Breaking News Bar
updated: 4/27/2014 8:08 AM

Seabrook hit indeed the turning point for Hawks

hello
Success - Article sent! close
  • Just after Marian Hossa slapped the puck into the net in the first period of Game 5 on Friday, the Blues' David Backes checked him into the next. Backes missed Games 3 and 4 after a hard check by the Hawks' Brent Seabrook in Game 2, and many hockey pundits incorrectly theorized the Hawks were finished.

      Just after Marian Hossa slapped the puck into the net in the first period of Game 5 on Friday, the Blues' David Backes checked him into the next. Backes missed Games 3 and 4 after a hard check by the Hawks' Brent Seabrook in Game 2, and many hockey pundits incorrectly theorized the Hawks were finished.
    Associated Press

  • Blues center David Backes is tended to by trainer Ray Barile after taking a hit from Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook in the third period during Game 2. The hit turned out to be the turning point of the series, just not the way many experts expected it to be.

      Blues center David Backes is tended to by trainer Ray Barile after taking a hit from Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook in the third period during Game 2. The hit turned out to be the turning point of the series, just not the way many experts expected it to be.
    Associated Press

 
 

Just a week ago, the sky was falling and the Blackhawks had ruined their season by pushing back against the Big Bad Blues.

It was the turning point of the series -- we were informed by so many experts -- because Brent Seabrook hit David Backes, earned a suspension and destroyed the Hawks' season.

Order Reprint Print Article
 
Interested in reusing this article?
Custom reprints are a powerful and strategic way to share your article with customers, employees and prospects.
The YGS Group provides digital and printed reprint services for Daily Herald. Complete the form to the right and a reprint consultant will contact you to discuss how you can reuse this article.
Need more information about reprints? Visit our Reprints Section for more details.

Contact information ( * required )

Success - request sent close

There was weeping in the streets as the defending Stanley Cup champs had reached the end of the road because of a single hit, a narrative so lazy and absurd as to elicit laughter.

The Hawks, we were told, were dead and buried.

Turning point, indeed.

The Hawks have won three straight to take a 3-2 series lead over St. Louis after an overtime victory Friday night, and the Blues have lost all three since that incident, two of those games without their best player.

When the Blues lost their top center, they not only lost a great offensive player but also a strong defender who was third in the NHL in hits in the regular season and led the Blues with 11 through the first two games.

Backes plays on the edge at all times, looking to punish opponents' best players and always searching for an opportunity to knock a player out for the season, the series or merely cause pain -- as he did with a vicious cross-check on Marian Hossa when he scored the opening goal Friday night.

A guy who plays like that makes himself a target and probably shouldn't fight for a puck in the corner with his head down, and while no one wants to see anyone get hurt, Backes missing a couple games was undeniably beneficial for the Hawks.

Turning point, indeed.

"What would Chicago be with losing (Jonathan) Toews?" asked St. Louis coach Ken Hitchcock after Game 2. "For us, Backes is Toews. He's our No. 1 center. He plays the most minutes. He plays in every situation.

"No one person is able to take (Backes') slot. We don't have that. We don't have anybody that can come in and say, 'OK, you've got to take his minutes.' Somebody has to do extra work killing penalties.

"Other people have to be added. Other people have to step up and take faceoffs."

Center Patrik Berglund, who missed the first two games of the series with an injury, replaced Backes in the lineup for two games and averaged 15 minutes with a total of no points and 5 hits while posting a minus-4 and going 8-for-17 (47 percent) at the faceoff circle.

The Blues knew they could not replace Backes, especially since the Backes line was frequently up against the Toews line.

"I don't know how you make up for that," said Alex Steen. "He's our captain, our leader. It's tough not playing with him."

Backes returned to the lineup Friday night and was a nonfactor in 21:35. Clearly not 100 percent, Backes was a minus-2 with 2 shots and only 35 percent on faceoffs.

Backes, one of the dirtiest players in the league, took a hit from a Hawks team tired of his antics, a player Colorado coach Patrick Roy recently called "gutless" because Backes jumped 18-year-old Nathan MacKinnon, the presumptive Rookie of the Year who did not fight in his first season.

Yes, hitting is part hockey. Like it or not, hitting is part of the game and will always be a crucial part of the game. It's a physical sport. It is not ballet, despite the wailing of those new to the game who would prefer ice dancing.

Hitting is an effective tool that softens up defensemen, causes turnovers, takes a heavy toll and creates chaos for teams unable to handle a rough game.

In some cases, a hit can change a shift, turn a game, alter a series or end a season.

Witness the Hawks, who fought back, hit back and have taken back the opening series.

Of course, they're still a skate-first, score-first finesse team, designed to possess the puck, but despite the self-flagellation of Hawks fans and media who tremble at the very sight of a body on body, the Hawks are not afraid to finish their checks when given the opportunity, not afraid to make a statement when necessary.

In the case of Seabrook and Backes, whether you think it was a dirty hit or not -- politically correct or not -- the fact is it was absolutely the turning point of the series, just not the way many people feared.

No, the sky did not fall -- so they can stop weeping now.

brozner@dailyherald.com

• Listen to Barry Rozner from 9 a.m. to noon Sundays on the Score's "Hit and Run" show at WSCR 670-AM.

Share this page
Comments ()
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.
    help here