Back-to-back convincing wins have placed the Blackhawks back on top of the NHL throne. You might have noticed that the Hawks had fallen to the Ducks in NHL Power Rankings, even though this was IMO, a bit unwarranted. I understand completely what the Ducks are accomplishing here, but the Hawks are currently holding a plus 38 goal differential. Anaheim's plus 26 is pretty amazing, but there is still a 12 goal difference added on top of the 5 point lead in the West. This will all come crashing together with both teams cruising towards a huge showdown this Wednesday night, which also has the NHL salivating at the mouth.
But before we get there, let's briefly talk about last night. I started with the above paragraph because I saw last night as a statement game by the Hawks. If not to the hockey world, then to themselves. They needed to right what was wronged just over a week ago, and take back what was taken from them, or what they had given up. Just as their 8-1 win Dallas didn't even take into full context the dominating play by the Hawks, neither did last night's 5-2 win over the Avs.
Dallas fell hard because they just couldn't keep up with the Hawks playing at full throttle for 60 minutes, but the Avalanche can skate with them, and are one of few teams who can do so. The Hawks had to be better at everything else, and they were, especially when it cam to puck movement and support. It felt a little like a taunt, "sure you can skate with us, but can you pass and support like us?"
It showed what the Hawks are capable of, and why they are so hard to handle. If you missed the game, to put in perspective, the control of the game the Hawks had became so bad that the Avs were tormented by their fans, while a cheer of "Go Hawks" dominated the airwaves in Colorado. Sure, this win was against the last place team in the conference, but they are not an AHL team, and the Hawks made it look that way.
Oh my was the passing crisp, and well planned. After going up 4-1, the Hawks could have just cycled the puck in the Avs corner for the rest of the game, because Colorado just couldn't handle it. There was one moment when the 3rd line cycled the puck back down low 3 times in a row, and then switched corners where they did the same, generating space in the process and keeping the Avs chasing around like kids at recess. It was over when Stalberg and Bickell would decide it be.
And of course, the best puck mover out there was number 88. I can't say enough about how happy I am that he got his game (and life) back together, and has started to focus on hockey. Mad props need to be sent in his direction. I have nothing but love now, and feel lucky to be able to watch it every night.
Unfortunately, after a rough hit, Hossa had to leave the game never to return. I am optimistic that the score had more to do with his permanent exit, but fear that this is becoming all too common place for him.
This did give us a chance to see Kane up with Toews and Saad on a few occasions which was rewarding to say the least. The first Hawks goal was the result of a group effort by the line of Bollie/Kaner/Hayes, but I have to say that I liked seeing Kane with 19 and 20 for a while. It helps add reasons for moving Hossa to the 2nd line with Bolland which is the moment I have been waiting for all along.
There is a lot of good that came out of the game last night, but someone who continues to disappoint, I am talking about Seabrook, was benched during the game. Hallelujah! Q benched his prized stallion. And look what happened, he scored a goal afterward! This goal came off of an example of what makes Kane such a special hockey player, but the movement on the play in which Keith and Seabs switched sides is what brought a tear to my eye. if only we could see more of that.
Quickly, because I can't get enough of pointing this out, Hjalmer is the best defenseman on the team, and that is with Keith playing pretty well.
And let's just leave it at that. The Hawks displayed some of their awesome skills the past couple of games, and maybe even a little angst for having their streak ended. It is promising that they can turn it up so high when they want to. The real test is of course this Wednesday when I hope they put it all out there for the world to see, because they have the next 4 days after to rest and look back on it.
Filed under: Game Recap