Well the Hawks are back at home tonight after a short and sweet road trip. Going into Thursday night's game, the Avs were absolutely on fire in that they had just returned from a road trip where they beat four teams currently out of playoff contention and the Maple Leafs. Both of the Avs losses have come at home, one to the Wings and one to the Hawks. This was a great trip for the Hawks, but like the Avs, they are coming home on a bit of a high and that's always a dangerous setup for a let down. Without a doubt, the Avs are again going to come at them hard but on the plus side, there aren't going to be any surprises here. Going into that last game, most prognosticators had the same outlook; the Avs are fast and skilled but still suspect on D. Looking at how the Hawks goals got set up, they came from winning battles down low and I see no reason why that won't work again.

The Hawks record so far is quite respectable. Two of the Hawks wins have been against the Avs and the Stars, both of whom are ahead of the Hawks right now. Though the Jets and the Yotes are not powerhouse teams, the win against the Jets came after spotting them two goals and enduring a well played Q timeout. As for the Yotes, that was simply a solid win with a lot of hard work and willingness to grind. The game with Boston was a let down and was a game they probably should have won. Still, compared to getting spanked 3-0 by them last year, I thought this was an improvement. As for the loss to the Stars, meh, it was close and the follow up response was exactly what you want to see.

Looking up at the three teams ahead of the Hawks, it's an arguable point to say that those teams have not really had a tough schedule to date. Detroit is doing what it always does and like last year, the Avs and the Stars are off to great starts. Considering that the Avs and Stars had great starts last year only to later fall precipitously, I don't hold a lot of stock in the current standings as some predictor. I am, however, happy that the Hawks have gotten wins or taken at least a point from teams with a variety of styles. Six games is a very small sample, but they have lost two one goal games, won two one goal games (discount empty nets) and won two pretty decisive contests. Considering the competition, I'd say that's a pretty good showing.

Without a doubt, the core is playing better this year and has factored heavily into the current record. To a player, they look refreshed, hungry and have adapted and taken their games up a notch, particularly Kane and Bickell. The new additions, to me, have done exactly what they are supposed to. On paper, each had a known skill set and each has delivered on what was expected. Montador was a slow start but has been improving quite a bit. The unexpected surprise, of course, has been Carcillo. It still amazes me that in Thursday night's game his TOI was nearly identical to Sharp's. I don't think anyone expected that. It's still way early, but this short road trip showed some promising things and some nice potential upside. I still don't think this team is playing it's best hockey, and that's a good thing.

Lastly, I feel the need to again sing the praise of Q and SB. Most of us were happy with the acquisitions as they were coming in over the summer though we scratched our heads at Montador (salary anyway) and Carcillo. With each passing game though, I think SB is looking smarter and smarter for what he has given Q to work with. As for Q, I think he needs props as well. Talent is a lot of the equation and without a doubt, Q had a lot of talent when they won the cup. Still, not all coaches win with a lot of talent and it was no small feat to go from not making the playoffs to winning the cup in just two seasons. Last year, Q had to deal with an enormous loss of talent AND depth of role players. In the players he retained, he had what frequently looked like a lack of hunger to deal with. I'll admit I was frequently in the camp of Q bashers and I don't take back a lot of what I bitched about. Still, had the Hawks made the second round, I doubt anyone bitches very much.

With what he has been given to work with this year, I think Q has done a good job. I still don't like the Keith/Leddy thing, but for at least one game now, there has been something positive there. Nobody likes the John Scott thing, but it can't be said that Scott has cost us a game. Not many people at the start of the season liked the idea of Kane at center or the idea of Carcillo on Kane's line, but those complaints are fading fast. Like SB, Q inherited a solidly built team that was just about ready to explode. After one season of, "meh" from top to bottom, Q is into his second year of rebuilding and he and SB are both putting their stamp on this team. Yes, his core is playing better and with a hunger they didn't have last year. Still, in just a short sample, I feel like I'm seeing an adaptability in this team that didn't exist last year and I give credit to Q for having a hand in that. That's a lotta words for six games.

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  • I think there is much praise to send in SB's way. Your right Vegas, the Hawks are showing some adaptability to their game and that has much to so with off-season grabs.

    I also think that the rolling of 3 solid lines, and use of a more balanced ice-time across the board is helping the core stay fresh and ready. Guys like Carcillo and Brunette have helped the Hawk's board game which was most definitely the difference against the Avs, and yes, Montador is looking fairly decent (although I still think Campoli was the better option).

    I will still choose to complain about seeing Scott, but more because we have better skilled players also sitting out. Why have we not seen Lepisto yet? However, like you, I think Q is starting to gel with his team, and see a slightly different approach from the past 2 seasons, which is making me a happy Hawks fan.

  • I hear you on Scott, skill for skill, there is no one on the team he outplays and as such, there will never be a night it makes sense to play him over some other guy. On the other hand, I look back at the cup run and the fourth line seemed to always be in rotation. If Scott can come in and play five or six serviceable minutes when he plays, it will just be one of things I shrug my shoulders at. I'm still going to reserve judgment on Montador until mid season.

    I liked Campoli too, but I think he was really a victim of circumstance. Given what the Hawks paid for Montador, which is likely too much, you can't blame Campoli for asking for the money he did. However, since they had already committed to Montador, there was really no way they could pay anything near that for Campoli. Around the league, not many other teams seemed to want to pay that either. He's the anti Campbell in a way. When Campbell hit his big ass pay day, he was pretty much the biggest fish in a shitty free agency market. What SB was thinking when he signed Montador would be interesting to know. Did he plan on Montador being kind of a swing guy who primarily helps eat up minutes? Did they plan on him being second pair or was he insurance in case Leddy was not living up to top ice time? Or was the bigger reason to have more veteran presence at playoff time? At this point, he's not going to get more skilled, but I think he can and will fit in better as the season progresses. I would like to see some more of LePisto, maybe tonight?

  • If I was writing the wrap tonight, I would have gone from Spin to Spun as I think the Avs completely turned around the game the Hawks played and did to them exactly what Chicago did in Colorado. One point is better then none, but that last goal was inexcusable and it was on Brunette. You can maybe give Keith some grief for jumping Leddy's turf, but it's not like there weren't bodies back. I'm pretty pissed they lost the game, but then again, had they won, it would have been an absolute robbery of a game that they were never really in control of.

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