There's something about this picture that worries me.
Back-to-Back games with 2 starts very consistent to what we have gotten used to from the Blackhawks out of the gate. Essentially, a dominant performance and the 1st line at the lead. In last night's game, that top line had about 6 shots on net, 2 posts and sustained pressure for over a minute just 4 minutes into the 1st period. It sets a little bit of the stage that is the Blackhawks this year, and provides a picture of how lucky their opponents who have weathered these storms are.
The first of 2 games in 2 nights ended up with results pretty far from most of our expectations. A 9 goal game with the Predators is not something I would bet on. However, the Preds were being successful with the tactics that we are all familiar with, such as weathering storms, and taking advantage of the few opportunities presented by their opponent.
A moment of bad coverage, and another of questionable goaltending, add in some lucky bounces (with hard work), and it caused our scoring match to take flight. Not really the type of game the Preds want to engage in though, and especially against the Hawks. After every Preds goal, you could almost hear the Hawks say, "okay, we will score another."
The Coyotes, as they so often do, had Smith to thank for the eventual outcome, as there was a point in the 2nd when the scoring chances were 10-0 in favor of the Hawks, and 22-3 halfway through the game. Something that excites me is how little a defensive trap team seems to effect the Hawks these days. Their cycling, transition game, and speed through the neutral zone is just too much for some of the best defensive systems to handle. The Hawks are seemingly in control of their own fate these days.
But this post is about power-plays, because the Hawks finally converted! Power-play goals started and finished off the Preds game, and Seabs connected for 2 PP goals against the Yotes. In a couple of pretty meaningless games for the Hawks, a shimmer of significance emerges. If this PP success were to follow into the playoffs, I believe it could make them unstoppable.
So what gives? Why did they have so much success this weekend? 2 words, ONE TIMER. It has been my perspective that the Hawks have been doing a decent enough things right on their man-advantages to have converted more than their stats would show. All except their willingness to shoot, and to use the one-timer. If you can move the puck like the Hawks can, and retrieve the puck as well as they can, then why not let er rip a little more often? The key to a successful PP is getting the puck moving, which gets the goaltender moving, and getting a quick shot off before the goalie can set himself up again. Of course, a great screen helps, and we saw of that too. Shaw is super-human.
Here's where Kane's skills come in, and where having a guy on the point who is comfortable with one-timer opportunities is huge. 3 of the 4 PP goals were scored from defenseman and 3 of them came from Kane's passing. Important to mention is that Leddy factored into both goals last night as well. Enough said.
Not to be outdone, the penalty kill unit was as perfect as ever. Given how well this unit has consistently performed, and how well the Hawks play 5-on-5 hockey, a successful PP will just about provide the icing on the cake for the Hawks in the playoffs.
Side note: I really think Q should rethink Kruger on the 2nd line with Sharp out. It is hopefully a non issue very soon, but I can't speak enough about how much it should be Frolik's opportunity. Kruger missed a wide open net, which could be compared to Crow's inability to get in front of a bouncing puck from the center line.
Yeah, so Crow had a couple of brain farts, one of which cost the Hawks a point, but whatever. His puck control is so suspect, and is the source of my worst fears heading into the post season. On the other end, we got to watch the goaltender make unbelievable saves. In the end, I think the Yotes just had more to play for and the Hawks were feeling the physical toll of 2 games in 2 nights. I find it unreal that the puck did not end up in the net behind Smith just a minute into OT, one of which would have given Seabs a Hatty, but it didn't, and it doesn't matter too much. I still think I would sleep easier knowing the Yotes are not getting into the playoffs.
Filed under: Game Recap