A 6-2 win that could have looked more like an 8-0 win if Raanta wasn't guilty of 1 softy per game, the officials made the right call before the Stars last goal, and if Bollig could hit an empty net. Yep, it was that kind of a domination by the Hawks. More important than purely overwhelming with offensive skill, the Hawks skated hard last night. Roussel might want to take note that giving the Hawks a reason to play hard when your team is the Stars might not be such a great idea. There were few battles lost by the Hawks through the full 60, and they stole more than a handful of pucks with an ease that was almost ridiculous.
It should be pointed out that Dallas was without 3 of their top defensemen, and that this most surely allowed the Hawks more freedom to the net than would have been the case. It also aided in some of the many defensive turnovers by Dallas, resulting from a strong backcheck and forecheck pursuit by the Hawks forwards.
My first item to discuss upon reflection of this game is the play of the newbies. First on that list is Jeremy Morin. Maybe the only reason I can sleep knowing that Pirri was sent back down is that Morin deserves to be here more. The kid is doing everything, and all of it right. The first Saad goal was the result of a play made by Morin. He aggressively stole the puck from Dallas deep in the Hawks zone, and drove the puck all the way to the other end hard. Saad eventually made a great keep, getting the puck back to Morin who made a strong pass to a pinching Kostka. He throws the puck at the net, Shaw drives in to pick up the garbage like he does, and gets the puck to Saad who puts it home. This is a great example of an effort from an entire line and it started with Morin. This was not the exception in Morin's play however, and I'm not sure how he avoided scoring a goal or 2 on the night. His presence has been very important to that line's production and strength. Once again he managed 3 shots on net with the least amount of ice-time on the team.
Ben Smith hasn't been too shabby either. I have made the comment before, and I really mean it when I say that he is making that "4th" line successful. I also think Q is being a little too confident in that formation of Kruger, Smith, and Bollig, but nothing has gone wrong yet. I would note that this line had more ice-time than the Shaw, Saad, Morin line, and Bollig was on the ice more than Saad. I guess in a blowout it doesn't hurt to rest the better players, if that was the reason, but it worries me. Also worth noting, Saad scored twice in only 10 minutes on the ice and is a beast defensively. Anyhow, Smith's hard work and smart sense for the ice has been priceless and allowed Q to play Bollig much more than any of us wants to see.
That brings us to Antti Raanta. So 2 goals against per game is kind of his NHL thing? That last one against seemed willed into the net by some curse against him. The final seconds ticking down, and Shaw tries to make a pass in the Dallas zone that allows the puck back into the Hawks zone, the officials miss calling a blatant too many men by Dallas, who end up with a prime scoring chance and rightfully get it past Raanta. Brain fart by everyone on the ice and Raanta losses the chance to get his goals against below 2. His first goal against was the result of his own brain fart as Raanta seems consistently guilty of one of those per game as well. Nothing a little focus and confidence won't fix. And as he is guilty of a softy every game, you can also bet he will make a few highlight reel saves. It would seem that the possible gain from his athletic abilities far outweigh his few concerns in net. I look forward to watching him clean up his rusty spots and turn into a stellar goaltender.
Hey, Sharp scored 2 beauties! He continues to fly high, as does Keith who made that ridiculous pass to Sharp for his second goal. And since I like to harp on Seabrook when he commits his continuous crimes against hockey, I should point out that he had a very strong game. Maybe not that hard when the entire team is firing on all cylinders, but he still made some great plays last night. And BTW, he is second in the league in plus-minus. Somehow, the guy who is the biggest reason for that isn't even in the top 5, though he is close.
That brings us to Patrick Kane, who is now second in the league in scoring with 40 points in 33 games. His 17 goals are good for 4th in the league. Can I see a 100 point year from Kaner? Either way you look at it, Kane is playing the best hockey of his career, which places him right on the top of the league. I might start calling this the year of Kane, which is following a pretty darn good year for him. Adding a Gold medal to the mix, and another Stanley Cup would solidify that.
Oh, and the Hawks couldn't score on a 2 minute 5-on-3, though they saw some prime chances. They did however pickup a PP goal later and were perfect on the kill which was utilized a bit too much, especially when you are blowing the other team out.
The Hawks have a struggling Philly tonight. Another one of the many back-to-back games for the Hawks and second of three in this month. Since the top 9 forwards had low minutes last night, you would hope they have just the right mix of energy for that contest.
Filed under: Game Recap