Question: Does Stalberg start the next game on the Toews line despite the return of Carcillo? Answer: Yes.
Patrick Kane was the star of the night, netting 2 himself and setting up one while at it. If not for the stellar play of Pecka Rinne, it might have been a 3 goal, 2 assist night for the booming centerman. Although, one of Kaner's was a surprisingly weak goal against a goaltender like Rinne. In the end, both keepers performed outstanding at times, and both gave up a couple I am sure they want back.
Even with the outstanding play of Patrick Kane tonight (really, he was all over the offensive zone), the talk will fall on the guy who has back-to-back game winning goals, and totaling 3 in the last 2 contests. Viktor "The Jet" Stalberg used his brilliant speed against the Jackets to lift the Hawks, and he did again tonight in overtime to finish off what was a surprising display of offensive power from both teams all night long. I was expecting a 2-1 win, 5-4, not even in my wildest dreams. This could just be a fluke for the young and explosive forward, but I can't help feel like Stalberg is starting to back-up some of the things I have said about him in the past.
It wasn't just his goal, or his speed tonight. Stalberg was playing smart hockey, making small, but important plays and might be starting to get a feel for top 3 ice-time. I am also a huge fan of the Kane/Hossa/Sharp thing. Always a promoter of Kane and Sharp on a line together (doesn't anyone else see their chemistry?), they showed tonight why breaking them up might not be the best course of action. I also like that having Sharp with Kane gives the ability to switch them at face-offs. Q has choices, and some important decisions to make.
One decision that I am tired of talking about is the choice to dress John Scott for these games. Q did give him 1 more shift than he had last game, a whopping 4, but the whole situation is getting tired and old and frankly, making Q look silly. He is just taking up space on the bench. We didn't even see more of him after Keith left with what looks like a wrist injury, so any reasoning behind the matter is just void of thought.
Keith's departure did however give us a longer look at Sami Lepisto. Following my thoughts from last game, I like this kid and hope to see much more of him moving forward. Physical presence, puck control, speed, and shot, this guy has it all. I would even argue he deserves Montador's spot if the positive play continues. To add more about the defensive side of the equation, the Hawks are looking promising here. Leddy scored again, making his ability to fill Campbell's shoes look more positive with every shift. Montador is coming along, and Keith seems mostly back to old form. I still think the pairings need some changing, but all in do time.
I made it pretty far without mentioning the pink elephant in the room. The Hawks were 0 for 8 on the Power-Play. Granted, they looked really, really good on the last one, and had some decent looks on other's, but there was a 5-on-3 and the Hawks are out of excuses here. Continued failure in this department will most likely warrant some coaching shifts. This is an area that has to improve, outstanding goaltending or not. With the exception of the last PP, the Hawks are just flat, un-creative, and blowing the entrance into the zone.
At least the PK is having a stellar year. #1 in fact. I actually have more confidence in the Hawks scoring while short-handed rather than with a man advantage.
Lets see, here are some other thoughts from the game:
- An early goal by the Preds put the Hawks in trailing mode. A place they stayed until late in the game. This came off a weird bounce, but CC still misplayed it.
- Crawford was also extremely huge on 2 timely breakaways by the Preds. A difference for sure.
- Would someone please force Hossa to shoot pucks at the top shelf all next practice. When is this guy gonna learn?
- Stalberg was being double shifted to avoid playing Scott. When will this hurting stop?
- Another bad example of defensive zone coverage allowed the 2nd goal against. The scrambling is continuing to leave guys open.
- I loved watching Leddy pinch and it paying off. Lepisto also had some nice looks due to the offensive sense of the pointmen.
- Toews and Seabs made great plays during the Pred's 2-man advantage. A shame that they eventually scored on it.
- Frolik's performance continues to excite, and it payed off tonight with a huge goal from Bickell. A blast that never would have happened without Fro's play.
- Seabrook should have read the play better when Tootoo caught a breakaway after a Lepisto shot block. The pairings are not communicating or covering each other so well. The defenses ability to create scoring chances looks promising, but their defense still needs some time.
- A large rebound that the Hawks could not control was the reason overtime.
- One last chance at the PP showcased some fancy passing and primo chances. Rinne was there for all of them. It is all cool, because it gave Stalberg a chance to win it with a highlight reel goal.
- Maybe the biggest positive point of the game is on how well the Hawks 3rd period play was. Gone is the 3rd period of last year. Gone is the falling behind and staying there, and gone is the giving up on games late. The 3rd period is becoming the most impressive for the Hawks and a nice addition it is.
I think I am still in a bit of shock at the way this game played out. Not even close to what I was expecting. Like in most of the games this year so far, there are things I am happy with, and things I am not. Figure out the PP and half of those woes go away. Stop dressing Scott and another big portion is taken away. Thankfully, the things that need work can be fixed with just that, some work. The things that are good are much harder to create, which is why I am sticking to my prediction from my comment in the last post by Vegas. This team will be a powerhouse by the end of the season if they stay healthy and make some minor adjustments. The win tonight puts them at 7-2-2 which is a great start to the season.The End