Tuesday, March 28, 2017


Black Hawks Limp out of Florida

Richard Panik played for the Belleville Bulls for two years-splitting his first season with the Windsor Spitfires, and the second with the Guelph Storm. He was drafted by the Tampa Bay Lightning, and sent a few years in their chain before playing in 2014-2015 for the Leafs. The Slovakian native moved to the Chicago Black Hawks the following year. He is enjoying great success this year, netting his 21st goal on Monday night. Playing on a line with Jonathan Toews has its rewards.

The Florida Panthers hosted the Hawks last Saturday night. The Hawks now have more than 100 points, one of four teams in that category. They have clinched a playoff spot, but would like to put a few points on the board for home ice advantage in the playoffs. On the way upstairs to watch the game, I overheard one scout say to another, “The Hawks can call up guys, or just slot in rookies, and they just seem to fit right in”. He may have been referring to John Hayden, who had just finished his season as a senior at Yale. In five games with the Hawks, Hayden has three points.

The game against the Panthers was the first of their two game Florida swing. The Hawks played the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday night. The y were on a roll, having won six of their seven previous games. Corey Crawford got the starting assignment in goal for the Hawks, James Reimer for the Panthers. The first period ended scoreless, and most analysts expected the Hawks to break the game open in the second period.

For the Hawks, that is when the roof caved in. Crawford was yanked after allowing four goals, four minutes into the third period. His replacement, Scott Darling, was no better, giving up three goals before the horn sounded, mercifully, to end the game. The Hawks did not get a puck past Reimer, who recorded his first shutout of the season. It was the largest margin of victory for the Panthers since an 8-0 drubbing of the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2008.

Several caps were tossed on the ice as a tribute to Jonathan Marchessault, the young Panther who scored his hat trick in the third period. He has been the brightest star for the Cats this season, having signed a free agent contract in the summer. He is one of those smaller forwards who can really shoot the puck, and knows how to find open spaces. His three goals increased his total to 28 thus far this season.

Richard Panik's night ended quietly, as he tussled with the Panthers' Derek MacKenzie. The scrap was deemed to be a fight, the second one after the play had stopped. They were tossed from the game half way through the third period.

After a couple of days in the sun, the Hawks took the ice against the Lightning, who are desperate to make the playoffs. The Hawks lost that game as well, falling 5-4 in overtime, after coughing up a 4-1 lead. Ouch!

                                                            Bob Pulford

Scotty Bowman's son Stan is the General Manager of the Hawks. Scotty was there to keep an eye on the team, as was Bob Pulford. Pulford is now 80 years old, and is certainly a veteran of the hockey wars. He played more than a thousand games in the NHL, and coached 829 games with the Kings and the Hawks. He has 4 Stanley Cups and 2 Memorial Cups on his mantle at home. In 1967, he notched an overtime winning goal for the Leafs in game three. Most Leaf fans recall that year. Pulford entered the Hall of Fame in 1991.

                                                   Bob Pulford, at the Panthers game.

The season was disappointing for the Panthers, decimated by injuries to their best players. Those still with the team are playing their hearts out, trying to leave a good impression with the brass. Contract time is just around the corner.

James Hurst
March 28, 2017

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