Good Ending to First Half
Ken Hitchcock could not have drawn up a better eding to the season's first half; two hard-fought road wins: a 4-2 victory over Dallas and last night's 1-0 victory in Chicago. Pascal Leclaire, the famous non-all star who leads the league in shut outs, earned his 8th of the season by stopping all 30 shots from a game Chicago team making Jared Boll's redirection second period goal hold up. Khabibulin was spectacular at times, keeping Chicago in the contest with some outstanding saves. Not to be out-done, Leclaire had a few great cross-crease saves, especially a sprawling skate save late in the third period. The Blackhawks have some scary quick young players. It will be good for the league to see a rejuvenated Chicago franchise in the next few years.
The team is playing hard in all phases of the game. Remarkably the penalty killing unit has climbed to #2 in the league. Solid play from veterans has inspired the young guys to raise their game up a level or two. One cannot underestimate the influence of veteran additions like Michael Peca or Jan Hejda in the off-season. With Foote's contract ending after this season, the improved play of the team is the only hedge they have in trying to keep him here. A game after seeing Kris Russell notch his first two NHL goals, it is imperative to keep Foote and let the defense solidify under his proven veteran leadership.
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Listened to Bettman's radio show via podcast the other day. Strange that they leave long periods of silence in the podcast, but not as strange as using as the theme song one that was used for a movie about a male gigolo.