Hawks 4, Selanne 1

Yep. You knew he was going to score his always freaking annoying goal and this one came when Razor was less then 2 minutes away from a shut out. With the clock winding down, the Ducks displayed a surprising amount of effort to hem the Hawks in their own zone. Though Toews got slashed pretty heartily, the play carried and the Hawks finally turned it over for the last time and Anaheim played Duck, Duck, Selanne. Meh. Too bad for Razor that on a "pad the stats" night, he was left out. At least he had a good game.

As for the Hawks, no disrespect intended to the Ducks, but they flat out did not have the talent to contain the Hawks. Though I was not really impressed overall by the Hawks, I did see things I want to see. First and foremost, they got secondary scoring on a goal from Mayers, that was assisted by Bruno and everyone's favorite forward, John Scott. After that, the Hawks best players were better then the Duck's best players and they got strikes from Hossa, Bolland and Sharp. Whether it's a pretty or ugly win, when these things happen the Hawks are going to win games. All things considered, this was a game the Hawks should win and they did win basically 4-0. They scored a PP goal and helped themselves climb a little further out of the hole they dug for themselves on the PK early season. Best of all, they won in regulation and did not create another three point game.

Though the Hawks called Smith back up from Rockford, he did not play. In a move that is sure to annoy a lot of people, John Scott skated at forward and as mentioned above, managed to accidentally net himself an assist. Say what we will about Scott, he played his role. Though his decision to fight in the offensive zone while up two goals may not have been very bright, his fight, I believe, was one thing that helped keep Anaheim douchebaggery to a tolerable level. Unlike early season, the Hawks did not fold when faced with physicality. Mayers also had a bout late in the contest after someone took a run at the physically threatening Marcus Kruger. I'm seeing these guys start to stand up for each other and it is long, long, overdue. With Carcillo out with an upper body injury, I honestly think it did make sense to start Scott and he and Mayers both did exactly what they are supposed to do.

That Duncan Keith "only" had 24 minutes of ice time should tell you a lot about the nature of this game. With the game basically out of reach after two goals, Q used the entirety of his bench and really balanced out the ice time. Bickell, again, did not make me notice him. He made some hits but took himself way out of position when he did so and was never really threatening in my opinion. Scott at forward didn't look at that good to me and I think he was lucky to get away with some of the cross checks he threw, especially on Mayers goal. Still, a win is a win and as long as we keep perspective and don't start planning parade routes, there are a couple of things to celebrate here.

Like I said, this was a stat padding night. With the net three goal win, the Hawks goal differential took another positive step forward to +11, and the only team to have scored more goals then them is the Flyers. The PK is still less then 80% while the PP stands at 19.8%, both have improved, but both have a ways to go to be instrumental in winning games. When the team was up, Q used all of his bench and gave his stars a little rest. Once again, Razor looked good out there and seems to be able to get in front of longer range shots.

The Wings and Blues each have two games in hand on the Hawks, but the Hawks currently have a five point lead. In the next week, the Hawks will play the Flames, the Pens and the Habs and after that they play the Jackets, Kings and Wings. The Pens and Wings games are toss ups, but arguably, the other four teams are teams the Hawks should beat and they need to take advantage of the schedule they have. To the comments from the pre game thread about trades, I tend to agree with everyone that there won't be any big trades. However, if some team does pull the trigger on something bigger, I think it very well could start to lay the groundwork for smaller trades to start happening. The Hawks right now, IMO, do not have a position of strength of trade from. I can't see any team out there wanting to help a team that is near the top of its conference. At the least, I can't see any team offering us what we really want, which is either a bigger winger who will succeed where Bickell fails, or a true, solid 5-6 D guy who can both bring grit and shore up that bottom pair. I think SB keeps his powder dry for awhile.

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  • Big difference playing with the lead for a change. Roll four lines and all six D and everybody moving their feet and contributions from the bottom half of the roster. That's the way it should be.

    I think you're right, Vegas, the presence of Scott—especially after his fight with Brookbank—kept the Ducks physical play at bay. Scott showed why he's still around. He's versatile and can chip in minutes periodically.

    Still, too many poor D zone exits caused a lot of unnecessary fire drills and the Ducks missed many scoring chances by shooting wide. Doesn't appear as though the coaching change has worked for them.

    Nonetheless, more efforts like that and I may be able to relent and say that this team actually does have a team identity and a solid work ethic.

  • Overall, it was a pretty decent game. The Hawks did pretty much what we expected them to do against the Ducks. But, we had numerous defensive lapses, which led to several uncontested shots. Luckily for us, the Ducks could not get the shots on goal. Yet, they still outshot us.

    I disagree with Vegas about Bickell. I thought he played one of his best games of the year (which may not be saying much). I thought his forechecking was good, and he had a couple big hits. That is about all you can expect out of Bickell. The players on the third line had probably one of their best games of the year, and Q rewarded them with some power play time in the 3rd period.

    Scott had a great game. I agree that the fight with Brookbank was good for the team. Somebody finally agreed to drop the gloves with him, and now Brookbank knows why people don't drop em. Not even Parros would drop them later in the game.

    I was impressed by several players last night. Leddy's rush that led to Bolland's goal was hopefully a sign of more aggressiveness in the offensive zone coming from him. I thought Kaner's forechecking tonight was great. It's nice to see him get up there. Sharp had 6 shots on goal. Seabrook did a good job keeping people from the crease and ended up with 3 shots on goal.

    Overall, it was a good win. But, it was expected. We still had too many defensive lapses, and got outshot by them. Anaheim came into the game last in the league in shots on goal, so to get outshot by them is not too good. They had numerous other open chances, but could not put it on net.

  • In reply to BigJack:

    It probably was one of Bickell's better games. I liked a couple of hits he threw, but I also thought his hitting took him out of the forecheck. He's in a tough spot in that there is a certain expectation on him. Frolik does nice things on the forecheck and backcheck, but he underperforms scoring wise. Bickell can and has been more effective even when he's not destroying people. Comparatively, Bickell is probably drawing more scrutiny then others and I think a lot of people have given up on him being a solid piece of this team.

    I thought Bickell had a really good start to this year and then just trended down. Last night wasn't a bad game for him, but I think he's still below where he started the season. Shots on goal are not an end all stat, but for a team like Anaheim, the Hawks should have been able to both put up more SOG while limiting what the Ducks put on net. Some of this, IMO, is on all the forwards, not just Bickell.

  • Bickell must have had a decent game because we all actually noticed him. I don't recall Pat Foley even saying his name in the past few games. Frolik is an enigma - he shows all the speed and skills, but no results. I don't mind John Scott. Yeah, he sucks at hockey, but he allows the others to concentrate on their games. FF is right - it's getting to the point where no one wants to drop the gloves against Chicago because of his presence. I liked seeing him suited up last night against a historically testy team.

    Great effort last night. Things are finally looking like they're starting to gel. The alarming thing for me is to look at the stat sheet for this team. As mentioned before, the core is really bearing the load. Then you have a number of guys: Bickell / Brunette / Bolland / Frolik... that have surprisingly poor +/- stats. Looking at a few of the other top teams in the league... Boston, Philly, Minnesota and their +/- stats are not even close. For example, the Bruins only have 4 players who are in the minus, and their combined total is -7 The Hawks have 11 players in the minus, and their combined total is -54!

    Well, I guess the imortant thing is they're finding ways to win. It was nice to see a relatively easy W last night. Could have been even easeir had the ref not taken back Bolland's first goal. What was the deal with that?

    Not many comments about Emery today?

  • In reply to iplagitr:

    Gitr, I'll say this about Emery. He gets the job done, however unspectacular, he's getting a piece of the puck. His rebound control seems a lot better than Crawford's at the moment and no doubt he's starting until he has a bad game.

    I'm a big believer in goal differential, and yes, the 'hawks have been on the low end of a few blow-outs, but the better teams will be on the higher end of that ledger, which to me shows good play at both ends. You can take a look at the conference standing and pretty much predict who's going to make the playoffs looking at that stat. For a team that is 12 games above .500 a +11 differential shows how tight most of their wins have been.

    The third and fourth line +- is a reflection of how poorly they have been playing, it could also be a commentary on Q's relentless line juggling with these players and a lack of consistency being the result.

    We all know that the team is being carried by 88, 19, 81 and 10 and that will not be the case all of the time. We need more of what we saw last night in terms of contribution to the overall game. When they do they get more ice and everyone's job must seem a whole lot easier.

  • Vegas, ill agree with what you said about Bickell and how he hasn't worked up to what hes seemed to be... but i will say hes improved on net presence and clearing traffic in the D' zone. Ray has defiantly been on his A game but id doubt he'll last all that long, especially with tough schedule coming up.

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