CHICAGO, IL - MARCH 23: Tomas Kopecky #82 of the Chicago Blackhawks watches the puck go into the net as Tomas Vokoun #29 of the Florida Panthers lays on the ice out of the crease at the United Center on March 23, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. The Blackhawks defeated the Panthers 4-0. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Tomas Kopecky;Tomas Vokoun
There are games you remember for a long time, and then there are those that slip through like a dinner out on a weekday, where the food was good and the one glass of wine was nice, and you were just with a friend catching up instead of perhaps the love of your life, and it's just another night on this spinning sphere as it can't seem to find it's way out of this path that circles the sun.
Such was last night's game.
If the points weren't so vital, if it had taken place in January or December instead of late March, this game would have defined ho-hum. But it did take place so late in the season and the points are of the utmost importance. There are sections of Hawks fans who were not thrilled with the performance, and another sect that will just take the two steps closer to a playoff berth no matter how turgidly they get here. Strangely, I find myself in the middle. I'm not upset that the Hawks looked off last night for much of the game, at least offensively. And had they played a team with even a smattering or smidgen or dusting or whatever other word some TV chef would describe the tiny amounts of cilantro needed of finishing skill, the Panthers probably make the Hawks defense look a whole lot worse. But they don't.
And I long ago gave up on the idea that the Hawks could back a superlative effort like Sunday in Phoenix truly was with another one, especially when it's not required against a team like Florida. So they got through it, there are much bigger battles ahead shortly, with Anaheim in town on Saturday and trips to Detroit and Boston after that. So two points and energy saved for those contests without losing momentum? Fine.
-Marcus Krüger played like he'd just flew in from Sweden and his world is pretty upside down now. Funny, because he did and it is. We'll judge after a few games, not one.
-Though Corey Crawford got the shutout, he looked awful handling the puck last night (not the only one with that affliction, though). He got caught a couple times behind the net, as he fell prey to the overall sluggishness that was incubating the team. Another team would have punished him.
-That said, it's a good night when he doesn't have a big save to make.
-Viktor Stalberg on the top line had its moments, notably the first shift on which he drew a penalty in the first and the first in the 3rd period where he scored. But there were other shifts where they went unnonticed, but I'm hoping that was just part of the team-wide affliction last night. Encouragingly, Vik's goal came from right in front. Learn.
-The Hossa to Frolik to Kopecky goal was about as pretty as it gets, and deserved for Kop as he was probably the hardest working Hawk all night.
-Chris Campoli had his worst game as a Hawk, treating the puck like toilet paper on his shoe. But hey, they can't all be zingers.
Job done. At this point, with this injury list, at this time of year, that's enough.