The big point for me last night, well actually 2 big points, is that the Hawks showed a lot of character battling back (especially Crawford), and also that the Sharks had played their 3rd game in 4 days. I hate to go back to it, because it was so hard to watch, but what we saw in Calgary was just so awful. My response to the game on this sight was far too compassionate. I should have been harder.
A giant reason why the Hawks might have been so bad was that they had played too much hockey in a short period of time. Given that the Sharks were pretty much in the same boat last night, and the Hawks were rested, the Sharks gave them a real good run for their money. The result was an exciting game, if you like all that scoring and all, but it is reason for pause on the celebration.
Next, I would like to talk about Saad. First goal on his career, it was awesome, it probably should have come sooner, and I expect a lot more to follow very soon. The goal had everything you want to see from an offensive power house, including a perfect finish from a guy who is doing all the right things.
Crawford. Yeah, um, okay, uh, so, you had a really rough start. The first goal was because of a rebound, resulting from your difficulties finding the puck. The 2nd was a sick shot, but was still very stoppable given the space and sight you had. The 3rd was a wrister that good positioning alone would have stopped. I have found myself starting to believe in you a bit, but the road is a lot longer than a few strong games. The same old problems, though maybe not as obvious anymore, are still there. You battled back though, and it deserves a shout. Keep keeping your head in the game, and you might make me a bigger believer.
Defense: You might already see this, and come to the same conclusion a week or so ago, but I have to say it. The most probable reason for Crawford's better performance this year could be fueled by the remerging defensive core. Besides Seabs, and boy didn't he look good on that Saad goal, everyone one of the players on the defensive roster has stepped up big time, and played some great hockey. I do believe this has been the difference for Crow.
The Hawks 2nd goal was due in large part to Stalberg's aggressiveness on the face-off. That, and the fact that every player on that line did exactly what they should have done. Bickell (who had his best game) going deep to get the puck, Shaw going right to the net, and him finding the hole around the large goaltender in front of him.
BTW, large props to the Hawks for getting their shots off the ice last night. Not that Niemi is weak up top, but he's almost impossible to score on low.
The 3rd goal was on San Jose, coughing up the puck right in front, and allowing Kruger to step right in, and the 4th goal was another turnover in front of Niemi. However, this time it was Captain Marvel's super skills and intensity you should thank. The guy can be a magician, stealing the puck like that, and then making the best darn pass you ever saw for Kaner to drive home the winning goal.
I can't say enough how great it is to see Kaner continue to put points on the board. He is up in the top 3 of the league now, and he deserves it.
The Hawks scored goals because they were in the right places, and did not give up on plays, just as they did not give up on the game. Again, keep in mind that SJ was dead tired by the 2nd period.
There are still issues with how quickly the forwards can get caught exiting the zone, and this must be fixed. I am also completely sold now that the 2nd line cannot stay as it currently does. It just aint workin Q. I will once again, in the name of beating a dead horse, ask for Hossa to be moved to the 2nd line. Just do it. I promise it will work out. This might also mean making changes around the board though. Does Saad go with Hossa, or does Stalberg move up? Should Toews and Bolland just switch wingers? All options in my book, and all of them suit this team better than what we currently see.
18 points out of a possible 20, especially in a shortened season is a lot of reason to get excited. Based on the sheer fire power this team has, I am ready to jump on board the party bus for this year's possibilities. Taking out the Sharks last night was huge, even if they were tired.