Well, I cant say I expected to see 8 goals in this game, let alone seeing five of them come from the Hawks. Though the game was essentially over at the end of the first period, I give the Wild credit. They worked their ass off and again made the Hawks earn this one. In quite a few games, I felt like the goals the Hawks have been giving up have been of the shitty variety. IE, a softie from Crow or Emery, or some unlucky bounce off a board that bounces right to an open player. Tonight though, I thought the Wild partly outworked the Hawks to score and partly took advantage of a Hawks team that might be getting a little tired of seeing the same kind of game every single night wherein they are going to have to grind from start to finish. Everyone is amazed of course at the record, and with a new franchise record set tonight, I have a bad feeling the Avs are going to take one of the next two games. But, for now, it's another happy night.
Prior to the game, the Hawks honored Hossa for his 1000th game. Watching the whole team come out in Hossa jersey's was pretty cool while slightly disturbing in an Agent Smith matrix kinda way. Once the puck dropped, the Wild brought a real strong forecheck and had the Hawks pinned in their zone to start the game. Then on a clearing attempt just before the middle of the period, Shaw coughs up the puck at the blue line to Zucker who got it down low and eventually Setoguchi potted it. About five minutes later the Hawks finally started to get something going and Saad potted a nice backhander after collecting his own rebound in front of the net. 40 some seconds later Bickell hit for the first of his two on the night. Three and a half minutes later Bickell picked up his second with an assist from Saad, and finally, with 1:15 left to go in the period, Saad again assisted on a nice goal from Hossa, which fittingly, turned out to be the game winner. That was pretty much that and Backstrom got the hook between periods.
Second period was no scoring and then the Wild came back in the third with a really strong start and started to press again. Right off the bat, after getting beat to the outside, Hammer got whistled for a hook and on the resulting power play, Suter ripped a pipe clanging shot from the point that Crawford probably didn't see with all the traffic in front. Then at the midpoint of the period, Brodziak scored a backhander after Crawford gave up a rebound and the rest of the Hawks got caught standing around watching the Wild carry the puck in with speed. But, just about a minute later, the Hawks moved the puck up ice and Kane released his own wicked pipe clanging goal and I just had a feeling that that was finally it. Minnesota skated hard after that and got some good chances and had the Hawks running for stretches. Still, after Kane scored that goal and pushed the deficit back to two, it just seemed to completely kill the momentum of the wild.
Thoughts- I'm not very excited about potentially starting to see the Wild more often right when they are starting to improve. Yeo has that team working very hard and though they gave up five goals tonight, their goals against is not horrible by any stretch compared to the rest of the league. Luckily, they are not putting it together offensively. Yet. As for the Hawks, Crawford had to make some big saves and at times the Hawks were sloppy/outworked and gave up some really bad turnovers. Considering that every team they play is going to have this intensity from here on out, I do start to wonder how long they can keep up this pace of bang and grind. At the start of the season, I expected a contract year out of Bickell, and he looks like he is starting to catch a little fire. Saad was awesome tonight and spent time on the PK in Fro's absence. This kid is doing a lot of really good things and it continues to amaze me the Hawks were able to grab him where they did in the draft.
Lastly, something I know few people want to talk about is the approaching trade deadline. While I probably wouldn't fault the Hawks for going all in and risking losing very good players for nothing in return, I also wonder if SB is thinking he has enough depth to take a gamble on trying to get value while he can. Favorite of this blog, Stalberg, is a UFA after this season, as is Bickell and Roszival who is a player that I think we have to admit we have been begging for, a guy who hits some people, brings some snarl and thus far, has been pretty patient and solid with the puck. in addition to the UFA's, Kruger and Leddy are RFA's and after the rooster block that Wilson attempted with Hammer, I don't think they are going to take chances with Leddy. With the cap dropping to 64 mildo next year, SB will AGAIN be in the position of needing to ship guys out. This season, I think Stalberg is the guy a lot of teams are gong to be interested in. I would love to see him stay, but I'm not sure the Hawks can afford him. Do we wait til summer and watch him walk away with no return? I dunno. Across the board, between trying to hold onto their lead, facing every teams best game every night and thinking about things like this, I think March is going to be a tough month for this team.
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