I apologize for not having this up yesterday. I was feeling under the weather and was not in a good state of mind for writing. This just means you guys get two posts today.
The Hawks played an excellent road game on Saturday night against the Kings. The offensive firepower may not have been there (they probably used a little too much of it the night before against the Ducks) but it didn’t need to be because the defense and the goaltending were.
I was very impressed with how the Hawks began this game, especially considering the flat start they had against Anaheim. The Hawks came out with energy and were able to grab an early lead off a scramble in front of the net that led to a wraparound tally by Andrew Brunette.
The second period saw things open up a bit more, with quality scoring chances at both ends, including a 2-on-0 with Patrick Kane and Viktor Stalberg, which Stalberg so characteristically whiffed on. The Kings had some good chances, including a goal by Jarett Stoll that Corey Crawford probably wishes he could have back. But that wouldn’t last long. Jonathan Toews (who has taken matters into his own hands lately) scored an open-net goal after a puck rebounded off the end boards.
The Kings really came alive late in the third period (unfortunately WGN’s broadcast did not… what the hell was up with that?) Some defensive breakdowns led to some great scoring chances, but the tending of Crawford helped preserve the Hawks’ victory.
It might surprise you to know that this was the first game this season that the Hawks won when they only scored 2 goals. That doesn’t exactly speak wonders about this team’s defense. The Hawks have been far too reliant on outscoring their opponents to win hockey games this year. Efforts like this demonstrate that they are capable of winning games with good defensive efforts as well.
Scoring has never, and will never be a problem, be a problem with this Hawks team. The problems this year all revolve around defensive deficiencies. Winning low-scoring Games like this one will have to become a habit if they want to finish atop the Western Conference and go deep in the playoffs.
Some random thoughts:
– Jonathan Toews is playing at the level he was playing at last winter when he had 37 points in 26 games. When he’s at this level, the rest of the league needs to watch out. I’m just saying, you’ve been warned.
– This is the defense the Hawks should be rolling every night. Even in a 2-1 hockey game, Duncan Keith only played 25 minutes. All three pairings were solid tonight. There’s no question that the return of Brent Seabrook has really stabilized the defense in more ways than one.
– As much as I hate saying this (and I really hate saying this) but John Scott looked okay on the fourth line. He had a few hits and his line in general had some good shifts in the first period. If Quenneville insists on playing Scott, I’d much rather he play on the fourth line than on defense. I’m sure most would agree.
– Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa aren’t at the level they were at a few weeks ago. I’d like to see more from them.
– Is it just me or is LA not nearly as good as they were hyped up to be? Quick was outstanding but where was the elite forward depth? Where was the powerhouse defense? If you ask me, the Kings won’t be a huge threat to the Hawks this year.
I’ll be back later this afternoon with thoughts and analysis on the Circus Trip, what we learned from it and how the Hawks can get better.
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