Hey everyone. I know I promised you two posts yesterday but some unforeseeable circumstances prevented me from getting to the second post. I promise I’ll have two posts for you today, the second one coming later this afternoon.
Now onto the game because there’s a lot to talk about.
The bipolarity of the Hawks was in full force tonight and a terrible first period essentially cost them the game. The Hawks were completely outworked by the Coyotes and it cost them. Not only were they unable to generate anything offensively, but a few defensive lapses put them down two goals. They also seemed to have a deadly allergy to shooting the puck.
Despite a terrific start to the second period, where the Hawks applied lots of pressure, Keith Yandle was able to get a puck past a screened Corey Crawford, which put an end to his night. This ignited the Hawks and sent them on a rampage. Jonathan Toews had a 3-point period with 2 goals and an assist.
The Hawks were unable to cash in on multiple high quality chances in the third period and in OT. The Coyotes went on to win in a shootout.
This game shows how good the Hawks can be when they’re willing to actually give a crap and outwork opponents. They were caught flat-footed in the entire first period but came out on a mission in the latter two periods. When they raise their compete level, they can beat any team in the league offensively.
Additionally the Hawks powerplay is on fire. They are now 10th in the NHL and have been averaging about a powerplay goal per game over the past several games. Similarly, the penalty kill looks to be reverting back to how it was at the start of the season. They’re doing all the right things. It needs to continue. This whole last place penalty kill is embarrassing.
Some points on the game:
- I’m going to go on a little rant here. At this point, Jonathan Toews has to be considered the front-runner for the Hart Trophy. He now leads the NHL in goals with 17 and he’s tied with Claude Giroux for 2nd in points with 32. We all know that there are going to be games in the season where the Captain just throws his team (literally) on his back and carries them. Even though they didn’t get the victory last night, he’s the reason they came back and made it a game. Its pretty simple: without Toews, the Hawks are a shadow of what they are with him. If the Hart wasn’t based solely on points and was actually awarded to the player most valuable to his team, Toews would probably have a monopoly on it.
- The Hawks officially have a goalie controversy, which shouldn’t be surprising considering how many of them there are around the NHL these days. This isn’t a slight of Crawford, he played pretty well last night but he’s been off for a while now and Ray Emery is clearly playing better and should be getting the majority of the starts until Crawford fixes whatever is wrong. Again, this isn’t saying Crawford is lost. He just needs some time to rest and work on whatever issues he’s having with his game. (there’s a great piece on Crawford over at The Goalie Guild)
- The Hawks have surrendered the first goal in 18 of their 28 games. That is insanely bad for a team that is this talented. It also really speaks volumes to a really bad habit the Hawks have developed: slow starts. Games would go much easier for them if they showed up from the start and were able to net a few quick goals to demoralize opponents. Instead they always seem to find themselves down early and play catch-up the rest of the way. Not a good tactic.
- Viktor Stalberg really needs to start cashing in on the opportunities he’s getting on the top line. He had 2 or 3 really high quality scoring chances that he either passed up or flat out missed. Don’t get me wrong, he’s been playing remarkably well, but this is a game that demands results and if he can help put pucks in the net, he shouldn’t be on the top line.
- The only problem I have with Marcus Kruger as the second line center is is that his lack of strength impedes his board play and ability to fish out pucks from below the goal line. This is of concern because this isn’t exactly something that can improve over the course of the season. Other than that I think he’s handled the second line center job incredibly well. Defensively he’s been about as reliable as you could have hoped for and offensively he’s created some good chances for his linemate and doesn’t look out of place among elite players like Sharp and Hossa.
- Can Steve Mondator even skate? He’s blown a tire about 6 times since coming to the Hawks, resulting in a goal a couple times. Find your damn feet Monty! The Hawks aren’t paying you to fall on your ass. If this keeps up we’ll have to sign you up for some skating lessons, you’ll have John Scott as your partner.
That’s all for now. Come back this afternoon for a look at how realignment affects the Hawks.
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