The Hawks proved that they do have a few tricks up their sleeves last night in a shootout win over the Ducks, who tend to be a mighty threat from time to time. The win brings about good news for a bunch of reasons. First, that the Hawks can score in a shootout. Second, that Chicago's proud dynamic duo Toews, and Kane are shinning like the bright stars we treat them as. Third, that the good old PK is back to form. And, fourth, the performance by new offensive names on the roster continues to prove SB a smart man.
And, because I love to beat a dead horse (not really, I am vegan), here is an area I still have issues with. Defensive changes over the summer break. Montador, though improving over the past few games continues to give me reasons for being upset about Campoli's non-deal. O'Donnell had a rough game (although his prior performances suggest he was a nice grab), which brings to a thought. Even before the game started I was questioning why we have not seen Lepisto yet. Scott has played, O'Donnell has seen a ton of ice, along with Montador, and the Hawks often scavenge for offense against the Ducks. Just a thought, we have him, so why not see him play.
Last night's game is not about complaining though. The Hawks won a hard fought battle. Twice they were trailing, and twice they tied it up. Add the performance from the other night against the Avs, and we start to paint a picture of a determined offense who can be clutch when necessary. That statement is of course ignoring the 2 late breakaways by Hossa and Frolik that went without a goal.
A win against the Ducks is an appreciated win. Even though they have a lot of new faces, many with limited NHL experience, their core is strong and they have a duo maybe even more dynamic than Toews and Kane. They are gritty, play a strong defensive game and can strike at any moment.
Here are my notes for the game:
- The Hawks are starting and finishing strong. No more 3rd period woes. They came out of the gate with pressure and should have finished the Ducks off by all intents and purposes in the 3rd.
- One way they are being productive is by getting bodies to the net. A few rebounds went without some cash produced, but they are trying and succeeding. This has much to do with Carcillo and Brunette.
- An area that is not looking so great is the Power-Play, and I could use a good excuse as to why from Q and company. There is no way it should be under performing so much. No shots on net is out of the question in a full 2 minutes.
- The Penalty Kill is seeing more offensive looks than the PP. They allowed a Getzlaf goal during one PK, but wasn't it obvious the Perry/Getzlaf machine would score anyway? I would still urge the PK to improve on how much time they give the opposition to enter the zone. More pressure at this moment might help avoid a hard-working kill.
- I wouldn't call this the best performance by the Hawks this year, but there were moments of brilliance. A shout has to go out to Mayers for sticking up for his teammates. And another to Kane for saving a goal after being the first player back into the defensive zone. Never mind where Keith was.
- Seabrook might have been the silent player of the game.
- Kane was the loud player of the game. Overall, I would most likely give that honor to Toews, but Kaner was and has been at top form. His assist to Hossa was a thing of magic obtained by a select few. He was setting people up all damn day with crisp passes, one of which Sharp also cashed in on.
- Let us also give Carcillo some props on the Kane to Hossa goal. If not for him in the middle of the mess rushing the net it would have never happened. He drew 2 players away from the sneaking Hossa who ended up scoring what he called one of the easiest goals of his life.
- Frolik continues to look damn good with the exception of that scoring thing.
- Selanne scored his 640th goal placing him at 13th overall in the history of the NHL. Booing his name when mentioned as one of the players of the game was not very classy Chicago. Not very classy indeed.
- Maybe Selanne can sprinkle some of that scoring dust on Stalberg. I think Frolik will figure it out on his own.
- Hossa drew quite a bit of iron. He leads the Hawks in scoring, but an inch in one direction would have made a large gap between him and Bolland in that race. Question: has anyone ever seen Hossa make a move on a goaltender instead of shooting?
Like I said, all in all a good game. Toews has been a treat to watch, the team is grittier than last year, they even out-hit the Ducks last night. First time in a while to see that stat. The whole core is producing and outplaying the other team's best players, and they have picked up a point in every game with the exception of the first one.
An area of concern is again the defense. My main gripe lately has been their caution in attacking players behind and around the net. They are doing better clearing rebounds and beating up on people after they shoot, but they seem content allowing CC to make that first awkward save. More than a few times, opposing players have just walked from behind the net to generate a scoring chance or have made the easy centering pass. The good news is that all of the Hawk's issues are easily dealt with. They are highly visible and are things that can be worked on in practice.
Lastly, but not least is the performance of Corey Crawford. I have not said much on the matter, maybe because it just seems obvious. His play has been strong and confident, has kept the Hawks in games and is an area that concerns me very little. He even seemed slightly off his game last night, but you would never know. His positioning and reaction time has been spot on. 2 big saves kept it tied late in the game.
2 day break until the next game against the Hurricanes. Check back at PowWow before then for some more Hawks conversation.