Well, this looked like the game a lot of people probably expect for the series opener. Though there were periods of sloppy play by the Hawks, I don't think the game was ever really much in question. From the start the forecheck was strong, the Hawks were finishing their hits and they were controlling the puck. A lot. All in all, this was a pretty strong game. On the first goal, Frolik was in the right place at the right time and skated right into a rebound from a Shaw shot (say that ten times fast) and put it past the glove of Harding. On the very next shift, Frolik almost scored from the exact same spot after more hustle. In the second, with the Wild on the power play, the Hawks stripped the puck at center ice, Keith and Frolik had a sort of give and go and the puck bounced right to Frolik in the front of the crease and he beath Harding five hole for a shortie. Before the period was out, the Wild clawed one back on a play that I thought had a lot to do with Seabrook pinching way too low, way too late in the period. That set up a rush up ice and Setoguchi got a breakaway. In the third, Sharp buried a really sweet backhand that I'm still not believing went in, and then Sharp tallied again after Kane showed extreme patience and dished a near, no look pass through three mesmerized Wild players to a wide open Sharp who ripped a nice wrist shot. On the closer, the Hawks dumped the puck up the boards, Bickell skated his ass off to get to it and took a wild swing at it to redirect it into the empty net. That was that.
Observations: Though he was rewarded for working his ass off with two goals, Frolik ended the night at even on the +/-. Though I really can't fault him for the first goal, he, along with the rest of his line, got caught in a firedrill in their end and he got sucked into puck watching in the crease rather then picking up the shooter at the point. On the forecheck though, Frolik was a monster.
Kane was another player who was very noticeable all night. No longer is he just a floater who freelances his way through his shifts waiting to score. One highlight was watching him strip the puck away from Suter. It's also good to see him and Sharp starting to get some chemistry back. While Handzus may not enhance that line every shift, he is at the very least not doing anything that is slowing those two down.
Something on the top line still seems out of whack to me. Without a doubt, they dominated with puck control every time they touched it and ran circles around the Wild. Still, something between Hossa and Saad just doesn't seem to be working. It's weird to watch that line dominate like it does and not see them scoring.
Toews owned Koivu tonight. All night and there was no hiding it after he drew two penalties from Koivu trying to defend him.
The chin beard on Yeo looks like it came from the beard of Mike Rupp.
Next game Sunday in Minnesota.