With plenty of Hawk fans still demanding answers as to why the front office didn’t improve their goaltending, it looked like a full-on riot was set to take place Wednesday night halfway through the second period. After facing only one shot 15 minutes into the period, Cristobal Huet allowed two goals on three shots and the Edmonton Oilers were suddenly winning a game they had no business even skating in.
Alas, this is the Edmonton Oilers and no matter how well their goalie is playing, they’ll make enough mistakes to let you back into the game. Two minutes after taking the lead, Marian Hossa picked off an errant pass and slipped a pretty pass across the crease where Dave Bolland stood all alone.
In the third period, the Hawks took it out of first gear for the first time all night and left the Oilers in the dust. Ham Sandwich started the festivities with a slap shot from 60 feet out that found its way past Devin Dubnyk. Dustin Byfuglien chipped in his second power play goal in as many nights a few minutes later. To close out the scoring, Jonathan Toews eluded around an Oiler defenseman at the blue line and then ripped a wrist shot through Dubnyk’s legs. That was that.
Toews and Patrick Kane each have four points in the two games since the Olympic break.
There’s not really a whole bunch to say about the game, in general. The Oilers blow and the Hawks are infinitely superior to them. So we might as well get on to the bigger issue of the day.
—Ah yes, that whole trade deadline thing. After acquiring Kim Johnsson and Nick Boynton, most of the moderate lifting was done prior to Wednesday’s deadline for Stan Bowman and company (And really, after seeing some of the names that changed hands, there wasn’t a whole lot of heavy lifting being done, either). That won’t stop Hawk fans from complaining about their lack of activity, specifically at the goaltending position.
As my partner pointed out in Tuesday’s recap, while the Hawks were certainly exploring any and all options to upgrade the position, the reality of the situation likely prevented any dreams of Tomas Vokoun or Dwayne Roloson dancing through their heads. With the Hawks up against the cap this year and next year, the only way they could take on salary was finding some team willing to take on Cristobal Huet’s contract.
What about sending him to Rockford for the rest of the year and thus clearing room for Vokoun, you say. Well, the omnipresent Dave Morris reminds us all about that whole “tagging” issue. Regardless of where Huet finishes this year, the fact that he’s playing on a one-way contract still puts his cap hit in the 2010-2011 books. With Vokoun still signed for another year, that would put the Hawks significantly over next year’s cap. So there’s one option down the drain.
Why couldn’t they just trade him, you bellow. Plenty of blame to go around on that one. Most of it should probably fall on Huet’s shoulders as he’s the one the most responsible for his recent poor play but Joel Quenneville certainly deserves some blame in the matter. When the Hawks swept through Detroit and a home and home with Nashville at the end of December, they essentially locked up the division.
Instead of just rolling with the punches and living with Huet’s inconsistencies, Quenneville turned one question mark into two. With Antti Niemi playing well over his head, he decided to let the rookie sink or swim on a team that had a double digit lead in the divisional standings. Not surprisingly, Niemi sunk like a stone but because he won a few shootouts, he was allowed even more rope.
So when everything crashed spectacularly against the Islanders, Quenneville basically painted Bowman into a corner he had no way of getting out of. Save for some team swooping in and taking a goalie with a $5.625 cap hit off his hands. The same goalie who hadn’t started a game in nearly a month because of his head coach’s desire to get two points against the Atlanta Thrashers in the middle of February.
So in a couple months from now, if someone keeps insisting to you about how Stan Bowman blew it with his lack of deadline activity, feel free to give them a little refresher course on the inner workings of the NHL salary cap and how keeping the faith in your veteran goalie is more important than making sure you win a game against an inferior Eastern Conference opponent during the dregs of the regular season. Or you could just roll your eyes and agree with them.
–I also enjoyed how the Nick Boynton acquisition was painted in some corners as a precursor to a bigger deal, specifically the Hawks shipping out Brian Campbell. Yup, the same guy who barely played his way on to a mediocre Ducks team is here to be the Hawks 3rd defenseman. In case you forgot over the Olympic break, Brent Sopel is not exactly the model of health. Oh, and by the way, he was a scratch tonight. So no, Boynton never was a precursor to a bigger trade. He was who we thought he was, defensive depth, something the Hawks had very little of per a few weeks ago.
*On the Farm*
–With three new players on the roster, the IceHogs turned a 2-1 deficit into a 3-2 win over the Lake Erie Monsters. Bracken Kearns, Evan Brophey, and Bryan Bickell were the goal scorers. Kearns also added an assist. Corey Crawford stopped 19 of the 21 shots he faced.
—Kyle Beach had no points in Spokane’s 3-2 loss but he did have 6 penalty minutes.