I love that mask (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

Hawks 5 Blues 2: That's More Like it

 

I apologize for not having this up yesterday. I have mid-terms this week and for those of you who went to college or university, you know how painful those are. As compensation I’ll be giving you guys 2 posts today so make sure you come back.

Now onto the game.

I know I’ve been giving the Hawks a lot of crap lately but quite frankly, they deserved it. And I’m a guy that’s pretty blunt about saying what needs to be said. At the same time, I’ll give credit where credit is due and the Hawks played a really solid game against the Blues on Saturday night. It was a complete road effort that once again showed what the Hawks can do when their willing to outwork their opposition.

What was really good about this game is how the Hawks got progressively better as the game unfolded. They were okay in the first, better in the second and great in the third. Moreover the Hawks responded to the Blues in a positive way opposed to falling into their trap and getting lured away from their gameplan. Instead they matched the Blues intensity and physicality and used their superior talent to eventually win the game.

I’m going to keep this post brief so I can get to work on the afternoon post.

Some quick points:

– The win in St. Louis means the Hawks are 5-1-1 in the second of back to back games this year.

Marian Hossa possesses that rare and unique ability to take a game over. Very few players in the league can dominate at both ends of the ice like he can and while we’ve seen very little of it since he came to Chicago, we’re seeing it in full force now. We’re witnessing the best hockey Hossa’s played since he’s been a Hawk and its very, very fun to watch.

– In my last post I called for Niklas Hjalmarsson to be traded. And while I stick by this assessment, he needs more games like this to repair what is a bad reputation with this fanbase. He was solid on Saturday.

Ray Emery needs to get more starts. He was really sharp tonight and considering how less-than-stellar Corey Crawford has been, it might not be a bad idea to go to the backup for a couple games and give Crawford a break to sort out whatever problems he’s having. A lot of teams have done that this season.

– I’m not one to ever complain about officiating, but those refs sucked.

– The Hawks’ powerplay has jumped from 30th all the way to 11th. The way they’ve been trending with the man-advantage, they should end up with a top five powerplay by seasons end.

– The penalty kill looked a lot better. The Hawks did a good job of not allowing easy entry into the zone, pressuring the puck carrier and getting in shooting lanes. They need to do more of this. They’ve been averaging almost a powerplay goal against per game over the last few weeks. Very difficult to win like that.

This game was a huge improvement over some of the lackadaisical efforts the Hawks have given the last few weeks. Jesse Rogers made an interesting point over at ESPN Chicago that the pattern emerging with the Hawks is that they’re getting up to play tougher conference opponents, but throwing away points against lesser opponents with poor efforts. That was one of their problems last year and it needs to be addressed.

The Hawks will try to get some payback against the Coyotes at 7pm CT tonight. I’ll be back later this afternoon with a “Hawk Thought” and tomorrow with some post-game comments.

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Tags: Chicago Blackhawks Marian Hossa Niklas Hjalmarsson Ray Emery

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