On a large picture perspective, the Hawks played more responsible with the puck and without it, were not caught standing still as much, and looked a bit more cohesive as a unit early. Plus, they scored the first, and even second goal. Not without their issues, the Hawks gave up a few turnovers, but you have to be kinda happy with the start. Things sort of changed as the game wore on, but we still saw a more careful team.
The Hawks "hot" power-play (I really have a hard time writing that) takes them into a rarely seen early lead. It doesn't matter how ugly Hossa's 400th was, it went in nonetheless. In fact, tonight was the Hossa and Sharp show if that adds any merit to the goal in the first place. Worth mention on the play was Kaner's assist. Leading the league in that category, Kane has had 8 points in the last 4 games, something that is easy to forget.
A large factor in this game was the Islander's focus on the Toews line. They threw everything they had at it, and since they lack star-power, it left the 2nd line to do the damage. This is the essence of where the Hawks success should be. If they can get the 3rd line clicking again, and even the 4th adding in, then the Hawks become extremely dangerous no matter how bad everything else is.
The focus on Toews most definitely had an impact on his play. Not the most explosive we have seen him all season.
In the 2nd, the Islanders came out hard, but Sharp's shot was harder. He made it 2-0 with a freaking blast. One-timers are a deadly breed (something brought up on this blog often), especially off of his tape. The play was started by a Hjalmer pass up the ice, after some nice defensive play, and was the result of a perfect pass by Hossa. Something I also liked about this game was the change in the Hawks forward movement. Not every player went in the same direction. In this play, Kruger goes to the net, and Sharp stops high, which leaves options and opens up the offense. A huge element and something their game has been missing.
At this point the game became pretty boring, until a 5-on-3 against the Hawks for a full 2 minutes happened. A terrible, terrible, terrible call against Kaner was followed by a weak call (given the situation) on Bolland and the officials put New York back in the game. The Hawks killed the penalty wonderfully, thanks in part to the periods end, but the play changed after that.
I am officially not a fan of the Hawks sitting back and playing D. When they play too safe, nothing happens and teams are allowed to wait for a Hawks mistake, which is sure to come at some point. Lacking any pressure, the Islanders get a body in front, a screen and a goal. The Hawks were essentially caught swarming again. Everyone was in the same area of the zone, and no one was moving bodies in front. In fact, this is how both goals were scored. From the point and with a body in front. The lead is officially blown.
Lets hit up some points:
- Looking at the defense, I like Lepisto over O'Donnell and hope we see a few more games with him. He is much more offensively savvy, aggressive along the boards, quick, and made some smart plays. An especially smart one involved a turnover by the offense in their own zone that left Montador on a rush towards the net. Seeing that Montador was getting beat, Lepisto still stayed home and took away the pass. It seems simple, but the Hawks have been failing to do just that this year.
- On the flip side and on a similar play, Hjalmer made a great play on Tavares after he beat Leddy. Quick, and without hesitation, Hjalmer attacked the Tavares rush and most likely saved a goal. Unfortunately, Leddy turned it over shortly later for the first goal by New York. Hjalmer looked good all game again, had a big hit early, and started the 2nd goal off with a nice pass.
- Leddy had a rough game.
- I thought the Hawks played smart for half of the game and looked shaky for the other half. Thankfully, Sharp was feeling lucky tonight. Another win by the "core" players.
- I was falling asleep during the middle parts of the 3rd.
- Im sorry, I don't see why Carcillo got a call against him late in the game. Sure, he jabbed the guy a bit, but how many times have you seen the Hawks get wacked much harder without any offense. This is a call against his name and nothing else, but still a bad penalty to take.
- Overall, weak calls against the Hawks on 3 occasions, but I am not complaining. This game was not won or lost by officiating.
- Good resulting PK though.
- Frolik saved a goal with 30 seconds left by back-checking his butt off.
Into overtime, and Sharp scored a huge goal. He continues to have the hot stick, notches his 15th goal and moves up in the goal leaders category. The play was the result of a rebound that was intelligently placed by Hossa. This is an anomaly in Hossa's game from my point of view. Both Sharp goals were the result of smart offensive plays by Hossa. How many times have you seen Hossa do what he did on the OT goal? He didn't force the pass or just shoot it on net. He held up the play, stalled and moved across the goaltender more and then placed a low shot towards the 5-hole, and used the screen. It was absolutely the smartest thing to do in that situation. It either sneaks behind Montoya or he gives up a rebound. Bam, game over. He didn't force the pass, and he didn't just throw it straight on net. He thought horizontally rather than vertically like he usually does.
So, lets say we finish with what everyone else was talking about. Goalie controversy. This is a phrase I am not ready to tackle just yet. I think Chicago has gotten too used to it. I also think that Crow will figure his game out. Lets get something straight, I have never thought of Crawford as an "outstanding" goaltender. He is not that overtly talented. His talents reside in his approach to the game which has been thrown off by the inconsistency of the Hawks and his first season as the starting guy. Unfortunately, he has been unable to find the groove that makes him stable.
On the flip side, Emery looks strong right now. The team also seems to be playing better in front of him, which is something that can't be overlooked. I sort of thought Emery should have started in the Yotes game before it even started, but that was not a stern conviction. If I am Q at this point, I think Emery gets the nod in Sunday's game, though it says nothing more than, "give Crow some more time to get calm, and stick with the hot goaltender against a top contending team."
Thats all I have for now, good night.