Dominant play out of the gate sent the Blackhawks to a 3-0 lead against the struggling Kings, which was fairly similar to the way things had gone the other night against the Sharks. It was so impressive that our "Hockey in America" announcers and analysts were left with their tongues hanging out of their mouths, too flabbergasted to say anything of real meaning. Every single thing they said basically equated to an astounding WOW, and regurgitating amazing things about our very own Captain Marvel, rightfully so.
There was however, one glaring difference between this game and the San Jose game. It comes down to putting teams away, or fighting through the entire 60 minutes. There has been an issue with the Hawks this year, along with preceding years, to keep the gas on for the entire game. It has been somewhat masked by the dominating play in all other periods, but correct me if I am wrong, the Hawks have not won many 3rd periods this year, and yesterday's 3rd period was quite alarming.
The difference between this year and last is that these results are stemming from different causes. In the past it seemed like an unwillingness to care. Now, I see a complacency with winning. Q had better be wise to get rid of this mentality asap, because it could fester into something worse, which could be disastrous if and when the Hawks hit a skid or rough patch.
They need to keep playing their game throughout the contest. Without fail, I called the 3rd period results moments after Sharp's goal, which at the time was just another goal added to the domination, and ended up being the game winner. I knew the 3rd was likely to be trouble, because it has been the case so many times before with the Hawks.
Enough about that, here are some more positive insights:
- The 4th line is a beast. My very first comment during the game had to do with the the 4th line, because they are killing it. And getting better if my eyes don't deceive me. Kruger and Fro are playing out of their minds, to the point where they can compete against other team's top lines. I realize that I have said this before, but this is that important to why the Hawks are without a regulation loss this season. Not surprisingly, they were also the reason for the first goal.
- That brings me to Duncan Keith, who had to very prominent assists in the 1st period. He is beginning to remind us why he is possibly the best defensemen in the league, and it has to do with puck control. Both of his assists were do to quick movement, having a sense of the ice and finding open lanes, along with beautiful passes across the ice resulting in easy goals for his teammates. There was an even better moment late in the 2nd which was even more impressive, when he controlled the puck on the Kings blue line so well that it fooled every single player out there in a white uniform. Yep, Keith is back!
- This also leads me into another big moment for the Hawks. Seabrook is starting to step it up from his grueling start to the season, and it just happened to help fuel a goal yesterday, which was again, the result of a brilliant pass from Keith, which was setup by the 4th line. However, the most exciting element of this goal comes from the fact that Seabrook was so confident in this line's play, that he left his post at the blue line and skated across the ice to the goal line, where he waited to slam home Keith's pass. All the vents leading to this goal are simply speechless.
- The other guy whom we have been waiting to get back to normal is Patrick Sharp, and like Seabrook, he seems to be doing it. This happens to coincide with a game winning goal, but Sharp was close on a few other occasions, showing more grit in all aspects of his play. This is good.
- Another area of improvement was the power-play IMO. I have been critical of it this year, even when it was scoring, pointing to the lack of movement and passing speed as the main issue. Well, yesterday, besides their 2nd man-advantage, the Hawks looked a little more inspired to make some magic. Again, a big reason for this inspired movement of the puck was Duncan Keith's control as the quarterback, but all around, everyone's feet were moving, the passes were quick, proceeded by quick feet, and it lead to an easy tap in for Toews. This is a team using its strengths in all areas of play, because we already know what 5-on-5 hockey has looked like, and how dominating the PK has been.
- Funny thing about that PK. When the PP looks better, the PK misses the mark a bit. 2 short handed goals against yesterday is just about how many they have allowed in the prior 14 games. The point is, when the Hawks find success in both of these areas of play, and I do believe they will, they just might be unbeatable.
So, the Hawks need to continue the movement on the PP we saw yesterday, and just keep doing everything else the way they have been. Besides the 3rd period, the Hawks were even looking good in their own zone, which has been something of a continual progression in the past few games. It helps to point out that while the Hawks are obviously a puck possession team, they get that possession from their speed and positioning during breakouts. Basically, the Hawks always need to be on the offense, staying aggressive, and moving the puck. The second they slow down, sit back, and try to play defense, they begin to fall apart. Hence the 3rd period play seen this season. Some teams can win this way, the Hawks are not one.
- I have to say this as my last bullet for the game: Oduya, you have been a very welcomed presence on this roster. My guess would be that the Hawks record (excluding the playoffs) has been very impressive since you got here, and that says something. But, you are now guilty of making the worst, most bone-headed play of the season. Punching a guy in the back of the head, while your defensive partner is tossing the puck into an empty net to put the game away is about as bad as they come. Instead of winning 4-2, your team had to fight hard to avoid a tie for the remaining minute plus. Just don't ever do that again.
To make history, the Hawks need to get through the Canucks first. How fitting. The Nucks will be coming off of a shootout loss, and both teams will have tomorrow to think about Tuesday night's game. This will not be an easy win. Also, the team that still reigns as having the longest start to a season without a loss is also on a roll these days. Those Ducks are looking mighty impressive, and continue to shadow the Hawks in this early grab for points.
Filed under: Game Recap