Chicago Blackhawks vs Edmonton Oilers
We spent the New Year in windy, cold Chicago away from the blissful Sunny & Seventy San Diego to take in the sights, search for the Best Chicago Hot Dog, sample some Real Deep Dish Pizza and watch the Chicago Blackhawks crush the struggling Edmonton Oilers at Chicago’s “Madhouse”, Chicago’s home of NHL Hockey!
The morning of the game, we decided to grab an early breakfast at the Westin Hotel’s restaurant before venturing out to revisit The Bean hoping that fewer people would be there on New Years Morning – prime time for Photography! When we entered the breakfast area, immediately I could tell something was up! The first tip off was a bunch of people in the Lobby of the Hotel with Edmontom Oilers gear, all signed. Hmmm. Then as we entered to be seated, two young gentlemen looked right at me, had a few words and chuckled…I was wearing my Hockey Canada fleece!…Hmmmm. Next, there was a large group of young, tall, slim gentlemen in suits and ties chowing down immense amounts of food. We sat down, and Kathleen was facing the group. I looked over my shoulder curiously and saw that under each chair was a netted sports bag, and inside were some work-out clothes and orange and blue Nikes. Each bag had a number on it. I said to Kathleen, “Those guys are the freakin’ Edmonton Oilers!”
Kathleen pounced into action with her Smartphone, searched the Edmonton Roster and soon confirmed my suspicions. She then located Eric Belanger, whom our Daughter adores and pounced on him as well (Umm…for an Autograph). She cursed that she didn’t work out that morning in the hotel Gym as surely the Oilers did. It was awesome just seeing these guys. Now about the actual game!
After the opening ceremonies, the rabid Chicago crowd was whipped into a frenzy after two soft goals against Edmonton. We were treated to their “We got a goal” crowd song – Hockey Fans will know this one. Edmonton was not done and came blazing back – they are a young team and Fast! Here is Gangner attacking the net with Hall looking for a rebound….and being hooked by a Chicago defender.
With The Oilers on the attack, Chicago draws a Hooking Penalty on Taylor Hall (#4) giving Edmonton the man advantage. (By the way…We saw Taylor Hall being picked by Edmonton at the 2009 NHL Draft in Los Angeles – check previous posts).
Chicago’s goalie, Corey Crawford (a Montreal native), was stellar between the pipes stopping Gagner who looked stunned that the puck did not go in - Gagner is a real Sniper when it comes to pin point shooting but was no match against the intuitive net minding skills of Crawford!
As the two teams settled in, things turned a bit more physical. Here we see Eric Belanger and Jonathan Toews tangling behind the net. Penalties played a large role in this match, one of which ended in a Chicago suspension, two Edmonton goals, and two players injured. The NHL has to do something about violent headshots and boarding – this almost always leads to injuries and even worse, concussions. Pittsburgh Penguins Sydney Crosby is still not back to 100% after close to a year recovering from a concussion!
(Above) Physical play turned to a bit of roughness – things always get a bit touchy around the net, often leading to “altercations”. The Refs were quick to stop this from becoming a fight. Refs have such a tough job, Judge, Jury, Diplomat and always skating for the entire game!
Below, Eric Belanger pours on the pressure with the NHL Ref watching closely!
Tensions rise as the game is tied. Edmonton gets the next goal, and Chicago counters to again tie the game at 3 to 3. In the third period, Edmonton’s young guns score again. Chicago takes a Time Out to figure out how to overcome Edmonton’s defense.
During the final minutes of the game, the Chicago goalie, Corey Crawford, races to the bench to allow Chicago an extra man on the ice and leaving the Chicago net empty… hopefully over powering Edmonton, get a goal, and force the game into overtime.
The Chicago pressure was immense, the movement of their forwards was precise, shots were hard and accurate but to no avail. The underdog Oilers survived the onslaught of the best team in the NHL and left Chicago with a win under their belt. Hockey is never predictable!
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Kathleen and Erik