That was pretty much the best start you could have hoped for from the Hawks, and against the defending champions no less. Let's try to not be overly analytical about this one, since it was obvious true NHL hockey will take a little longer to get back to true form. Still, the Hawks won in a way we that should bring our hopes up a tad. They played smart, the defense wasn't too bad, neither was Crawford, and the guys you wanted to see score, put the puck in the net.
Starting with an early 5 on 3 doesn't hurt matters, but we all know what kind of a test that was for our group of guys. Kaner made a few rusty or over-anxious mistakes, and then drove a bullet by a sliding Quick for the first of many for the Hawks today, and a great start to the power-play. The top guns were the difference for sure, and I know I am not the only one getting a little excited about Hossa's point production already.
Hossa ended with 3 points, and 2 goals. He wasn't just putting pucks in the net, he was also dominating the ice in the ways that we know he can. A great return from where we last saw him, leaving the ice on a stretcher. Kane got on the board quick, Hossa racked up some points, and Captain Marvelous was right there behind them, especially when he followed a great Kaner rush to pick up the garbage and stuff his first on the year. Huge props to Kane on that drive, and he almost had the goal himself.
Frolik also got on the board with a wickedly brutal and quick shot off of a Kruger pass which is just what the doctor ordered for him. His months playing in Europe hopefully served him some good, because Fro deserves more than a 4th line appearance.
The lines were weird at best for our trained eyes of ever evolving combinations, and you get the feeling we shall see the rotations begin soon, but again, not too shabby of a performance across the board. That 3rd line of Shaw, Bickell, and Stalberg is surely going to see some changes soon. It is just too weird of a line, even with Shaw going 50 percent at the dot which is worthy of a shout, btw. Stalberg never seemed to find his legs in this one, though he didn't really need them.
The defense might have been the greatest sight to my eyes, as Leddy was on the 3rd pairing where he belongs, Keith and Seabrook were solid, and so were Oduya and Hjalmer. I pray that this is a sign of even better things to come. Oduya was maybe the most impressive from my perspective, playing with an intensity you like to see, and Hjalmer also seemed a little more like the Hammer we used to love. Not jumping to conclusions is best for now, but I am more optimistic than I was 5 hours ago.
And last but not least, Crawford looked like he wanted to stay home in his net where he belongs, made a couple of decent saves, and took 2 points with Jonathan Quick at the other end of the ice. Keep in mind that the shots were low, at just over 20 a piece, and rust was an obvious factor to the quality of shots. Either way, Crow has to happy with this start, and so does coach Q, especially with a PP goal to start it off.
I have something saved up to say about Q and his future, but let's not spoil the parade. The Hawks grabbed an important 2 points against a team I was not expecting it from. There were much more positives to take away from this one, such as timely goals, poised defense, and a pleasant management of ice-time (Toews only recorded 18 minutes, and the 2nd defensive pairing wasn't too far from the minutes of the 1st pairing), sure it is easier with a 5-2 win, but we are talking about Q here.
- I don't say this much, so cherish it; Kruger had a strong game. Not only did he factor in Frolik's goal, picking up a helper, but he did the dirty things right and was physical enough against a physical team. Keep in mind, he was where he belonged, on the 4th line with a guy who doesn't in Frolik.
- Leddy wasn't bad today, but he wasn't great either. He was on the ice for both goals against and they both were the result of weak defensive coverage. I thought Brookbank looked decent, had a couple of nice plays, and looks like a great #6 D-man. If Rozsival gets the nod tomorrow, it might mean no appearance from Leddy.
- Especially since Hjalmarsson looked so strong. He and Oduya have a lot of similarities to their game, which would persuade me to separate them. However, they showed a comfort together which is worth further examination.
- Carcillo will miss more than a few games it seems, to a lower body injury. This should equate to Saad getting the nod, something I was a little surprised not to see today. He would fit very well into Carcillo's spot on the top line.
- Again, don't get too excited. This was a far from normal game, and the Kings were without Kopitar. Plus, Quick just had a small surgery that might have had an impact on his play, even though the Hawks had some nice looks.
To Phoenix we go.