My biggest thought about this game tonight is that the Hawks took care of business and played like a team that looks ready for the playoffs. Every game has its moments of slop and bad turnovers, but by and large, I thought the Hawks played a perfect road game. Nothing fancy, though some goals were pretty nice, mostly solid team defense and contributions up and down the lines. Mot of all, I thought the Hawks were patient. Sure, this was against Edmonton, a team that is going nowhere at the moment despite having a buttload of talent. But, were it not for one defensive breakdown by a kid in his first NHL game, this might have been a shutout. On the Oilers lone goal, which came on probably LeBlanc's first or second shift, he seemed to "get lost" in the play and left Nail Yakupov wide open. Shit happens and ultimately, it didn't matter in this game.
As for the goals, Toews sniped what was probably a bad goal on Dubnyk. On the second goal though, Handzus made an awesome strip and fed Kane a real sweet pass up the middle and he beat Dubnyk five hole. On the third goal, Zus again got the puck to Kane who skate up, did a half spin o ramma and put the puck right on the tape of a pinching Oduya who teed up a slapper. On the last goal, Sharp worked his ass off on the boards and fought a defender all the way up ice to pick up an empty netter. In between all those, the Hawks feasted on 22 give aways from the Oil, blocked 13 shots, killed two penalties and grinded it out. Honestly, for parts of this game I was bored. And though I think the Hawks played a full game, I couldn't help but think they knew exactly how much effort they needed to put in and didn't put in an ounce more.
Frolik tonight was a scratch and I am hoping it's just giving him a night off. Emery left the game just about half way into the first, and I haven't heard what it is. That is certainly not good news no matter how well Crawford played and BTW, he again played good and had an absolute filthy glove save that is highlight reel worthy. At this point, when Kane, Toews and Hossa dominate, I expect it. But the player I was far away impressed with tonight was Michael Handzus. Long way to go, but right now, SB looks like a freaking genius for snagging him. If you are going to make a deep run, he is exactly the type of guy you need around. He will not light anyone on fire with speed, but no matter what line you put him on, he is likely going to do something very smart to make himself useful. And he did multiple times tonight. He also won defensive zone draws.
A final word about LeBlanc. For at least 40 minutes of the game, I thought the kid looked nervous and constantly unsure where to put himself. After the first goal went in, he was taken off the second line but by the end of the game was back on it and came very close to scoring his first NHL goal at least 3-4 times. He started to show some smarts and made several really nice passes and eventually started to draw the shoves and face washes that rookies get when they are starting to be a pain in the ass to the opposing team. I'll take that as a good sign.
With this win, the Hawks accomplished another accolade that I'm not going to talk about because it won't mean jack if they don't win the cup. Next up, the Flames on Friday.