Outside of about ten sloppy minutes to begin the second period, this one was never in doubt. Even without Patrick Kane (flu) and, of course, Brian Campbell, the Hawks were way too much for the lottery-bound Jackets, who looked even worse than I expected they would – and I was sure they would be bad.
The game was essentially won in a 63-second stretch midway through the first when Viktor Stalberg and Marian Hossa gave the Hawks a two-goal lead. Stalberg’s goal was particularly impressive; he absolutely blew by two Jackets in the neutral zone to create a quasi-breakaway for himself. When he found himself in front of Jackets goalie Steve Mason, he beat the ‘tender with a little wrister.
Early in the second, R.J. Umberger capitalized on Hawk sloppiness on the power play, cutting the lead to one. His goal came from behind the goal line where he banked it off of a sprawled Marty Turco and into the net.
The Hawks would recover, however, midway through the second when Patrick Sharp notched a shorty of his own. Sharp came in on a two-on-one with Jake Dowell and made the only sane decision – leaving Dowell out of it. His neat little wrister beat Mason low to the far side. My favorite part of the score was Eddie O’s post-goal analysis: “I know Jake Dowell gets an assist on this goal, but I’d give him two assists.” Not sure if Eddie O watched any of Dowell’s other shifts, but the last thing he deserves is extra points. We’re all lucky Dowell managed to stay on-side while Sharp carried the puck into the zone. Given that he did, I guess I’d give him three assists on that one.
Sharp scored his second of the evening about two minutes later, and Tomas Kopecky added a fifth at the beginning of the third period to ensure the Hawks could coast through the third. We’ll do the same here.
– There’s been a Troy Brouwer sighting! Brouwer played well in action with a scoring line – usually with Sharp – and even added a very nifty assist. Though Foley and Eddie O didn’t mention it during the telecast, it seemed to me that Troy Brouwer purposely banked a low shot off Mason’s pads from a poor angle to Sharp in front. Sharp, of course, slammed it home to give the Hawks a second two-goal lead. Nothing anyone could say right now could make me believe that Brouwer doesn’t deserve a chance to cement himself as a top-sixer during the early-going.
– Kopecky has been blasted by fans a bit during the first couple weeks of the season, but let me say that I think he’s played very well. Kopecky understands his role – a glorified bowling ball on a line with two legitimate superstars – and, so far, I think he’s executed it nicely. It finally paid off with a goal on Friday evening. Good for him. Now if we can only get Brouwer in that same role on the second line.
– Stalberg and Jack Skille were again electric, this evening playing along side Dowell. The line had one heck of a time clearing their zone all night, however, and Dowell was absolutely no help. With Stalberg and Skille each being pretty weak along the wall, they need a center who doesn’t crap himself everytime the puck touches his stick inside his own blue line. During a four-second stretch in the second, Dowell managed to give the puck away twice in his own zone, even though no one was within 15 feet of him. And, let’s not even get started on his face-offs.
– If someone sees Fernando Pisani, tell him the season has started.
– I think we haven’t seen the last of Jassen Cullimore. Cullimore played last night like he realized the Hawks were in need of a dependable third-pairing d-man. I’m not sure whether it’s good news or bad, but he could best be described as a poor man’s Brent Sopel. Perhaps that’s bad given that Sopel’s already a poor man. Cullimore played nearly 20 minutes last night, and I assume we’ll see more of the same tonight.
– I think it’s safe to say that the Hawks’ goaltending situation won’t be an issue. Both goalies have looked fairly strong early on, and boy, is Marty Turco fun to watch. He’s really something of a throwback with a style that isn’t pure butterfly, and his red pads make him one of the best-looking Hawk goalies since Ed Belfour or Jeff Hackett. (His mask could use a little toning-down, but I’ll leave that alone for now.)
– It’s no secret Duncan Keith has been all over the place in the early-going. His big problem seems to be the lack of simplicity to his game. What made him so good last season was his propensity for making simple plays in a simple way. So far he’s already filled his cross-ice-own-zone or backhand saucer pass quota for the season. Keep it simple, stupid.
– Tonight might get wild. The Sabres have spent the latter half of this week getting thier door blown off, and they ain’t happy. Throw in the whole Sandwich debacle, and I think we’ll meet the real John Scott tonight. Will he please stand up? That’s not to mention that the last two Hawk-Sabre match-ups are each among the five most entertaining regular season games the Hawks have been in during the last year or so.
– I’m going to see Jackass 3 this afternoon, and I couldn’t be more excited. I’m not quite sure what it is about those loveable dousche nozzles, but I enjoy them very much. In hindsight, I remember feeling crushed when I learned that Steve-O was on drugs during the group’s heyday; much like I felt when it became widely known that Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa were on ‘roids during the 1998 home run chase. I’m not saying I turned a Bud Selig shoulder to the early Jackass years, but I wanted to belive so very badly that it was all real. Knowing they were on performance-enhancers rocked my world. I guess next time I watch someone give his own eyelids paper cuts, I’ll ask “how.”
– Yes, I’m still alive. I’ll talk at you tomorrow.