Blackhawks win behind goals from Kruger, Stalberg, and Frolik.

Blackhawks win behind goals from Kruger, Stalberg, and Frolik.

The odds of being able to have a title like that in the future are about as likely as Q never dressing John Scott for another game. The odds of mentioning how Dave Bolland scored a breakaway shorty in a future post is worth putting money on. Really quick before I get to the positive stuff, John Scott only had 3 shifts totaling 1.44 minutes of ice, and the Hawks had 4 more hits than they did in the last game, with 14. That has to change.

On the bright side, the Hawks were able to score 3 goals on the Power-Play, too bad not a single one counted. Which leaves us with a still struggling PP that has no excuses. I will give them that it looked better, but the game was tied for a time, and timely PP's were unable to produce. This has too change for the Hawks to be top contenders for the Cup. Another team might have destroyed them for such things, and Columbus almost did.

The Hawks jumped out of the gate against a severely hurting Columbus team. The Jackets have been struggling to score goals lately, can't buy a win, and were without 5 of their regular skaters. It was also Sanford's, the goaltenders first NHL game. The young man did well considering, but the odds were against him. Sounds like a team worthy of getting beat by the superior Hawks.

Early items worth mentioning included the Hawks regular season debut of Sam Lepisto, Emery's 2nd, no Carcillo,  and the continued dressing of John Scott. I actually  think that Scott looks better this year, but what is the point if he is going to skate a shift or two? It is the same as being a guy short on the bench.

Emery looked solid early, making some key saves and then repeating that performance throughout the whole game. The Jackets ability to create offense has no correlation between their standing and goal production. This team is quick, feisty and could have easily taken it away if not for some tough saves by Emery.  Luckily for us, the Hawks tallied first at the hands of a Kruger rebound. The first goal of the game and of Kruger's career came from going hard to the net, fancy that and a nice shot from Mayers. Unfortunately, that same 4th line was overmatched  moments later and gave up the lead. As mentioned, Columbus is a quick team, maybe not the best time to play Scott.

In what is becoming to be an all too consistent sight, the Hawks are getting taken advantage off when their defensive zone coverage falls apart. On the first goal, all the forwards bunched up leaving an empty man. This lack of coverage continued to be a problem throughout, despite a 5-2 win.

So, Carcillo was out of the line-up this time. Instead we got to see more of Stalberg, who I thought looked pretty decent in the Carolina game, and should have warranted more ice-time then. The first 2 lines ended up looking something like this. Toews/Brunette/Stalberg and then Hossa/Kane/Sharp. I was interested to see what Stals would do on a top line and happy to see a Sharp-Kane reunion. The result was pleasing and shows how many options the Hawks might have in the future. I still think that Carcillo has earned his keep in the top 2, but Stalberg's speed is a thing of beauty that cannot be ignored.

Here are some game notes:

  • The penalty kill looks great. In fact, it produces more goals than the PP. Bolland's breakaway shorty was the result of hard pressure, heads-up play, and Bolland's ability to find a hole on breakaways. It is so hard to reason why he has not been selected for the shootout.
  • The heads-up play mentioned just then was from Frolik who continues to play outstanding hockey. He even picked up another goal. An empty netter, but still a puck in the net for Frolik who is looking to find better luck than he had last year.
  • The power-play looked better, but still was without any valid production. Entry into the zone was much cleaner. I just don't think they are moving the puck quick enough given their talent. They need to come up with some three pass, one-timer plays that can be unloaded quick and cleanly. Get the puck on net without hesitation and provide bodies in front. The blast by Sharp in the 2nd while on the PP that dented the crossbar and post in one shot is what I am talking about. He is the finisher. Quick rotations to him in a key area equates to results.
  • Not only was the PP's zone entry cleaner, I thought the ability of the Hawks to move the puck from the D to the forwards was much better all around. The D looked faster than usuall. Could this have something to do with Lepisto being in the line-up?
  • I have been asking for a look at this Lepisto kid and we got one last night. I liked what I saw, but think he was playing it safe. His comfort with the puck is easily noticed and I hope we get some more looks soon.
  • This was the best I have seen Emery in a Hawks uniform. Maybe it was the new helmet. Either way, it was a promising performance.
  • The Toews line was equally as productive with Speedy in the mix. I can't figure out how Brunette could keep up with these 2, but they all combined for a bunch of chances and eventually 3 goals.
  • Again, defensive coverage blows a lead. Hjalmer took a spill in the 2nd allowing for a Columbus rush, but it was the scrambling of the Hawks afterward that caused the goal, leaving a Jacket all alone in front to grab a rebound from a few feet out. This equalizer for the Jackets immediately followed another failed PP by the Hawks. Goals against right after failed PP's is also becoming a trend. This might be a good time to note that Columbus has one of the worst PK's in the league.
  • Finally, Stalberg used his super hero speed for good and not evil. He came up with a huge goal not long after another Hawk's goal was waived off. It came in 4 - on - 4 hockey right before the Jackets could start their PP. The ice was wide open and Stablerg's speed was primed for the opportunity.
  • Stalberg again!!! Not only did he score on his next shift, but he also had another prime chance before receiving a beautiful pass from Brunette to score his 2nd on the night, and then produced another explosive breakaway on the next shift where he just missed. Me thinks this warrants another game with top-line ice. I will ignore his turnover shortly after scoring his 2nd.
  • The Blackhawks stint at staying out of the box is well over.
  • Lastly, could someone hit somebody please.

Closing remarks:

Good game. The Hawks got 5 after going scoreless for 60, and they had net pressure all night long. I thought the effectiveness of all 3 top lines was evident, even with a few changes. It will be hard to decide between playing Carcillo if Stalberg can keep up his production. Kane/Hossa/Sharp should be a really good thing, not that Carcillo has been hurting anything on that line. The main concerns moving forward are improving the defensive zone, figuring how to stay out of the box again, and working out those Power-Play kinks. Also, 24 hits over 120 minutes of play is pretty pathetic. The Hawks have the Preds tomorrow night at home who are not exactly shining brightly right now, but always leave the Hawks scrounging for goals.

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  • Good points HH. I tried to watch the game in the motel room last night, but the buffering was horrible. What I saw did not look very good to me, but the thought I came away with this morning is this, It's a very long season and though the Jackets really suck right now, they, and a dozen teams like them, have it in them on any given night to come out and beat or strangle the better teams in the league. THESE are the teams the Hawks frequently could not beat last year and despite being better this year, the Hawks are still going to probably come out of most contests against weaker teams with a barely win.

    The cast of characters did okay last night, and they got goals from guys they haven't yet. Unfortunately, I don't think the overall look of the game would have changed much with different players. After a three - zip loss to the Canes, I honestly expected a better effort. But, one consistent trait this team shows is that it doesn't seem to get very excited for weak teams, especially early in the season. In the long run, I think they win more of these types of games then they lose this season, but there is no doubt there are going to be more Carolina type stinkers that make people want to scream.

    Several Hawks veterans seem to have an ability to step up a gear at playoff time. That they wait to do so really sucks, but it just seems to be a fact of life with this team. We're going to complain a lot about the same shit for most of the season, but consciously or not, I think there are several guys on this team who are not going to play their best hockey until next spring.

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