I am going to start somewhere that I rarely do with this game recap. It could be argued that I do not give Marian Hossa the love and respect with which he deserves, and well, today is the time to make reparations. In what could be considered a very complete win by the Hawks, the kind that leaves you feeling warm and comfortable inside (unfortunately, we haven't seen many of them), Hossa was leading the charge. His explosive power has been helping to lift the Hawks for some time now, and I guess it is time to point it out. Don't get me wrong, I still have my critiques of this bull named Hossa, but the kind of play that brought about the Hjalmer goal comes from a type of magic that only he can perform. His offensive contributions are good enough to now have him leading the team in points, even over Captain Marvel, which is saying a lot.
I say complete win, because we saw good all around. The offense did their thing, the defense was damn solid, even in the face of a lost Seabrook, and Ray Emery was a solid goalie once again in net. The only sad element lingering in my brain is that I felt the Hawks should have helped Emery to the shut-out or at least a 1-goal game. Give credit to the Flames on this though, as they battled back hard into a game that was almost completely out of reach. Well, actually there is another sad thing lingering in my brain and it has to do with Seabs. I don't want to rain on this happy parade, spoiling all the good things to revel in, but Seabs might have just suffered another concussion, which gives too much reason to doubt his return in the near future and to start worrying about the rest of his career.
Okay, stop worrying, Q said he seemed okay after the game. His loss also brings us to some of the best parts of last nights victory. Namely, that the defense was pretty darn good, brilliant if you consider the missing Seabs for the better half of the game. How good was it you ask? Even Scott was a +2 on the night, though don't get me started on that guy. He didn't blow anything, but he still is the lesser candidate under Lepisto and O'Donnell, and he didn't give anything to the physicality of a game that was getting out of hand in that department.
Hjalmer had one of his best game of the year, both defensively and offensively which landed him with his 1st goal of the year and added to his league leading blocked shots count. This is even more inspiring given his role after Seabs went out. Keith was also on his game, something that is starting to become a trend for the talented defensemen. Could Dunc Norris be on the return?
Montador had a strong overall game, even scoring the night's first goal which is nice to see. Nick Leddy might have been the silent hero defensively though. He was having a rough patch lately, which he seems to have gotten through given his performances last night and in the Duck's game. The thing that encourages me about Leddy, is that he is willing to take the hit for the team, an attribute that he seems to be getting better at rather than becoming more frail with every hit. He has the ability to fight through checks, win battles he seemingly should not and is the best puck-handler on the back-end.
Next on my list of important things about last night's game is the recalled Jeremy Morin. Not gonna lie, I was happy to read about it a couple of days ago. I like this kid. However, his presence was not as appreciated during the game as I had hoped for. He most likely needs a little more time getting used to the situation, but how about the move to put him on the 1st line? This is one of those moves where I question Q's thinking again. Sure, Q notched his 600th win, yay for him, but why would you take Stalberg off of a line that he is rolling well with. The funny thing is that it seemed to impact Kane and Toews more than it hurt Stalberg who had a solid performance and was a big reason for the 1st goal. Still, it kept Stal's ice-time down, even after helping that first goal which might not have been the best thing for the team. That first line had some defensive issues in more than one occasion and when you realize how effective of a back-checker Stalberg is, it might be part of the blame.
It is hard for players to change their system in light of players being moved around. Toews and Kane were getting used to a dynamic that was drastically changed last night. I though Morin might have better served on the 3rd line in Bickell's spot. Speaking of Bickell, you might have mixed feelings about his charge to fight after a high hit (Yes, Calagary was getting away with some high hits), but no matter how you look at it, the first goal against was the result.
4th line productivity was another reason for the complete win. This is the highlight of putting a Stalberg who has gotten some more NHL game-time experience with a feisty Mayers and smart Brunette. I thought Q could have rolled this line a few more times than he did. Mayers laid out a couple of huge hits and the game was starting to get out of hand. They were producing, which is great to see, but Q failed to use them more effectively late, when it seemed they were needed the most.
The last piece in the complete win is strong goaltending. Emery has it right now and it was on display last night. He did not get the goals against I am sure he was looking for, but a win nonetheless. His rebound control is simply outstanding, a huge factor when given the Hawks shortcomings on D. He continues to stay hot, and it has me wondering when we might see Crow again. I sort of thought last night was the game to do it in, if it was going to happen before the 4-day break. Well, I guess we shouldn't be surprised with the way things are going in that area. Maybe just another year where the starting position ends up with the back-up.
Things that were not additions to the complete game: The PK. The penalty kill gave up both Calgary goals. In fact, I did not feel that great about the power-play either. Sure, the Hawks notched a PP goal, but they had a few looks, including a 5-on-3. The 5-on-3 was cut short however, on a bad call by the officials who kind of sucked all night if you ask me. Also, the Hawks gave up more shots in the 3rd than they had in both prior periods combined. Not a great stat indeed. It gives more concern to the Hawks play when they decide to sit back on a lead. They need to get wise to the necessity of staying on their game and playing the game that gets them wins throughout the full 60. Do not go into defensive mode with 3rd period leads. When trailing into the 3rd, they rock this period. The reaction should be obvious.
Big win, props to Hossa and Hjalmer for great games, and I forgot to mention Kaner's pp-goal too. The core is performing wonderfully these days, Hossa, Toews, Sharp and Kaner are all on track for big point production by season's end. This Hawks recent stint of winning games has boosted them up to the top of the league in points, and also in the power-rankings. Now ranking 2nd on that list, only below a Boston team that has a +47 goal differential (holy crap!). This might seem out of the norm, but while we are giving props to great play, How about that Kris Verstud? Huh, 16 goals and a game-winner last night. Can someone please tell me what the hell is happening in Florida?