Besides the 1st period, the Blackawks played a pretty strong game. The defense, especially behind a PK on fire, continued to display superior play which might be the best element of the Hawks game during this record start. Keith continues to shine, Hjalmer is still playing perfect hockey, and Leddy brings his swift moves though the neutral zone with more confidence and fluidity every game. The Hawks roster on the defensive end is nothing short of tremendous, and it is maybe the number one reason to have good thoughts about the future of this season.
I want to take this moment to talk about Brandon Saad. Besides a rush up the ice by Leddy early in the game, and how much I liked seeing Shaw's work on that less than perfect 2nd line with Sharp and Kane, resulting in the goal which earned them a point, Saad was the most impressive thing on the ice. Oh, how you expected and wanted him to grab his first ever NHL goal and rightfully place this game in the win column. The kid is hard working, a forechecking magician, creates so much frustration for his opposition, and guess what, he has skills too. We already knew he had speed, but Saad showed last night that he can pull off some great moves while operating at that speed. It lead to more than 2 of the best chances on the night, and I can't wait to see what happens when he settles down and finds his scoring touch. I was excited about his promise before the season started, but now I am anticipating great things.
Yes, I think this game should have gone down as a win for the Hawks, but not based on the 1st period, which was a showcase of everything we fear about how the Hawks are capable of playing. Out of position, no fight, losing battles to pucks, getting out skated, and turnover city. I swear by my assumption that the Hawks win and lose games in the neutral zone, and this area was a disaster for the Hawks early. I began making mental notes about how much the 2nd line was irritating me, because they had to of given something in the ballpark of 9 turnovers just in the first half of play.
Bolland getting hurt stinks to the high hockey heavens, but it might have forced a decision that Q was not ready to, or capable of making. I don't even think it is Bolland per se, rather, it is the wrong mix of talents, and Sharp has been less than impressive so far. I will take this moment to once again promote my Bolland and Hossa line idea, but it is most likely mute, because things do not look good for Bolland right now. This brings up an even worse situation, because now the Hawks only have 2 natural centers in the mix. My wish would be to see Brandon Pirri brought up, and a little mixup in the chemistry of the lines.
This center situation is also an argument to have Mayers on the ice more often than Bollig. It gives you more options when bad stuff happens.
If you missed the game, you already know how I feel about the 1st, so let's move on. The rest of the game saw the Hawks improve with every minute. Not too far into the 2nd, the Hawks started gaining momentum and taking over control of the play, this however did not necessarily lead to scoring chances. The Hawks are showing some obvious concerns in moving as a unit, and again, I think it has something to do with chemistry. What we saw in the beginning of the season was unconventional hockey where the Hawks overwhelmed others with their talented roster. As you can see, things are changing, and perfection in movement and passing of the puck is more necessary.
By the 3rd and even before it, the Hawks had their step, and were out-skating the Nucks enough to generate scoring chanes. Unfortunately, Lou was quite comfortable saying no to them.
Worth mentioning is that the Hawks drew iron a few times in the game, and had 2 pucks that touched the goal line, one of which went 3/4 of the way through it. Meaning, this could have easily been a Hawks regulation victory. Duncan Keith had the best chance of the 1st half when he blasted a shot over Loungo's shoulder that consequently hit the inside of the post, road the crossbar, and then hit the opposite post and out. Yep, it was that close, and yes, Keith is feeling it these days.
Eventually, as mentioned, Shaw found himself playing with Kane and Sharp, which lead to the only Hawks goal in regulation, after Shaw made a difficult pass to Kane, and Kane made an even more difficult shot from a harsh angle beating Lou stick side.
Note to the Hawks: Stop going glove side on Lou.
OT was dominated by the Hawks, but they couldn't convert, and we had ourselves a little shootout.
Both goalies stopped the first 3 shots. Toews lost it before he could do anything, Kane tried his shifty Sam move, but went glove side (he had Lou on his stick side), Sharp tried to repeat his last run (BTW, did you notice his percentages in this department? Might be time to let someone else shoot for a while), and Leddy was thrown out there for the 4th shot after Crow let one slip by him. Leddy really didn't bring anything and then went for Lou's glove side.
End of story, the Hawks pick up a point, and got on a plane for Calgary. A couple of guys saw their ice-time climbing, especially because of OT and the Bolland injury, so it should be interesting tonight. They remain tied for first in the league with 14 points, but SJ has a game in hand. An especially great thing considering their schedule thus far.
Filed under: Game Recap