The Blackhawks have not lost a game in 7 tries. This is good because their division is ridiculous right now, and gaining points seems to be that much more important even if it is only early November. The competition level has seemingly been raised by the likes of Colorado, St. Louis, Minnesota, Phoenix and San Jose, which doesn't even include the team with the most points in the Western Conference. The Hawks have only lost 2 games all year, and that isn't even good enough for 1st or 2nd place in the conference. Game on!
It is probably fitting to point out too, that the Hawks didn't exactly face the top level of competition these past weeks. They did however face the last place team last night, who also happens to be a thorn in the Hawks side when it comes to winning games. Last night, they prevailed, even if it was just barely. Onto some thoughts and observations about the Hawks:
- If we can't play Khabibulin in the second of back-to-back games, especially when that game is against the lowest seed, and his old team, I would say we have ourselves a problem. Am I shocked, no, but it does worry me a tad. Some of the decisions made now could effect the Hawks probability of going deep come playoff time, and I haven't liked some of these decisions so far. Not to mention that the 2 million salary given to Khabi could have been used to keep Frolik around.
- Patrick Kane looked really good last night, and so did his main line for that matter. I say main line, because Kane was doing an awful lot of double shifting. In fact, he had a triple shift in the 1st period. I couldn't believe it, but it happened. He saw a few other triple shifts because of power-plays, but pretty much every time he came out with the 2nd line, he stayed for another shift in Brookbank's spot. And yes, Kane has been playing really great hockey. He is almost at a point a game!
- If Brookbank is not going to play more than 12 minutes in 2 games, is it worth it to keep Morin off the ice, especially given that Morin was looking pretty stellar in his limited appearances. Is Q rewarding Brookbank for playing so well on defense with shifts on the offense, where he looks a little confused, and at the same time punishing Morin for playing great hockey? I'm confused, and so should everybody else, but I do know that I don't like seeing Kane have 2 minute + shifts, especially this early, and especially against bottom feeder teams.
- Onto some positives, and none could be more shiny than the performances put on by Saad this year, and the domination of the 1st line, which is the best line in hockey IMO. Sure, that 1st line was silent on the board last night, but they sure have been loud throughout their tenure as a line, and they just seem to be getting better. Saad, on the other hand, is providing his own type of domination, and looks to be learning some passing tricks from Kaner. I like this 2nd line, and I think it has a lot of room for improvement. Pirri has a good deal of work ahead of him, but if they stay the course and allow him some freedom to figure it out, thanks to the domination of Kane and Sadd, we see 2 powerhouse lines.
- I'm not sure what Q is doing with the bottom 6 right now, but he seems to want that Kruger line out there a lot, and it doesn't matter against who. In principle, I like this, and it was the only reason Kane didn't surpass 30 minutes of icetime last night. But, I wonder how well this works against top seeded teams? Either way, you have to be happy with the play of Kruger, Smith and Bollig. Kruger is smart, which is why he is effective. Smith doesn't quit, and is usually in the right place. He adds a great deal of offensive sense to that line and has made some unbelievable plays these past weeks. Bollig has really surprised me, and he seems to be improving. Got to hand it to him, he gave us a reason to see him more, although I am still shocked that he hasn't missed a single game to give Morin some ice.
- Neither Edmonton or Dallas were clean wins. Penalties hurt the Hawks in Dallas, and inconsistency hurt against the Oilers. Edmonton just seems to have the Hawks number. It was a bad start with a lucky finish to the 1st period. They seemed uninterested for great stretches and only turned it on for about a period from mid 2nd to mid 3rd. They dominated when they did this, and I will give them that it was a 2nd game in 2 nights. But, Q should be pulling his hair out because of that shorty against late in the game. A 2 goal lead and a power-play with only a few minutes remaining should spell clear victory. It didn't, and it was his top guys who watched it happen.
- Speaking of power-plays, the Hawks were sure lucky to see as many as they did last night. I thought the last 2 were questionable calls that went in their favor. And, I will once again bring up the confusion I have in seeing Keith out there time after time instead of Leddy, but let's give Keith credit for figuring out (maybe he learned this from Leddy) that getting the puck to the net is more important than how hard it is hit. Speaking of that, Hjalmer seems to be able to do both, so maybe he deserves a couple of power-play shifts.
- I also think that Shaw's continual efforts need acknowledgment. He is getting shifts with a defenseman who sees little ice, and Shaw is still providing enough forward motion for the whole line. He never quits, gets in players faces every second he doesn't have the puck, and boy can he drive the net. Those attributes pretty much apply to Saad, Sharp and Smith as well. 4 players doing it across 4 lines. Yeah, that's a great sign.
- On a whole, the team is playing some really sound hockey with momentary lapses of reason. Clean up the lapses and this team can steamroll anyone. Maybe the higher end competition coming up will provide some motivation to do just that. Either way, it might say something about this team.
Enough said. Sorry about the gaps between posts, this has been a trying few weeks.
Filed under: Game Recap