Saturday, December 17, 2011

Blackhawks: Not the season to be greedy

Posted By on 12.17.11 at 01:00 PM

John Scott
  • John Scott
Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville moved big, 6-foot-10, but generally little-used defenseman John Scott up front to play left wing on the fourth line—the so-called "energy line"—Friday night, and Scott responded right away on the first shift by digging a puck out of the corner that led to a goal by Jamal Mayers. Scott, a fearsome fighter, later pummeled the Anaheim Ducks' Sheldon Brookbank (in the way a Sheldon should be pummeled) and headed to the penalty box to the strains of Jimmy Dean's "Big Bad john." He almost got a breakaway on a two-line pass later on, but it was just out of his extended reach. Even so, Scott was justifiably elated when the media first crowded around him in the locker room after a 4-1 Hawks win. "I can't get greedy," he said. "One assist is good enough for me." And the TKO went without saying—this was a night to celebrate his hockey skills.

For the Hawks as well. Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp were electric, with a Hossa forecheck leaving him behind the Anaheim defense when Sharp completed the steal, clearing Hossa to sweep in a vicious backhand for the Hawks' second goal. Sharp finished the scoring by skating between four Ducks to get off a terrific wrist shot, after Dave Bolland had also scored on a wrister from the deep slot on a power play, trailing defenseman Nick Leddy, who had drawn the defense by skating the puck deep into the corner.

Which brings to mind how the Hawks tightened up their defense, too. Leddy and Duncan Keith are known for jumping into the offensive play, but that's left the Hawks open to defensive lapses. Friday, the Hawks' forwards were clearly alert to covering for them in those instances. Time and again, a forward fell back with one of the Hawks' more conservative defensemen (Brent Seabrook and Niklas Hjalmarsson) to stymie an Anaheim counterattack.

It was a complete performance, sullied only when captain Jonathan Toews turned the puck over at the blue line in the closing minutes, allowing the Ducks to score on goalie Ray Emery. Yet Emery too was determined not to be greedy afterward. Asked about the spoiled shutout, he said, "I just take the win. That's good."
Fans felt equally satisfied. As one said to another on the CTA bus back downtown afterward: "Wasn't that game just ducky?"

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