I have to start by giving my thoughts and as much positive energy as I can muster towards Boston and those hurt by yesterday's event. If I speak too much on the matter, I will end up with my foot up my mouth, so in as simple a way as I can put it, the world can be scary and often plain unjustified. This fact provides me with even more motivation to try and push through the hate and fear, attempting to replace it with love and hope. I dream of a world where these realities are far less occurring, and in which people feel no need to hurt others.
Now it feels wrong to talk about hockey. Well, I will keep it short. It's not like last night's game was anything special, or provided a glimpse into the future. Unless it is the sweep that will occur if Dallas plays the Hawks in the first round.
From the gate, as with the past few weeks it seems like, the Hawks dominated the play and puck possession. Last night, it continued for the greater half of the game, with the Hawks giving the Stars a little room in the 2nd period, but not too much.
Of course, the Toews line was too much to handle, and Saad had made about 3 outstanding plays by the 14 minute mark, the 3rd resulting in a beautiful goal. Saad was holding onto the puck, drawing towards the Stars blue line, when he threw a pass across the zone to a wide open Hossa, who quickly threw it towards Toews in front of the net to complete a bang-bang-bang play. Everything about this goal was awesome.
You might find yourself wondering why Kane's production has quieted while Toews' has been exploding. Yeah, look at their line mates. Toews always produces more at the end of the season, but it seems like Q wants to watch as Kane ends his production so that Toews can be the Hawks leading scorer. Bolland has really disappointed throughout the season, and placing Kruger on his other wing with so many other offensive minded forwards to pick from (eh em, Frolik, eh em) leaves this Hawks fan feeling Kane's pain.
It is no wonder that it took Kane staying out for a bit of extra ice time with the start of the 3rd line for him to pick up a point again.
Changing the D pairs has been Q's best decision as a coach this year. Splitting up the 2 top pairs brought consistency and balance to the force. I wonder who suggested that move before the season had started? Hjalmer's play helped to make that a reality, as it was strong before the switch, but Keith's skating ability has really allowed Hjalmer to settle in and get comfortable. It also provided Seabs with the necessary kick in the butt to get his game back where it needs to be.
Did Dallas even have the puck in that 1st period? In what could have been seen as their only scoring chance, Bickell ended with a great back-check. On Bickell: the guy has just always underwhelmed me. I think it is because he shows so much skill. He hasn't ever lived up to what I see he is capable of. The kid has got great hands, strong speed, and is big. You start to see why he has gotten so many chances to show his worth.
Just when you thought the game was way too close on the scoreboard to describe what we were all watching, Stalberg, the guy you want to see scoring goals, plows through a team far too slow to keep up. Defensive zone face-off won by Handzus, and Bam, Stalberg was gone in a flash. There was a couple nifty passes between Vick and Handzus, but it was all Stalberg, all the way. It is very, very promising that Stalberg is waking up at this point in the season. Glad to see Q up his ice-time above last game's.
Unfortunately, the Hawks would let up enough to allow the Stars to tie it. A 3 on 1 against because Kane coughed up the puck high in the Stars zone with a pinching Duncan Keith helped to bring this game too close. You really want to see the defense stay at home in a game like that, and want to see Kane get it deep even more in that situation. Hjalmer played the 3 on 1 perfectly, but Emery, who wasn't exactly awesome, gave up the first of 2 goals from Jamie Benn, and he could have made at least 1 of those saves. Eh.
I guess it just provided a reason for the Hawks to pump up their offensive play again. As soon as the Stars tied it, the Hawks began their breakout towards a 5-2 win. Kane would find Shaw to make it 3-2, and then the always amazing play of the top line, after Hossa hustled to win a puck even against a great defensive play, allowed Hjamler to find himself with the puck all alone in the high slot. He pummeled it behind Bachman to end the Stars hopes of the much needed points.
The power-play continued to disappoint throughout as it went without a goal. It has gotten to the point where Q sent out Handzus, Frolik, and Kruger to start one of them. This shows the kind of crap shoot that Q is running when it comes down to things not being overshadowed by the amazing depth and talent on this roster. Seriously, it doesn't really seem to matter right now, but fix this. Figure out the breakout, put together the right group of guys, and set something up. We have one of the best PK's in the league to practice against. Don't just throw your hands in the air.
And for Pete's sake, get Kane some offensive sense on his line. Frolik and Shaw are far better choices than Kruger for this job. If not them, then the 1st line can surely part with Hossa until Sharp comes back. It's not like they were less dominant with Frolik in Hossa's spot. Recognize.
Ending on a good note: Hossa had a great game! I hope he continues to amp it up straight into the the playoffs. And if my math is correct, 1 more win clinches the conference.
Filed under: Game Recap