This game, in my opinion, started with the Jackets coming out strong and for the most part, outworking the Hawks. They were skating, they were hitting and I was thinking it was just a matter of time before they would probably get one in. Then, out of nowhere, Bollig AGAIN drops the gloves after seemingly no provocation with Jared Boll and did a pretty solid job of at least making it look good if he didn't really do any major damage. Less then two minutes later, the Hawks got their first goal and the first of four wheels came flying off for Columbus. It was mentioned in between periods by the radio crew that going into last nights game, the Hawks had been 7-1-1 since Oduya had arrived. However, they went on, Bollig was in the lineup for that period as well. Not going to make a lot out of that up here, but it's interesting.
Anyway, after that bout, Shaw notched number ten by continuing to do what one of several things that he does very well, he went to the net and got himself into a position to pick up the loose change from a Bickell wrister. That was the first ugly goal. The next one came just about two minutes later when Sharp found himself off to Mason's right and nearly on the goal line. I don't know if he saw space between Mason and the net or not, but he put it up high and it banked in off Mason. Just about two minutes after that, Seabrook put a really soft shot on net from the blueline that bounced in and it was all over. I don't want to go all mouthbreather here and proclaim the virtues of having an "enforcer", but, I couldn't help but notice that the Jackets slowed just a little bit after that bout and the Hawks seemed to have just a little more jump and were starting to create better offensive pressure and keep the puck in the offensive zone. If Shaw doesn't score that first ugly goal, maybe it's a different game. Be that as it may, if Bollig dropped the gloves because he saw his team getting outworked, that was a very shrewd move.
In the second, I thought the Hawks were pretty sloppy actually, but so were the Jackets. Each team had some "clangers" (Stals TWO on the night) and I kinda thought the Hawks were lucky to not get scored on. Then, with just about a minute to go, Leddy got drilled and thrown into the boards. Some will likely claim he brought it on himself by turning his back and I have mixed feelings about that. He did put himself into a vulnerably position,but Dorsett blasted him square in the numbers. I've seen other players be able to pull up and still make the check. Given how the Hawks responded, especially with Mayers being the first to arrive, I'm not sure they were really outraged by it. To top it off, at least one Jacket was chirping at Leddy afterward, probably for turning his back. Anyway, the Hawks started the third on the power play and with Sharp serving as a forward instead of point man (imagine that!), he got himself into position at the top of the slot and one timed a beauty shot in. Two minutes later the Jackets took another penalty and the Hawks again scored on the power play. As the third started to wear down, Nash ruined the shutout, but it was pretty clear the what the outcome of the game was going to be.
A pet theory of mine coming into this season has been that the Hawks have huge skill up top followed by a sharp drop off on lines three and four. Moreover, I have felt like the Hawks are essentially two different teams sharing the same bench. The skill guys do skill things, the bottom guys do what they do, while guys like Stals, Bickell, Shaw, Frolik, etc, bounce up and down the lines looking for a place to fit in. I don't want to see any top player out of the lineup, but I find it interesting that when guys like Sharp or Toews are out for an extended period, we start to see this team actually play a simpler and harder working game. The results speak for themselves. I don't think the Hawks need an "enforcer" as much as they need balance. Shaw is not a dominant offensive threat. However, when there is one less skill guy up top, he (like Carcillo?) seems to be able to find a niche for himself by being willing to get dirty. We've complained about lack of role players and course about what an idiot Q is and what a failure SB has been at bringing in washed up players and even I have some level of agreement in those areas. Still, when the Hawks have lost a skill guy this year, it seems like the Hawks have played some of their best hockey.
Anyway, tonight should be an interesting test to see if there is really some fire behind the smoke of the last ten games. The Nucks are rested and have every reason to show up and try to put the Hawks in their place.