Solid is the best word to describe the Blackhawks win over a struggling San Jose Sharks last night. Sure, they have some explosive talent on the front end, and they have what I consider to be the best defensive roster in the league, even with Seabrook in lala land. When it comes down to it, this team is just really hard to beat, and that my friends is why they chase the greatest start in NHL history.
Penalties galore in this one, including an instigator penalty for Captain Marvel because of his bought with Captain Asshole. This was just a reason for Chicago to display its fantastic and superior PK, and boy did they. No reason to talk more about how great that area of the Hawks play is so brilliant to watch, we all know that by now. And we all know why Toews had to throw down on Thornton.
An element that hasn’t been so hot, after what could be considered a good start, is the power-play. Sure, they grabbed a PP goal in this one, but overall, they just aren’t really feeling it. As I have said here before, they could take some tips from the reason their PK is so great. Be aggressive. Bringing an added dose of aggression, along with a more appropriate passing regimen could have a significant impact on the power-play’s productivity. Seriously, they either hold onto the puck too long, or pass it too quickly into traffic.
And, start utilizing the one-time more often, because they had a few missed opportunities for that reason. Even Sharp is hesitating to just let it fly. A one-timer takes advantage of movement, and the Hawks need more movement on their power-play.
Sometimes, a successful power-play can just be one that causes enough struggles for the other team, even if it doesn’t score goals.
But I am not here to complain today, because there is far more reason to be excited about the possibilities of this season for the Hawks.
An element that seemed improved upon last night was the play of the team (whole team, as in forwards and defense as a unit) in their own zone. This could be due to playing a team who is struggling offensively, but the positioning was better regardless.
Given what I have seen so far, the Hawks are usually an offensive threat. Even their 4th line is scoring, which has the possibility of improving as the season progresses. Yes, they are a puck possession team who will often win games solely on the fact that they have the puck more than the other guys. If they continue to work on the play in their own zone, the Hawks could become a force of nature for that reason alone.
Last night’s game was not about individual plays, rather, it showcased the greatness of this year’s overall play by the Hawks. They are a team, playing as a team, with players finding roles and filling them well. They are supporting each other, especially their goaltender, and many of them are firing on all cylinders.
This becomes easier when the coaching staff approaches the roster as a unit, rather than as individuals. I still think there is room for improvement here, but that is only more reason to have positive thoughts about future outcomes. Possibly the greatest change this year is the rolling of the lines. There was a moment early in the game when Q allowed his 4th line to continue play against SJ’s top line. Last year, he freaks out and makes an impromptu change. This could have been my largest complaint last year. This year, it adds to the success.
Continuity breeds consistency, and the Hawks look primed to be a consistent threat at all ends of the ice, and against any type of game their opponents can throw at them. This is why the Blackhawks are winning and very well should continue to do so.
If I could point to any players who had huge games last night, it would have to be Hjalmer, Kruger, and Shaw. Consequently, these are also players who scored goals. Emery was also very solid in net again, making a couple of really big saves and at times that could have had large impacts on the outcome.
Kruger continues to make me eat my words of doubt for his ability to play in the NHL, and Hjalmer continues to make me proud to have stood by him through his rough patch. If I had to single any players out for the success of this year, it would include both of those players, along with Kane, who illustrated his sick skills a couple of time last night, but remains a little invisible compared to his first 12 games.
The element that Shaw brings could be highlighted in a play he made early in the 3rd when he was destroyed by Murray and still managed to get the puck to his teammate, taking a pounding, but winning the war. Because, moments later, Hjalmer ripped a shot past Niemi. A goal made possible by retention of the puck created from Shaw’s sacrifice.
Need I say more?
Filed under: Game Recap