A bittersweet win in Detroit and now the Blackhawks look ahead - Fox 2 News Headlines

A bittersweet win in Detroit and now the Blackhawks look ahead to Phoenix

Posted: Updated: April 08, 2012 10:12 AM CDT
CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

The Blackhawks ended the regular season in bittersweet fashion with a 3-2 shootout victory over the Detroit Red Wings. The win wasn't in regulation so the Hawks stayed in sixth place. They will open the playoffs in Phoenix versus the Coyotes, the Pacific Division champs.

Any win against the Red Wings is a good win and Hawk fans can look forward to the playoffs beginning later this week. In essence capturing the two points didn't help Chicago but it did prevent Detroit from moving up to fourth place. The Red Wings are now forced to open the playoffs in Nashville.

On a sour note, the Hawks couldn't hold a 2-0 lead. The Wings tied the game with 46 seconds left in regulation and then were held scoreless in the shootout. Patrick Kane scored another shootout, highlight reel goal enabling the Blackhawks to finish the season with 101 points.

Corey Crawford was the main reason the Hawks held a lead for much of the game. Unfortunately, Crawford let in a soft goal at 8:11 of the third period to allow the Wings to get on the scoreboard. As has often been the case this season, Crawford played well for the most part but was exposed by a weak goal. This time it was a costly misplay by Crawford which marred an otherwise solid performance.

Blackhawk fans certainly are not without trepidation as the playoffs are about to begin. There are questions surrounding the goaltending, the health of Jonathan Toews and a miserable power play to name only a few issues. What shouldn't be doubted is the Blackhawks are a club with a lot of heart and they usually compete hard. The Hawks have enough high end talent to be a problem for any team in the post season.

It is time to give Blackhawk players, coaching staff and front office their due as many teams would have folded by playing so long without arguably their best player. Instead of sliding out of the playoff picture and calling it a season ruined by bad luck, the Hawks rallied without their captain. This group not only accepted the challenge but excelled without Toews. During his 22 game absence, the Hawks posted a sparkling 13-5-4 record.

My preference for the game in Detroit on Saturday had little to do with winning and more to do with staying healthy. The Hawks can win their first round match-up with the Coyotes without Toews, but one more injury to almost any regular could be more than this club can overcome. Now the Hawks will rest and practice in preparation for the most exciting and grueling time of the hockey season.

The hockey gods don't take well to teams which play at less than 100 percent looking to place themselves in a certain playoff slot. The Hawks and Red Wings battled as if their playoff lives were at stake because winning the game mattered most to each club. The Western Conference is as balanced as it has been in recent memory and this post season figures to be tightly contested.

It appears the Hawks came out of the Detroit game healthy and Crawford did have a good outing, which would have been excellent if not for the one soft goal. There was the usual blend of some missed defensive assignments and the power play went 0-4 but now the slate is wiped clean.

The Blackhawks should have some confidence going into the Phoenix series.

Al's Shots

The playoff schedule will be made public at mid-day on Sunday. Most likely the Hawks will play in Phoenix on Wednesday or Thursday night. There is hope Toews could return then, but at this point it is best to not be disappointed if he isn't ready.

As of this past Friday Toews, is still experiencing concussion like symptoms when his heart rate is elevated. Until he is able to push himself to the limit physically and is symptom-free, Toews won't return. Things could change soon or not for a long time, unfortunately that is the way it is when dealing with a concussion.

On Monday, I will have a Western Conference Playoff preview.

Until then, here's wishing those who celebrate Easter or Pass Over a blessed Sunday.

Follow me on Twitter @AlCimaglia

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