Well, tonight should be a spirited contest between two teams looking for a rebound. To date, both teams have played seven games, but the Hawks have manged to pull out at least a point from two SO losses while the Ducks have outright lost three. I tend to get paranoid about talking smack about incoming teams, but, the early season Ducks of this year are struggling a bit. Looking at the scores of their games so far and their goal differential of -1, it looks like they are picking up where they left off with every game being a close contest. Make no mistake, the top line of this team can make a lot of teams look very bad and I would just about bet a hundred bucks that Perry and Selanne each score at least one. Like the Avs and the Yotes, this is a team that wins by hanging around and not losing, which is the exact team that gives the Hawks fits. Still, if the game with the Yotes, the comeback loss to the Avs and the tie with Boston shows anything positive, I think it shows that this team has at the least fixed some the most exploited holes from last year. Considering that each team tends to have a strength that plays into an opposing weakness, I expect a close game but believe the Hawks will pull a win out.
Considering how pissed Q sounded in the post game, I would expect a better focus and a simpler game. In several early contests, this team had a net crasher on at least three lines every game and though they had more chances then goals, I don't think there is any question this lead to them looking strong. Conversely, in the first period on Saturday, the Avs seemed content to let them cycle on the boards at the hash marks and though the Hawks controlled the puck for a lot of that period, they still came out of it down. It seems self evident, but unlike the Avs, Yotes and Ducks, the Hawks are a team that is losing ground if they aren't scoring no matter how good they look cycling the puck. Everyone says it over and over, get bodies to the net and get pucks on net. When they start to get frustrated though, this is exactly what they don't do. The passes start getting too long, the extra passes start coming, and Kane and Hossa put on puck protection clinics that eventually lead to turnovers when they get tired. The Hawks are outshooting teams, but without people in front, their perimeter shots are just not that dangerous.
Though I was kind of pissed they lost the other night, I still see an improvement over last year. I'm as pissed as anyone that they have gone 0-6 on the shoot out and have looked dogshit awful while doing it. Still, against predominantly, in your face, teams this year, they have done pretty well and those are the games they most needed to improve on and those will be the kinds of games they need to win at playoff time. Compared to this point in the season last year, I feel a lot more optimistic on the upside of this team. For tonight, if they step back and play to the cliche of keep it simple, I think they will do just fine against the Ducks.
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