Hawks drop preseason opener in Saskatoon

Hawks drop preseason opener in Saskatoon

Last night's 4-2 loss to the Edmonton Oilers will surely have a lot of Hawk fans panicked and confused this morning.  "How can a Cup contender lose to doze bums?"  "I don't tink dis Jimmy Toews guy is any good."  "I can't believe they let that soup guy leave!"

Relax.

The Hawks iced a lineup of mostly prospects at forward, save for JONATHAN Toews, Viktor Stalberg, Rostislav Olesz, and Jamal Mayers...and that lineup dominated the game for stretches...including a 2:30 shift spent entirely in the Oilers zone.  Yes, going 0-5 on the powerplay isn't a good thing, but get some real players on the roster, and the puck will end up in the net.

It's hard to take much away from this game (especially since I was watching the game on a choppy internet feed), but I'll give it a shot. 

A couple observations:

I like what Nick Leddy brings to the Blackhawks.  They need a guy with his skill set of speed, hands, and offensive ability on the blue line, especially now with Brian Campbell gone.  He just needs to get bigger...stronger.  More than once, Leddy was pushed around or simply knocked on his backside trying to defend a forward.  Defensemen need to be sturdy and strong on their skates.  He's not the biggest framed guy in the world, but he needs to take a page from the Duncan Keith workout guide if he's going to take the next step in his NHL career.  Will he be an All Star, or just another wiry kid who can move a little?  I think it's up to him.

Kyle Beach was absolutely invisible.  For a guy who could be running out of chances, he sure seems to not care if he makes the team or not.  The spot is there for the taking.  It just doesn't look like he wants to take it.

Jonathan Toews is good.  Really good.  He was the main reason for the aforementioned 2:30 shift in the Oilers zone.  The puck was glued to his stick.

Three prospects stood out.  Brandon Saad, Jimmy Hayes, and Phillip Danault.  Saad, once again, showed off his speed and awareness.  He seemed a step ahead of the other prospects as plays developed.  He was almost always in the right place, and good things seemed to happen when he was on the ice.

Hayes looked, well, huge.  For a guy listed at 6'6'',  221 lbs, he could move very well.  It's rare to see a forward with that size.  He had more than enough speed to keep up, and even displayed decent hands a few times.  I think he's a long shot to make the team this season, but he definitely looks like a keeper.

As for Danault, I kept finding myself asking, "Who's this #24?  He's pretty good."  Like Saad, good things seemed to happen when he was on the ice.  I first noticed him at Saturday's training camp festival.  I know Brandon Segal, recently acquired from Dallas, wore #24 there, so I kept assuming it was him.  Nope.  It was a kid with zero NHL experience.  He didn't look that way Saturday or last night.

Ray Emery and Alexander Salak played well enough.  Emery was strong early, but probably would have liked to have the 2nd Edmonton goal back.  Salak saw very little action, and stopped what he needed to stop.  The game winning goal for the Oilers came on a partial break-a-way, so it's hard to be too critical of the goalie in that situation.  I still think it's Emery's job to lose, but both guys, after one game anyway, seem to be capable NHL backups.

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