The Josh Harding story is tremendous and to be able to play to the ability that he did without any preparation was truly remarkable. Harding and the Wild are the enemy in this opening round series of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and the Wild orchestrated their game plan almost to perfection outside of the final score. The Hawks survived game one but they need to make some adjustments. Playing the part of Coach Q from my armchair outside of his favorite word in pace, and the interview word ugly here are my top 3 adjustments for Friday night’s Game 2 showdown.
1. Shoot anywhere but glove side and storm the net
Harding may have bobbled a few with the glove, but his glove hand was a major reason the Hawks only scored once in regulation. Both goals went threw the five hole and everything glove side was kept out of the net. Fire away but make him move to make saves where he isn’t as comfortable on the stick side. Wherever you shoot the puck the Hawks need a better net presence. Harding left a lot of rebounds in Game 1 and the Hawks weren’t able to capitalize on any of them. Get to the front of the net on any shot and good things will happen.
2. Make the Extra Move or Pass
Normally when watching the Hawks one of the things you can criticize them for is over passing. The Hawks in their quest to keep it simple and get pucks on net were being nullified by blocked shot mania versus the Minnesota Wild defense. The Wild understand they aren’t at the talent level of the Hawks so they kept everyone back especially after the Cal Clutterbuck goal and played defense especially blocking shots (21). Friday night the Hawks need to either make the extra move and get the Wild player down and out or make the extra pass to set up a teammate.
3. Improved Passing
I’m not sure if it was opening night of the playoff jitters or the long layoff between games, but the Hawks passing was really unacceptable for most of the game outside of the combination of Johnny Oduya‘s pass off the window to Viktor Stalberg‘s pass to set up Bryan Bickell for the game winner. The Hawks pride themselves as a good puck possession team, but they were their own worst enemy at times from accomplishing their goals because passes weren’t just off a hair they were way off which led to more Wild puck possession and their players controlling the tempo of the game.
The one thing I thought the Hawks did a tremendous job at was finishing off checks from Bickell standing up people to Andrew Shaw throwing his body around to even Viktor Stalberg using his speed to create havoc on the 2nd line. .
What do you think? What adjustment would you make for tonight’s game?