The Blackhawks won decisively last night, and not to take anything away from the solid win, but it isn't like Florida is a good match for the Hawks. The Hawks played well as was expected, and ended their little drought with a big win.
It didn't help the Panthers that they played the night before and their back-up Clemmensen got the start against a powerhouse offense, which pretty much delivered on it's expectations. One of the things that I would like to point out is that the Hawks had some good movement out of their own zone, because of short quick passes. They looked much, much better than in the past few games, and this was a glaring difference for me. We don't need stretch passes all of the time. Not only did it result in goals, but it kept everyone closer to their D-men who have been getting caught alone far too often.
Of course, it was nice to see Shaw back in action. I'm not sure we give him enough credit, and we give him a lot of credit. And, I would like to add my enthusiasm for watching Morin play. There is definitely a point to be made that he deserves to be here more than Pirri. Too bad he isn't a center, not that Q wouldn't try it.
While on prospects playing regularly, I can't help but feel Smith is keeping that 4th line from busting down. Q might be getting over-confident in them, but Smith works hard enough for everyone.
And then there is that Crawford injury that is overshadowing the whole game. Q said, it isn't terrible, but Rockford goaltender Kent Simpson was recalled today. Oh man, that Khabi deal just looks worse and worse as the season goes on. Can't say we didn't see that coming. And, the Hawks are kind of stuck here. If Crow was to remain out for a long while, the Hawks really don't have any purchasing power since the Versteeg deal was made. We got Kris cheap, but not cheap enough to afford a decent goaltender.
In steps Raanta much quicker than anyone, including himself, thought. You got to hand it to him, he handles the situation well. As a supporter of his potential, I can't say I'm overly enthusiastic about the situation. Raanta has had some rocky moments, and given up some weak goals. However, he has made some highlight saves and he's consistent. In all of his games, Raanta has given up 2 goals and sported a .922 save percentage. That's not bad at all.
The good news is that his issues are very serviceable, and have little to do with mechanics. He obviously needed more time to get used to American hockey, but let's hope he is a fast learner. Raanta has it in him to be great. Sure, his puck management skills in close are rough, but he also shows a natural skating ability mixed with good puck control outside his crease. His only issue is managing the puck, and using his stick as an extension of his body in tight situations, especially to cover his 5-hole. Throw in a little positioning concerns. But that's all that seems to be worth mentioning. Overall, he is a very athletic goaltender who is confident on his skates.
And then there is this:
Speaking of injuries, has anyone seen the debacle that went down between Boston and Pittsburgh? If you haven't, resident thug Shawn Thornton yanked Brooks Orpik to the ground from behind, sucker punched him in the head a couple of times, and Orpik was carried off in a stretcher. That is about as sugar coated as I could describe the felony Thornton committed. This came much after a hit Orpik had made on Loui Eriksson, which seemed legal, just hard. Thornton tried to start a fight at that time, and Orpik declined, as he should, because fighting is barbaric and laying body checks is hockey.
Anyway, later on in the game, Brad Marchand fell to the ice after being tripped by Crosby, and James Neal of Pittsburgh very obviously skated his knee into the back of Marchand's head intentionally. A scrum ensued at the other end of the ice, which is when Thornton decided to abuse a completely defenseless Orpik.
We are left once again watching a player carried off in a stretcher because of the disgusting antics of so called enforcers and cheap shots. Since the NHL is currently looking at a lawsuit surrounding concussions, one might expect them to attempt regulations that would keep them from looking foolish and embarrassing. Neal has already been suspended for 5 games. It is my opinion that Thornton shouldn't play hockey for the rest of the season. I also think he should face criminal charges. It was that bad.
Cut back to the Hawks game last night, when Bollig fought Florida's Barch after a hard hit on Kruger. This was the second really hard hit on Kruger, and both seemed legal to me. In fact, Kruger's attempt to avoid the second hit made it look worse for him. Okay, so here we go. Did Bollig's presence on the ice keep Kruger from getting nailed? No. I ask as I have many times before, what purpose this idea of an enforcer has in policing hockey? I'm not trying to throw Bollig under the bus, and am in no way comparing his fight with Barch to what Thornton did. But, I did take offense at the way Bollig performed like a wrestler after his fight, trying to get the crowd going. You know what gets me excited about hockey? Watching good hockey.
Again, I think Bollig has done well this season, and I'm not throwing him under the bus, but these fights are sideshows that don't belong in this sport anymore, and how neanderthal to suggest it the game more safe. Enforcers don't keep injuries from happening, they cause them. The idea that Orpik should have to fight Thornton for making a good hit is ridiculous. The idea that Bollig on the ice keeps Kane, and guy not even on his line from getting hit hard is just as ridiculous, because he can't even keep the guy on his line from getting destroyed. Because that's what stopped Torres from being a goon, right? Nope, it was regulation and a stern warning.
Filed under: Game Recap