Chicago is in the driver's seat.
The series continues to display the many entertaining facets of hockey, and as the days come and go, it appears an NHL stalwart is on the verge of something special.
There are a few tidbits to take away from tonight's Game Two action:
- Niklas Hjarlmarsson is the unsung hero of the Blackhawks. His presence is rarely felt, but when you see No. 4, it is usually because of a great play in the offensive zone or untimely block on the penalty kill. His growth in the last year and change has been something to marvel. I dare to say in another year or two, he'll be competing with Duncan Keith for Norris Trophy recognition.
- Chicago's David Bolland has officially convinced San Jose forward Joe Thornton he plays for the Vancouver Canucks. This is clearly evidenced by Thornton's poor slashing penalty in the third period, and the scrum with 17.9 seconds left in the game.
- San Jose's scoring depth is about as deep as the embroidery on their jersey. As long as Chicago contains two out of the big three each game, this series will be over before you know it. Marleau looked in the zone and was in the right place at the right time. Credit to Thornton for playing tough whistle to whistle, but he is just missing something, maybe back up on the ice. That minus-four rating cannot feel too good.
- Patrick Kane's mullet is captivating.
- So much for thinking the refs would not even out the calls. A 4:1 differential in favor of the Hawks surely makes the calls look a lot more even at 6:4 San Jose. Anyone who thought it would not happen should eat their crow and stick to watching, not commenting.
- I stated that Sharks goalie Evgeni Nabokov gave up some softies last game, see any improvement? At the same time, Hawks goaltender Antti Niemi performed admirably with another 25 saves, a few of which kept San Jose off the board in the first period.
It will be interesting to see what happens when Chicago returns home. Will their lackluster 3-3 home record improve or get worse? Will it stay at .500?
With momentum clearly on their side, the Blackhawks have to capitalize at home and close things out while the Sharks can't put anything together.
Thank goodness it's almost Friday.