Sharp and Crawford pick up 2 points in Carolina.

Sharp and Crawford pick up 2 points in Carolina.

I feel pretty good about crediting Sharp and Crawford with this win. Finally, Sharpie broke threw the wall that was keeping him from having 6 goals on the season and his 200th overall, and netted not only the go-ahead goal, but also the game winning shootout goal.

Crawford was playing his soundest hockey of the season so far, making some very strong saves to keep the Hawks in a game they maybe should have lost by the end of the 3rd. He still seemed a little deep in his net at times, but on a whole, Crow was following the puck extremely well, and making the reactionary saves that he often has problems with.

Yet another game where the Hawks dominate out of the gate, get a decent lead on a team, but can't put them away, play safe and uninterested hockey for a period or so, and then give up said lead. The Canes actually played like they wanted it though.

After the 2nd period, where the Hawks were significantly out-shot, I was expecting a really strong 3rd from them. They played the 2nd safe, and allowed the Canes to shoot from the outside, so while the shots were lopsided in this period, the Canes didn't have many honest scoring chances. I thought this might lead to a 3rd where the Canes were out, and the Hawks would pounce on some chances. Neither of those things happened, and we had a pretty open 3rd period with chances at both sides in which the Canes kept the upper hand and broke through Crawford twice. Not many would fault Crow for these goals.

The Canes were the better team in the OT, even found themselves on the power-play, but the PK was strong for the Hawks last night, and Toews even decided to almost win the game while shorthanded, like he often tries to do.

The Canes were the better team for 45 minutes IMO. Might come as a shock if you only watched the 1st period.

Go to the shootout where Kane didn't attempt his awesome deke move and came up short, Toews schooled Ward, but couldn't finish, and Sharp came through, practically hitting an empty net by the time he let go of the puck, while Crow stopped all 3. Yep, give these 2 points to 10 and 51.

Of course, I am going to question the switcheroos done yet again at the center positions. Handzus went from #2 center, to #4 in the past couple games and back to #2 last night. Pirri was here, and then he was gone, and Kruger has been all over the place with the exception of the #1 center as well. Zus has his positive talking points, but it was he who let Semin easily beat him to slot for the Canes first goal. IMO, we haven't seen anything remotely as terrible from Pirri, or Kruger for that matter. And, yet again, I think Sharp's speed has masked some of Zus's lack there of during regular play.

What was wrong with Shaw as the #2? Did it take away from Saad's effectiveness, and weaken a really strong 3rd line? Maybe, but isn't the best we have at the moment?

Also worth mentioning was the lack of face-off wins from Toews. Zus was the only center who won more than %50. Oh, wouldn't you know it, Sharp won %60.

Once again, Saad showed us that he might be good for 60 goals this year, without even scoring a goal, Shaw was a big factor, and Kane seemed to find his feet and hands for the first time this season IMO. Yes, he did not score a goal, but I thought that was Kane's best game this year.

Bickell, on the other hand, continues to underwhelm.

With the way Toews has been playing, added with the fact that Sharp has looked amazing, Saad is becoming as powerful as Toews, and Kane is finding his stride, the Hawks are power-packed up front. And, for the most part, besides a few miss-steps, the D has looked pretty strong as well. I think we can feel pretty confident in the display so far. They just need to plug a couple of cracks and get onto dominating the season.

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  • Nice wrap HH. This is bizarre, but literally one minute before that first goal went in, I had the thought that this wasn't going to be a shut out. I'm with you, I can't fault Crow on those goals and I thought he had a good game. As a rhetorical question, how do you keep such a talented group of guys motivated to play every shift like it's game 7? This was an important game for the Canes to help gain some confidence and generate some excitement. For that Hawks, it's one of two against a team they likely won't see any more then that. It's a bad habit to not finish out a game strong, but the Hawks have been doing this for awhile.

    As for Pirri, I thought he was okay in the game he played. Not great, not terrible, but not ready for second line duty. Zus totally got skeezed and let that guy slip by, but otherwise, he played like a guy with a ton of experience. A slow guy with experience, but nonetheless useful. I have a little more faith in Q and my biggest hope is that rather then doghousing him, Q is holding him back a bit to not let him get kicked around like Leddy did. It's a good problem to have, but Sharp and Hossa are amazing, very skilled, very experienced players. I think it's hard for a rookie center to both learn the game and try to make plays for two guys like that.

    The downside though is that I don't think he is going to keep elevating his game in the AHL. If the Hawks desperately needed him for 2C, he would be here and would have every opportunity to grow into the spot. On a stacked team that keeps winning by playing 2C by committee, he's got to show something more to get to stick around. Just my .02 anyway. If they aren't going to play him though and give him a shot, they probably should trade him before he becomes another Beach.

  • In reply to VegasHawksFan:

    I hear that. But, he hasn't been given any shots at the 2C spot, and maybe he should. I'm not saying he needs to be the #2 center anyway. I thought Shaw looked pretty comfortable there, and he has had success at the dot. What I don't want to see is a different center for each line besides the top line every game, and 2 centers out for face-offs every time.

    I agree about Handzus. He does make some experienced plays, but he also can't keep up with Sharp. Zus is good for that lead in pass, and then he is out. Pirri could keep up, has shown really great playmaker sense, and again, hasn't been given the shot in the first place. Maybe they could try him at the #3 spot with Saad? Although Saad is probably destined to take that winger spot away from Bickell soon.

    My point is, stop screwing around and make a choice. Give that choice about 10 games and see how it works. The second half of the season will be better off for it.

  • In reply to Hostile Hawk:

    I think Zus is good once everyone is in the zone and is good at catching guys with an unbelievable pass to the guy flying the zone. Where he absolutely can't keep up is in a quick transition game. I sort of like the idea that he doesn't play every game and becomes a playoff guy. Shaw isn't really second line material in my eyes, but damn, no matter where you put that kid, he will work his ass off and turn in a reasonable performance.

    I tend to think Pirri is going to get his chance because of injury. I don't see Zus playing a whole season, nor do I really see Hossa for that matter. The Hawks were very fortunate last year and I think the law of averages is going to bite at some point. If Pirri can keep positive in Rockford, I feel pretty confident he gets his shot at some point. I don't think he can handle that spot yet, but some people were probably questioning Shaw long after he had established himself. It sucks that injury is probably the only thing that gets him up for any length, but it might be the only way they give him a spot and let him try to make it work.

  • Hi guys,—long time!
    I usually don't chime in until the quarter poIe—and I haven't got my knickers knotted yet by Q and his in-game antics. I have mellowed over the year and going to back to May/June I think that was some of the most brilliant coaching I have seen.

    So, having said that, I'll categorically state that I neither support Q nor do I condemn him—for the time being. Nonetheless, I do agree with both of you re the need for a 2c and that Handzus, at the moment, is the best option. Fact is, IMO, that management has left Q with few options and for all intents and purposes this is still the "preseason" for many of the players. Let him try to find the right blend, let the players settle into their stride. For the moment, all is well as the fourfeathered ship coasts along with an easy tailwind.

    As for winning draws, forget it! They won without it last year and they have a good chance to do it again. Clearly there is nothing in the "system" at the moment. Sharp may be their best option at 2c but, for whatever reason, Q doesn't like him there.

    The 'hawks have a cushy schedule for the first 20 games. Let Q experiment, give everybody ice and and get a feel for how these guys gel playing with each other. We all know, all too well, that at some point, the musical chairs will be required and that's just the way it is with Q. On a bad team, Pirri might have a shot to slot into the 2c, but on the 'hawks and in Q's scheme you work your way into that role. It's the vets' job to lose for now…

  • In reply to fourfeather:

    FF in the house! Well stated my friend. Other people have said this before, before I think this will be a year where SB truly will need to make some decisions on his picks and look for a trade. Even with the cap roll back, the NHL team is still way stacked and though guys like Bolland and Frolik are gone, I feel like the balance is a little better then it had been previously which, IMO, makes it tougher to say X player is better then Y player and therefore should always play while the other sits. This is also part of why I think the games are closer right now. Instead of just rolling lines that have as much talent as possible, I feel like what we are seeing actually fits together. Guys like Saad and Shaw and Bickell and probably Smith are going to flip flop up and down lines and probably because of the the Stockholm effect, I no longer fear this. While it has at times been ugly to watch Q get outcoached, his ability to line blend creates an unpredictability that I think won them some important games last year.

    On the second goal the other night, Nordstrom made a mistake and that shit's gonna happen for a rookie. He knew it as soon as the goal went it that his no clear had a lot to do with that goal. Something I forgot to mention was that Roszival had a bad game and he hindered the team. In spite of mistakes and bad individual games, they still won. I agree with you that now is the time to figure this stuff and make mistakes and get it together. Tonight is an important game to make a bit of a bounce back statement against the Blues.

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