I’m going to keep this short so I can get to work on a post regarding trades for tomorrow.
Last night the Blackhawks went up against a struggling, desperate Sabres team that had lost 9 straight on the road. However, Quenneville warned that this was a game that the Hawks needed to be careful in, as you never know how desperate teams are going to come at you. The gameplan was simple: have a good start, push the pace, win battles and don’t give the Sabres any confidence.
It wasn’t hard to see the lack of confidence in the Sabres’ game and the abundance of confidence in the Hawks’, who were the much better team throughout the game. They wanted the puck more, they had the puck more and they made Buffalo pay for errors (see: stupid Leino drop-pass) Aside from a defensive breakdown that led to the first Sabre goal and a bad penalty by Jimmy Hayes and some poor lateral movement by Crawford that led to the second goal, the Sabres didn’t have much life at all and completely folded up shop after Marian Hossa scored.
Overall, it was a great game for the Hawks and a well-deserved victory. Its really nice to see scoring come from all over and see players like Dave Bolland, who really needed to get going, starting to find the scoresheet. Its equally as optimistic to see guys like Shaw and Hayes, not just scoring, but playing the way they are and makes things more interesting for management when deciding who to bring in (if they even feel they need someone anymore)
The win moved the Hawks back to first in the Central Division and the Western Conference (which definitely will not hold up considering how insanely tight the standings are) They are now 4-0-2 in their last six. Thank you Andrew Shaw.
- The kids continue to establish themselves on this team, particularly Twitter sensation Andrew Shaw, who had a goal and an assist last night. Its obvious from the 20-plus minutes of ice time in nearly every situation that Q is madly in love with this kid, so unless he pulls a “Bickell” (its my new phrase for someone who flat out sucks) then I would expect to see him stick with this team for the rest of the year. Jimmy Hayes had a great game too, aside from the penalty he took trying to fight Kaleta. He finished off a terrific feed from the Andrew Brunette and then fed Dave Bolland a beautiful between-the-legs drop pass. Despite what most bloggers and beat writers are saying, I think Hayes has a really good chance of sticking as well. He has the finish they want and the size they need. Sure his skating needs work, but for a guy that size, he can move. The Hawks have been looking for a big net presence since Byfuglien left. Maybe Hayes can be that guy. Play him with Brunette and let him learn from the best.
- I was really, really hoping Jonathan Toews would get the hat trick. That would have really made my night. Still, even without the hatty, Toews was dominant as usual (did you expect anything less?)
- Corey Crawford was good but not great. The second Buffalo goal was on him. He was way too slow getting over. And once again he gave up some fat rebounds right into the slot. But he was good enough to prevent the Sabres from getting any more, made some good stops and got the W. Can’t ask for more than that.
- Overall I thought the defense was really good aside from a couple of breakdowns. They’re really starting showing signs of improvement. No question this has something to do with Nick Leddy’s decreasing minutes. After averaging well over 20 minutes for most of the season, Leddy has been under 20 in 4 of the last 5 contests and isn’t seeing as much time on the penalty kill. I give full credit to the coaching staff for making that adjustment.
- That disallowed goal was infuriating. If the goal was disallowed because of a hand pass and not because the ref lost sight of the puck and intended to blow the whistle, how does Toronto not overrule that? I agree with the idea that they should scrap the “intent to blow the whistle” rule (because honestly, how is it possible to even tell when the ref “intended” to blow the whistle?) and make every goal that needs another look reviewable. This will help prevent crap like this from happening.
- If you haven’t read some of the “ShawFacts” on Twitter yet, do it right now. If you don’t have Twitter, make a Twitter account and look it up right now. Seriously. Some of them are hilarious.
I’ll be back tomorrow (or later tonight depending on how much I get done) with an update on some trade rumors I’ve been chasing down, along with some thoughts on the trade situation in light of the emergence of Shaw and Hayes. Thanks for reading.
P.S. Andrew Shaw doesn’t bleed blood. Andrew Shaw bleeds greatness #ShawFacts