Solid goaltending, great defense and balanced scoring were how the Hawks beat the Ducks last night. And that’s how it should be every night. This was the complete effort I’ve been waiting to see, a game where everyone contributed and the team as a whole played terrific. We hadn’t seen one in a long time.
The Hawks pretty much dominated the game from start to finish and didn’t give the Ducks much of anything to work with. Whatever powerplay’s they gave them they killed off, whatever shots the Ducks mustered Emery steered aside and Hiller really didn’t give his team a chance.
What’s special is not the victory but how the victory was achevied. It wasn’t accomplished by outscoring the opposition (which has been the trend this year) or relying on top-end talent but it was a victory by commitee, with everyone taking part, doing their jobs and outworking the opposition.
Let’s no get too excited. It is the Anaheim Ducks, who are currently second last in the league. But a win like this should really give the entire team some momentum going forward.
Some quick points:
– Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa have been lighting it up together. They’re each riding some pretty handsome point streaks right now. Sharp has an 8-game streak where he has 12 points. Hossa has a 5-game streak in which he has 8 points. Now the extent to which their success is a result of playing with Marcus Kruger is difficult to determine. The numbers would say not much. He only has a goal and an assist in his last 8 games. Sharp and Hossa have largely been creating their own chances and Kruger has been playing well, he certainly hasn’t been feeding them tap-ins. But eventually Kruger’s vision and skill should start to have an effect and as long as that line keeps producing, it won’t get touched. That might just buy Kruger enough time to start putting some ink on the scoresheet.
– Speaking of Sharp, his goal last night was spectacular. Just shows you that there’s a warrior behind that handsome face of his.
– The ice-time numbers were much, much better than they were during that 4-game OT streak that Hawks had going. Keith and Seabrook were both under 24 minutes Kane, Sharp and Hossa were all under 20 minutes. However, Toews still had 21:20. Even for a #1 center that’s a bit much in a 4-1 hockey game. Let’s not wear out the Captain now Q. I have a feeling we’ll be needing him later.
– The powerplay continues its ascension up the leaderboard. After going 1-for-3 the Hawks’ powerplay sits at 7th in the NHL. However, despite killing all of their last 19 penalties, their penalty kill still sits at 27th.
– Ray Emery had another really strong game and continues to tug the starting job away from Corey Crawford. I have no problem with this. The best goalie should play. When Crawford gets another start, he has to prove that he really is “the guy”. If he doesn’t, hand the reigns to Emery and let him take over for the season.
– I thought it was very classy of Toews to apologize to Emery after the game for essentially costing him the shutout.
– The Hawks are now 6-0-1 in December and are tied with the Minnesota Wild for the NHL-lead. Merry Christmas everyone.
I’ll be back later this afternoon with some thoughts on the Hawks’ goalie situation.