Style points don't matter as Chicago Blackhawks stay perfect - New York News

Style points don't matter as Blackhawks stay perfect

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

The Blackhawks were far from perfect in Columbus on Saturday night but that didn't prevent them from staying perfect on the season. Despite recording a 3-2 victory this was their poorest effort of the young season. The Hawks are now 5-0 on the year and goalkeeper Corey Crawford's performance was the main reason for the win.

Last season Columbus was the worst team in the NHL. They finished with 65 points, which were 30 fewer than required for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. For the 2011-2012 campaign, the Hawks won all six meetings with the Blue Jackets and the slimmest margin of victory was three goals. With long time hated rival Detroit on tap, Saturday night's game versus the Jackets was a perfect letdown opportunity. So there were reasons for a spotty performance but in a 48 game schedule, opportunities can't be squandered.

Many believe hockey is a relatively simple game and compared to football and basketball, that is probably true. There isn't the same amount of plays and schemes but hockey is a pure team sport. It is not an easy task for a club to play consistently well over an entire season. A hard working team of lesser talent can give the better group a battle on any given night. The Blue Jackets worked hard, played a physical game and it was almost enough.

In Columbus, the Blackhawk defense to many was a bit off. If not for some strong play in the opening period by Crawford the Jackets would have had more than a one goal lead. The Hawks passing wasn't crisp, and they committed too many turnovers. The lack of focus caused Joel Quenneville to lean on key players and pile on more ice time. Unfortunately the Hawks were and not able to coast and save energy for the Red Wings, but at least they came away with the win.

Columbus dominated the opening 15 minutes of the game. Actually, the Blackhawks seemed to wake up only after a boarding penalty by Jack Johnson on Dave Bolland at 15:07. A couple of minutes later, after Patrick Kane did all the work, Bolland put in a rebound and the Hawks never trailed again.

As is the case in all sports, bad teams find ways to lose and make winning so difficult. Conversely, many times good teams find a way to get lucky.

While trailing 2-1 the Jackets appeared to tie the score only to have the goal waived off. The referee, who was in good position to make the call, felt Crawford was interfered with as he moved to get set for the shot. It was a call that could have gone either way, but it was huge go against for Columbus.

Early in the final frame, right after killing off a penalty, Quenneville loaded up with his top guns and all three had a part in the third goal. Marian Hossa was backchecking and caused the turnover. The puck went to Kane who made an alert pass to Jonathan Toews who was all alone in front of the Columbus goal. Toews made a few deeks in a short amount of space and tucked the puck under goalkeeper Steve Mason. That was enough, as Crawford slammed the door shut.

Sunday, the United Center will be rocking and the Red Wings should have a scheduling advantage. Detroit was off on Saturday and spent the day in Chicago. Maybe the Red Wings took advantage of all Chicago can offer and they won't hit the ice as well rested as they should be.

Some were caught off guard when Quenneville played Crawford in goal and didn't rest him for Sunday's contest. If Ray Emery would have gotten the start and didn't improve over his last outing, the Hawks would not have skated out of Columbus with two points.

Top goaltenders around the league play in back-to-back games. Crawford has to prove he is up to the challenge, plus it was a short flight home. My thinking is Crawford will get the nod versus the Wings. Quenneville will have to ration the ice time differently Sunday as everyone will be needed to stay undefeated.

As has been the case this season Kane led the charge along with Hossa. The best players came through again and although not a pretty game to watch, style points don't matter.

Follow me on Twitter @AlCimaglia

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