Balance, and concentration Danielson: Blackhawks 3, Panthers 1. Prelude to a bigger game.

Balance, and concentration Danielson: Blackhawks 3, Panthers 1. Prelude to a bigger game.

Now that was some well balanced puck. In what can only be described as an all around effort, and well maintained game, the Chicago Blackhhawks cruised into a 3-1 win over the Florida Pantherhawks on a stormy winter night. Im sure most everyone was wishing this game was played in Florida, where the weather would not have held the start time back, but it is what it is. Could we pass off some of the Panthers play to the trip in and consequent later start than anticipated, maybe. But, the routine for all the players was thrown off a tad, including the Hawks. No, I am more concerned with tonights effort against a rallying Nashville team after that later start in the U.C.

The Hawks jumped out to an early first period lead, which culminated in a very late period goal by Duncan Keith, and a power-play goal at that. A simple play to the point, with the screen in front and Keith drove the puck home untouched on its way in. This goal was a gleaming example of how simple, and balanced hockey can pay off. Late period and early period goals can have large impacts on game outcomes, and this one seemed to end the night for the Panthers who came in with some struggles in their recent past.

But, the return of a few ex-Hawks to Chicago served as maybe enough juice to make you worry about a Panther come-back which never really ended up surfacing. In fact, due to the later start there was a decent amount of talk about Brian Campbell rolling into this game, and of the damage he could do. I honestly forgot he was even out there sometimes, and his efforts to move the puck were often crashed in on by the Hawks who were unwilling to give the fancy footed defenseman any space. Of the ex-Hawks, Versteeg was the only one making any kind of a campaign to make something happen, but again that campaign was ended abruptly by the Hawks.

In period 2, the Hawks would push that lead up to 3-0 when Patrick Kane finally decided to shoot the puck, and on net (not aiming for the top corners and missing the net entirely) when he had the option to pass. I think Theodore was totally expecting the pass and wasn't even able to move that much before the puck was between his 5-hole. Does this mean the end to the scoring slump Kane has put together over the past 20 or so games? In my opinion it takes 2 within a game of each other to break the curse, and my sources say that just might happen as Kane has been known to score some goals against the Preds. Besides that goal, we saw a little too much of the same from Kaner. Such as, holding on too long, not displaying a great sense of urgency, and making that extra move when it was unnecessary. I can be hard on Kane sometimes, but I do believe he possesses an unparalleled talent with the puck and have also stood by him during other questionable times in his short career. If he wants to see more production, he has to simplify his game a bit, pure and simple. This analysis takes nothing away from the great work he creates in opposing zones.

  • The Panthers made the game look slightly interesting in the early seconds of the 3rd period. Like I said, early and late period goals can be huge, but in this case it amounted to nothing. With all the talk around number 51, it seemed that people forgot that number 52 for the Panthers is the leading goal scorer among defensemen in the league.
  • It didn't end up mattering too much as the Hawks gave what might be their best defensive effort as a team in a very long time. The improvements keep coming in this area. Huh, shocker that we haven't seen Scott in a while. This new found confidence on the D is truly something to celebrate, but I can't help feeling frustrated that it seems to be the result of finally doing simple things that we have been asking of the coaching all season. Why did it take so long to listen to reason?
  • Among those simple things we have been asking for here at PowWow, is balanced ice-time and the rolling of 4 lines. Q even made mention of its importance in the pre-game interview. If I could have, I would have punched him right in the face. Yeah, no shit Sherlock, so what took you so damn long? Injuries to 2 top line wingers? This is seriously a duh moment for this administration. And yes, this is playing a dramatically huge role in what we are recently seeing from the Hawks of late. Brunette even got into the scoring last night, but that goal was incorrectly waived off as I continue to have doubts that this Toronto reply system even exists.
  • Yes, the ice-time that each individual player logs from game to game can have large impacts in those games, and even larger on the season as a whole. While this has increasingly improved over the last few weeks, it is also an area of concern with regards to one player last night. Keith was on his game, no question about it, and his balanced minutes have helped him get there. But, he logged just under 30 minutes last night and I have to question that single mistake by Q. If the Hawks had no games following the next night, it would be meaningless, but they do, and it is against the Preds who are shooting up the standings as if only to make things in the Central Division even more interesting. Tonight's game is the more important win of the 2, and Keith skated too much last night. Just a critique on an otherwise fairly perfect game.
  • Speaking of Keith, his goal was in fact another power-play goal as the Hawks look to clean up all their messes before the Allstar break. Can't talk enough to the simplicity of how the Hawks are generating these recent PP goals, but I will let out my breath when I see it continue into the next few months. If Kane really does regain his mojo, it just might be that killer punch that opens the flood-gates on the man-advantage.
  • Killer Instinct: Okay, here is maybe my only other negative critique on last night's game besides the Keith ice-time thing. The Hawks have looked pretty balanced lately, and last night was no different, but I did lack the sense of an emotional attachment from the Hawks. There didn't seem to be a killer instinct to really take advantage of the game and put the game completely out of the reach of the Panthers. This could have something to do with today's contest which holds more value to the Hawks, but a critique it still is. And again, the defense was sound enough to hold the lead without too much worry which is a good sign in the larger scheme of things.
  • Emery is pretty darn solid looking in net. His consistent play has me calling for his continued starts. It might be slight, but he has the upper-hand on Crawford and the coaching staff should react accordingly.
  • Last point before moving on. The 1st line of Kane, Toews, and Stalberg is a beast of a line and I want to send a message to Q that if it ever gets changed that I will hunt him down and punch him right in the stache. This line is simply becoming the hardest line to play against in the league. Every cog in this machinery of a line is finding its perfect function and executing without hesitation. Great passing, quick movement, and the defensive sense to get the puck out of their own zone as soon as the puck enters it is just the start of the poetry this line is weaving and will continue to get better at weaving. 2 brilliant looking goals were scored last night by this dynamic trio, as Toews continues to make his campaign for the MVP of the season. His breakaway goal was beautiful, and the pass from Kane just as awesome, which was started by a great effort from Stalberg. Machine I say!

Good game, the much needed 2 points were achieved and now we must quickly get over that giddiness as we look to the game ready to start in just a few hours.
Since late December, the Predators have allowed only 20 goals in a 9-2-0 run. Rinne is really freaking good lately, which is just about as scary as anything, and the offense is even producing more than 3 goals a game. If not anything else, this serves as proof once again to how tough this Central Division really is. A Nashville win could make things very, very interesting in the Central, as if it already isn't enough, and the Hawks play them twice in a row before the break. These are huge points with large implications. Do we go into the break on top, or with a sudden drop to the lower half? It is seriously go-time for the Hawks. Detroit plays Columbus tonight, and the Blues play the Sabres, which makes matters even worse. This is going to be a photo finish down to the end, and it involves 4 teams right now.

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  • HH, it was a typical non-conference game … mostly boring because there was no intensity/rivalry and 90% of the game was played between the blue lines. Consider it a tune-up for the Preds back to back.

    I still think the 'hawks need to be better on the dump ins and puck retrieval. They're so stubborn and while I understand that they want to dictate the play adjustments need to be made against the better "system" teams.

    You're right though, the last 30 odd games are going to be playoff-like affairs as the Blues, Wings and Preds don't look to be going anywhere soon. It is going to be critical to win the division outright in order to avoid one of these teams in the first round.

    Right now, 'hawks are trailing in the ROWs column. Too many shootout wins. Enough with the three-pointers already.

  • Another point that needs to be addressed. #2 played 29 plus minutes last night and the last time I checked, he was number three in the league with over 26 TTOI. That comrades, IS the Achilles Heel of the Hawks..

    BW

  • In reply to beaverwarrior:

    I agree, and I did mention it in the post. It adds insult to injury, because they didn't even need him out there that much. The game was already in their hands.

  • I hate to be critical, but I was not very happy with the win last night. Coming into this game, the Panthers were a -12 and for a lot of the game, I thought they did a very good job of keeping the Hawks to the outside, especially the top line. The goals by Kane and Toews were the result, in my opinion, of the Panthers pushing the forecheck just a little too hard. One thing this Hawks team has always been good at is catching teams when they push the forecheck down too low. This isn't to say the Hawks didn't get chances and didn't get some good traffic in the crease, but I don't remember that kind of pressure coming from the top line.

    If you let Kane and Toews cycle long enough, they will score. But again, for a team that came into this contest with a -12 differential, I thought they held their own against one of the most offensively explosive teams in the league. And to BW's point, I think it's unacceptable that Keith plays 29 minutes the night before the Hawks will face one of the biggest pain in the ass teams in the league when it comes to forechecking. We can chuckle about the lack of success of former Hawks last night and I'll admit it's nice to have Campbell's contract gone. But, as evidenced by Keith playing 29 minutes last night, the departure of Campbell left a hole that is still not filled.

    The growth of Leddy has been incredible. He is a good defensemen and is only going to get better. Still, he cannot absorb 25 minutes a night. It's good he was held to 18 last night, but then Keith eats 29. Q is rolling more lines which is great, but I think he still needs at least one more D guy who isn't 40 years old. I have a bad feeling the Hawks are going to split the next two games with the home team being the winner in each contest.

  • In reply to VegasHawksFan:

    Don't necessarily agree about Keith. His VO2 Max is over the top and he can handle the minutes. We all know Q is big on matchups and Keith gets ice against the top lines (minute-wise) in the league, not to mention the PP ice he gets, and the PK time he sometimes gets. If we had a better PP and PK player on D then his minutes would be more in the norm for a player of his caliber. Solving that would solve the minutes problem.

    Not so much the minutes but what kind of minutes. If he's getting pasted all night by a strong forecheck, well, that exacts its toll more than standing around the blueline on th PP and shooting the puck into a defenders shin pads. Come to think of it, that can take its toll too as he is constantly having to chase the odd man breaks he gives up as a result.

    Seriously, give Kieth 26-28, Leddy and Hammer 16-20 and the 3rd pairing 14-16 and it's all about where it should be based on the players they have.

  • In reply to fourfeather:

    Keith's ability to recover is higher then other mortals. Still, when he plays those kind of minutes, he starts to lose sharpness. I don't think he played a very good game tonight, not that he was alone in that, and I think last night's game had something to do with it. If he has to play that much to win a game, it says to me our defense isn't good enough as is. The closer to 25 a night Keith plays, the better he plays IMO.

    The PP and the PK though do need work. I do agree that would take some workload off of him.

  • In reply to VegasHawksFan:

    "it says to me our defense isn't good enough as is."

    We're saying the same thing then, Vegas. See my last sentence above. My thinly veiled attempt to say the same thing.

  • In reply to fourfeather:

    … neither is our goaltending

  • In reply to fourfeather:

    I thought CC's falling flat on his face in the middle of crease after a fairly ordinary fake by Kostitsyn was even worse than the 100 foot blunder from the red-line.

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