Things ended in the UC exactly like they should have, Hawks 4 - Panthers 0.

This game started and ended in just the way someone might expect from these two teams. Not wanting to repeat their last meeting, the Hawks established a quick tempo and put the pressure on Vokoun early. Though it might have taken half the game to get the first goal, the Hawks soon had 4 by the final minutes of play, and Crawford picked up his 4th shutout of the season.

Filling in for Sharp, Stalberg showed that pretty much anyone can score on that line. I don't mean to put Stalberg down, but rather to compliment the other two guys who are making things happen. Actually, Stalberg's presence was felt from the get go. By going very hard to the net in the opening minutes, he forced the Panthers to take a bad penalty that resulted in the rattling of their goaltender. No goals would be scored on this PP, or the next 2 for that matter, but Stalberg's speed continued to be a pleasure to watch on the top line.
Early chances were mostly in the Hawk's favor, and Crawford was there for when Florida tried to cash in on a Hawk's mistake. Trying to build from these mistakes was about all the Panthers could do to stay busy. And though their might have been a bit more mistakes than I am happy about, the Hawks did have the puck all night, so things were bound to take a bad bounce against them from time to time.
What impressed me most about the play was how hard the forecheck was. On top of that, maybe catching a bit of the Stalberg bug, Kane was flying around the ice too. He was a speed demon, rarely stated about his play, but damn was he moving tonight. He also scored a goal after a really nifty passing play that was so quick and crisp that even his whiffing on the puck couldn't keep it out of the net.
Wanting their own quality passing play, the Hossa line cashed in on goal number 4 with an even better progression of puck movement ending with a Kopecky finishing shot.
And who could forget the blast by Seabrook that started it off, and ended a drought on the power-play. It took 4 PP's for the guys in red to finally convert. It ended when Seabrook murdered a one-timer past Vokoun. Speaking of the devil, I was even taking note about Seab's overall play. Not many mistakes and a little pep in his step. Nice to see with the current roster situation, i.e injuries. Keith and company looked strong tonight. Though that PK still needs a fire lit under their asses. All except maybe Hjammer.
On that injury note: I have little to say about the new guy. Kruger was there, but he wasn't really involved from what I saw. I was neither impressed nor upset about his play. Brouwer and Bickell stole the spot light and I was surprised nothing went in for them.
As noted, in the end things looked exactly how they should. With the exception of the Dallas-Anaheim game going into OT (AAARRRRGGHHH!) the night was a good one. Makes beating those pesky Ducks even more important on Saturday. I could mention a few other less than great things about the Hawks play tonight, but why bother. With the Calgary loss, things became a little less crowded in the West.


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  • In honesty, I was getting pretty bored until they finally scored. Between the constant one and done's and 3/4's of a big ass pizza (they have Aurellio's here in Henderson BTW), I was nearly sleeping. Flarida was choking the shit out of this game and on the plus side, the Hawks are FINALLY learning to deal with this on a regular basis. Ultimately, the kitties are not a playoff team and I while give the Hawks credit for staying patient, a loss tonight would have been unacceptable. Not much really to read into one way or the other. On Kruger, I kind of agree. He didn't wow me, but he didn't do anything horribly bad. Penalties like the one he took can be forgiven then the shutout lasts.

    The Ducks continue to amaze me with their ability to remain in the playoff hunt with a negative goal differential. At some point on Saturday, Teemu is going to score an annoying goal and you can go ahead and put money on that. If it's late in the third and the Hawks are up by one, Q should just send send Kruger out there to fight him and get him off the ice. This is going to be a tough game though. One game at a time. Was it just me or did Sharp look ridiculous wearing a ski cap with his suit?

  • At this point, all that really matters is that they won, and no one got hurt.

    We'll cut Kruger a little slack. The guy just got off a plane from Europe about 18 hours ago to play his first NHL game with a brand new team in front of a crazy UC crowd... I'm sure the Hawks coaches told him to just play safe hockey tonight.

    Crawford is awesome. There's always a lot of talk about Toews being the MVP, and it's well deserved. But this season could have easily been a disaster without the unexpected phenominal play of the 'backup' netminder.

  • What a weird game. Was the ice bad or what? The puck was bouncing all over the place. The Panthers make the Preds look like an offensive juggernaut. If it wasn't for the 'hawks playing, I'm asleep as well.

    Kruger, I watched as closely as I could and I noticed he hardly handled the puck, but, he was in there battling along the boards and chipping away at loose pucks. The poor guy probably had serious jet lag so let's give him some time. He is diminutive though.

  • From a distant Hawks fan in Baghdad,

    I have to extend my admiration and appreciation to HH and all the contributors to the insightful recaps, breakdowns, and opinions generated on this site. The time difference and internet speed I encounter prevents me from streaming the games, and I look forward to every update here. In addition, it's just nice to read comments without the LOL's, OMG's, and WTF's that are so common and so childish on so many other sites.

    Thank you all.

  • In reply to rstanton1:

    I hear you about the reader comments on other sites. Kind of why I started this one.

  • In reply to rstanton1:

    I agree with Vegas, and half way through the game I was singing the same tune. Kudos to the Hawks for figuring it out, but it was starting to look like the Hawks would not get anything by Vokoun and maybe the Panthers would get lucky again. The Hawks stayed the course, got a little desperate for a while there, but finished with a bang.

  • In reply to rstanton1:

    First off, My hat is off to all in the military stationed in far off places.
    Both the Stalberg and the Kocpecky goals were things of beauty. Unselfish,crisp passing to the open man. Hockey at it's best.


  • In reply to rstanton1:

    A big hats off here as well to all US military personnel around the world. You guys can do no wrong in my book. I'm just finishing reading "Lone Survivor" which is the account of the ambush of Navy SEAL Team 10 in the mountains of Afghanistan. Amazing story of some true heroes in this world. Highly recommended.

    OK, here's a viewpoint question I'll throw out there if anyone wants to offer their 2 cents. I'm just wondering how you all view some of the other games between western teams on the edge of the last playoff spots. For example, looking at the standings right now, suppose a hypothetical game between the Kings and the Flames were to take place tonight. Would you want the Kings to win and therefore hopefully establish more of a gap for the top 8 teams? Or would you want the Flames to win which draws them right into the thick, but keeps the Kings from moving ahead of the Hawks for the time being? We all know it would probably end up being a 3-point game, but if by some miracle it didn't, what do you think?

  • In reply to iplagitr:

    So far, I've

  • In reply to fourfeather:

    Trust me, I have no good answers! At this point in this season, the goal for this team seems to be just to make it into the playoffs, so I personally lean towards wanting separation for the top 8 teams from the rest of the pack. So in the hypothetical example I gave, I would usually tend to want to see the Flames not gain any ground on the top 8.

    That said, I think we all agree 110% with FF that Chicago does not want to face Vancouver in the first round, so it's tough to watch other teams leapfrog the Hawks within those top 8 places. See, I told you I had no answers...

    I guess all that really matters is that the Hawks keep winning, and things will take care of themselves. If I were crazy, I might point out that Chicago is 7 points behind Detroit... but obviously the opportunity exists to directly take 6 points in their remaining 3 meetings. OK, yeah, I'm getting way ahead of myself there.

  • In reply to iplagitr:

    I don't think that Vancouver wants to face the Hawks either.

  • In reply to puckpowwow:

    I know what you're getting at, but I think those nut-jobs up in Vancouver would like nothing more than to face the Hawks this year. Remember last season when they were all in heat over the chance to supposedly get revenge for the year before? You could see the hate in their eyes. Now this season they have to be even more crazed about finally getting a chance to eliminate Chicago. I think for a lot of the fans, that's as important as winning the cup. It would be like the Bulls finally beating the Pistons in '91.

    Don't get me wrong. If the Hawks are healthy, I definitely wouldn't bet against them. That would be a great series. And would there be anything better than seeing them chase Luongo from the dance yet again!?

  • In reply to iplagitr:

    Those nut-jobs do want to face the 'hawks. They feel it is their chance to exact some revenge and regardless of the fact that this 'hawks team is not the same as the one that has eliminated them, they still are the cup champs. They're cocky too, and to a degree they should be this year. The 'hawks' list of injuries pales in comparison to the Canucks injury situation. Yet, they've managed to walk through most of the league this year without much of a problem all the while getting experience for their depth players. They won't be an easy out this year, that's for sure. The buzz up here is that the Preds, 'hawks, and Ducks will give them the most problems.

  • In reply to fourfeather:

    From what I've read on TSN, "cocky" is an understatement.

  • In reply to iplagitr:

    I think Dallas gets in over the Ducks, but I am in no way counting the Ducks out. If things stayed the way they were today, the first round would be interesting. I don't put it past Nashville to take out any of the top 3 in the first round. Detroit especially, given goaltending. Phoenix is surprising me in their present situation. They have a knack for hanging around longer than they should, and it is how they beat the Hawks from time to time.
    I agree with Vegas on the Hawk's placement by the end. 5th, maybe 4th, and a long shot to take the Wings 3 in a row.
    For what it is worth, I just don't want the Hawks to face Nashville in the first round, so I don't care how they get in, as long as they do. So, I want any team higher in the standings to win right now making the gap between 8th and 9th widen.

  • In reply to fourfeather:

    I believe the top seven right now will be there at the end and my only coin toss is between the Ducks and the Stars for the last spot, and I think that whoever wins that battle will be the 7th or 8th seed. As for who is in the middle, I'm really not sure it makes a whole lot of difference. I'd like to see the Hawks finish four or five and I'm penciling them in for the 5 slot. On the downside, I believe the Preds will wind up in fourth and now that they seem to have learned how to score, look out. Regardless of who the top three play, I expect the top three seeds to beat all first round opponents in five games or less. Despite the closeness in the standings, I really don't believe the conference is as tight and the standings suggest.

    Based on this outlook, I don't see any teams that I don't think the Hawks have no chance against. But then again, I can't think of a team I would want to see them play first. The wings are another year older and have struggled with teams that make their bones on speed. This is probably not a bad year to face them. The nucks and the Sharks are both very good teams that have the same hurdle to get over in the playoffs. A huge plus for our guys is that THEY know what it's like and what it takes. It's still a bit early for this talk but that's my .03 for now.

  • In reply to rstanton1:

    Guitar, Here's my three cents(inflation) worth. The top eight teams in the west will be the top eight teams at the end of the season, just a matter of seeding. The Flames have out of it for awhile. Dallas which is in 9th place this morning has only one home game left. Hence they're cooked as well. The team I think will rise is that evil creature that is Nashville. Four games against non playoff teams. The Back to Back games at Detroit and at Boston will decide the Hawks seeding. At least, that's my train of thought.


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