and treated him at the arena.
Any head injury, be it “slight” or “severe” is serious. Head trauma is nothing to glance over, or treat as an understood hazard of the game. There must be some accountability in situations such as these. The next player who sees an opportunity like the one Hjalmarsson saw last night, must understand there will be ramifications if he doesn’t time that hit right.