Unconventional Hockey Serves the Blackhawks Well in Win against the Coyotes.

Unconventional Hockey Serves the Blackhawks Well in Win against the Coyotes.

In 2 days the Chicago Blackhawks have posted 11 goals against 2 elite goaltenders in the NHL. As was the case with the win in LA, the 6-4 win against the Phoenix Coyotes is exciting, starts to get our hopes up, shows a lot of promise for this current roster, and it is still too early to make any big picture assumptions.

What can we say went well for the Hawks last night? Quite a bit actually. The only glaring negative, and this goes for both clubs, was goaltending. Ray Emery needs to be better, allowing a few questionable goals, but lucky for us, Smith was even worse. Phoenix produced an awful lot of giveaways, which is not their style, and with Smith giving up 6, a few questionable on his part, this was not a conventional game in Phoenix.

I am very impressed with certain aspects of the Hawks game. From their positioning, which was pretty strong through most of the 60, to their play in the neutral zone (an area of strength or demise in last year's play), how well the Hawks were getting pucks to the net (a problem last year), to Kane's overall play, and Hossa's feel for the back of the net lately, to the power-play goals scored in 2 games, the penalty kill's success, their ability to take advantage of the open ice they have gotten, the defensive core's performance, and all the little things that go into building a successful run.

It would honestly take me too long to go over all of the good things I saw last night. So let's try and bullet them, because we all know what the outcome of this game was.

Bullets:

  • Patrick Kane is playing like a man on a mission. Dare I say, he looks like he wants it, and has been reminded that he loves to play the game of hockey, and on top of that, he is darn good at it. Not only his goal and assists racked up so far through 2 games, Kane is doing it all, and boy is it fun to watch.
  • Hjalmarsson is playing some exceptional hockey folks. If you were taking any notes, his name would have come up quite a bit for a plethora of individual efforts. From simply destroying Sullivan with a very clean and powerful hit, to saving Emery's ass on a few occasions, to a well positioned body and active stick, Hjalmer was the best defensive force on the ice last night.
  • Kruger and Frolik coupled to form a very effective 4th line through the 1st half of play, not to mention their efforts on the PK. Kruger is making me eat my words a little, and I am glad to do it. I can't see Fro staying on the 4th line, but while he is there, the depth of Q's options are abundant.
  • The Hawks PK is more effective when they are being aggressive on it.
  • Carcillo's injury has made it possible to see Saad in his spot, and I have to say, he deserves it more. Saad had a great 1st game. His aggressiveness, hunger for the puck, and speed make him a great fit for that 1st line. If he can sustain it, he should have a permanent home there.
  • Speaking of sustaining play, what the hell is Shaw's story? The man made a pretty big hit on Doan early on, proving once again that he is bigger than he looks. Shaw is a force of nature, the smallest guy on the ice, he plays like a big boy, and this helped aid the 3rd line in rebounding from a less than impressive performance the day before.
  • Stalberg had that jump in his step we have all to come to love (putting himself in the right places, and winning races to pucks), and this helped the 3rd line become effective. I still have my doubts about this line's combination, but Stalberg and Shaw both proved their worth with some great individual and team efforts. Kaner had a big roll in that first goal to Bolland, but less mentioned was Stalberg's effectiveness in front of the net on that play. He caused just enough havoc to confuse the defense and Smith for Bolland to slip in his first on the night.
  • Leddy also rebounded from a rough first game, playing a tight and strong defensive roll. If the play we have seen from the defensive end of the roster continues on their resent course, we could be looking at one of the best defensive rosters in the league, and goaltending might not be as big of a factor as everyone fears. This is of course, a big if.
  • Worth noting, Keith was a bit rough around the edges last night, and from first looks, Brookbank had a better performance than Rozsival in their respective games.
  • Bolland and Sharp were invisible in game 1. They were extremely noticeable in game 2. It looks as though this Bolland experiment might work, as all 3 players on that 2nd line were great at finding and taking advantage of the open ice against a team that is notorious for not providing. And they put it on the board.
  • The Hawks have goals from their top 5 guys in just 2 games. Adding goals from Stalberg and Frolik to that list makes for some good arguments to start thinking positive about this season, and the ones following.

Q has a lot of options right now, and it would seem his team has decided to play some puck for him. Again, it is far too early to tell. I would give it a week of play before making any predictions, but the start is promising. What has happened for the team to respond so well? Maybe it is the time off, the time away from the coaches, motivation from Captain Marvel, or more pressure from SB, either way, the start is something that Q has to be happy with. Let's hope he can keep it together.

I hate to say it, but I am excited to watch again.

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  • Very nice post HH, especially the bullet points. As you mention, it is way too early to make many judgements about this team. That said, it seems fair to say that Q does indeed have options. What he has lost experience wise in using worn out rental players, he has gained in fearlessness and willingness to sacrifice with the younger players. Eventually, Shaw and Kruger both will modify their game or be concussed badly. For the moment though, they are both bringing something desperately needed on this team.

    I don't want to make any crazy predictions about this team, but I will start a storyline right here and see where it goes. I think that the better this team does, the more Q's job will be at risk. It is so early, and plenty of guys could flame out, but I feel like I see several key things. From the top, the elite players are looking healthy and motivated AND willing to play to the strengths and weaknesses of line mates. The younger players are aggressive and hungry and seem willing to play whatever role will keep them on the team, niche players perhaps. The D seems much better balanced and for now, Q is balancing all of their time much much better. In short, Q DOES have options, which means Bowman can say to himself and others, "I did my job, he's got a real team to work with".

    As an aside, one guy that I think can make a huge impact on this team this year is, don't laugh, Bickell. This is a contract year for Bickell and in a shortened season, his window of opportunity to convince the NHL he deserves to stay over new faces is closing quickly. Bollig does not have Bickell's skill, but he is willing, it seems to do what Bickell has not and sadly, the same can be said for Kruger and Shaw who are nowhere near Bickells size. There is no doubt this team has missed the size of Byfuglien and I am looking square at Bickell as being the guy to take that spot. Final word, I continue to believe that the Coyotes and their man child goalie are just a bunch of whining bitches. They work harder them most teams and the excel at what they do. But they also carry themselves with an attitude that they are better then everyone else and they cry like fucking babies when they start to get spanked. LA showed the entire league what that team is about last year.

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