Hopefully you were watching the Black Hawks (as opposed to today's Blackhawks) get off to a 3-0 start. Were the Hawks on channel 44 back then? Given that I was five at the time, I have no idea. Had they not put that stat up on the screen tonight, I would have had no idea it has been that long since they had a start that good. The end of that season, according to wiki, did not turn out so well. So here's hoping history only repeats so much. Before I start, it's good to be back here again. It's also good to be able to listen to WGN after games out here in Vegas and be able to hear the cavalcade of people who make the regular guy on XRT sound like a speech coach. Thanks to anyone who read over the summer and continues to come here anyway. Stick tap to you as well Oneteam.
Anyhow, I will continue to tell myself to relax and take it one game at a time. Tonight's tilt was another great game to watch, but both teams are obviously not in top form. Though the Blues had a strong second period, I believe the final score make this game look closer then it was. I don't think the Hawks dominated the entire game by any stretch, but for the third game running, they won as a team with contributions up and down the line on offense and defense. That has been missing for quite awhile. On the first goal, Leddy made an awesome steal and flipped the puck up the boards where it bounced to Kane and turned into a three on none rush. Kane tallied that score. On the second goal, while on the power play, Keith was in the middle of the ice at the blue line and was able to take a one timer that managed to hit Seabrook's skate on the way by and get past Elliot. On the last goal, man crush of HH Victor Stalberg perfectly and stunningly shot the puck through the legs of the forward covering him and not only scored what eventually was the game winning goal, but also set up Edzo for a tip for all young defensemen out there. Wait, did I just say they scored on the power play? A power play that is currently run by Jamie Kompon, the alleged village idiot of power plays in LA? Not sure what to make of that considering that Kompon has replaced a coach everyone loved. One thing is for sure, the PP looks different.
As for the Blues, their first goal came on a horrible, horrible line change from the Hawks, the second such bad change of the night. According to Pat and Edzo, Leddy overplayed the rush by fading toward the wall and a player who was already covered. Though it wasn't actually Leddy's closest player who scored, the play went from a 3 on 2 in favor of the Blues to a 2 on 1 and McDonald beat Crawford five hole. I dunno, Crow looked square to him from my angle, but I can't really complain given that shitty line change. On the second goal, Hammer got called for a hold that I didn't see from the TV angle. On the ensuing PP, the Blues moved the puck pretty well and in a flash, Oshie got past Frolik and shot into a wide open net. Meh, this is Oshie, he's going to do that. From that point on,the Hawks shut it down pretty well. They generated several good scoring chances, kept up a forecheck and worked hard to the end. As for the Blues, I expect they will be a lot better the next time the Hawks see them. For today though, it seemed like the Hawks were doing pretty much everything they wanted, especially stretch passes, which I have to admit, baffled me at how successful they were. Physically, the Blues won that stat hands down and were dropping Hawks players with hits frequently. Bollig had his expected brawl and though the snobs are going to bitch about him, he's better at his role then John Scott was and appears to be able to play serviceable minutes without hurting the team.
Observations- I'm not going anywhere near making comparisons to the 2010 team, we are never going to see that much talent assembled again here. Still, there are some things I am seeing now that I have not seen since 2010. Perhaps they are meaningless, perhaps not. First and foremost, these guys play like they have each others backs and they look like they enjoy playing together. As has been mentioned already, contributions are coming from everywhere. Tonight especially, Crawford bailed out the guys in front of him on bad plays, and guys like Keith and Kruger returned the favor. Related, something that drove me batshit crazy for the last two years was watching this team let players stand in Crawford's face after whistles. This year, Kruger, Shaw, Rozsival and Brookbank have put a dead stop to that shit on their watch. Slowly but surely, I see Keith and Seabrook getting that message. Watching Kane, what I'm not seeing this year are his petulant, hands in the air whining when he misses scoring. He gets right back in the play and keeps on going. And though it's very early and I have a long way to go to believe Q has changed his ways, I no longer feel like I am watching a disjointed group of guys on the ice wherein the elite players never look like they are attempting to play to the level of players around them, let alone skate hard on forechecking and backchecking. As for individual players, I'll save that dissecting for another day. Looking at the ice time, it is clear that Q is getting solid efforts from all of his players.
Across the league, it is going to tighten up and it is crucial to get as many points as possible before that happens. None of these three games have been perfect, but they've now taken three from teams who were strong last year. Against the Kings they faced another well balanced team. Against the Yotes, they faced a relentless band of bitches. Now with the Blues, they won against a team who clearly is much better at physical play. Though each of these teams will be better, I also don't think we've come anywhere near the best of what the Hawks can do. That said, two years of underperforming will keep me skeptical while I celebrate.