In hindsight, wasn’t it easy to predict an end-to-end barn burner on Saturday evening in Atlanta? Well, that’s exactly what we were treated to – not to mention the two points the Hawks strangled from the Thrashers. With three ugly goals scored by the Hawks on the night, it’s easy to make the argument that “this is the kind of game the Hawks needed.” I’m not going to make that argument, mind you, but it’s easy to make given the circumstances.
The first half of the first period saw the teams trade sloppy/soft goals on the power play, as Nik Antropov and Jonathan Toews each scored goals that maybe shouldn’t have been. Then, with just a few minutes left in the frame, Patrick Kane corralled a bouncing puck just outside the Thrasher crease before he roofed it over the former Chicago Wol(f) Andrej Pavelec.
The second period was reminiscent of 1980s hockey, as the teams combined for six scores. When the dust settled, the Thrashers had made up a goal, with the score tied at four. The most noteworthy goal was the Thrashers’ fourth, which came just a handful of seconds into a power play. On the play, Antropov, Andrew Ladd and Rich Peverley came in on a 3-on-2/3-on-1 thing, and with Brent Seabrook flying through the slot doing snow angles on his back, played tic-tac-toe with the biscuit in front of Turco. The puck moved from tape-to-tape very quickly, and after its stop on Peverley’s stick, it hit the twine.
Overtime came and went, and may God strike me dead if there are many things more unbelievable on an ice surface than Jonathan Toews in the shootout. I won’t even tell you what I’m doing in the privacy of my own home while Toews is picking up the puck at center ice. (It involves ice cubes, a dull butter knife and no pants.) Anyway, he and Stalberg scored in the shootout to give the Hawks their third win in eight games. Stalberg shot fifth.
Listen to This
– Say what you will about Nick Boynton, but whenever he’s able, he’s the first player to come to the rescue of a teammate in distress – even if it’s someone like Jordan Hendry. While Boynton may not be a favorite on web sites and message boards like ours, I have no doubt that’s not true among his teammates. And, really, what could be more important? (Other than actual skill, of course.)
– The defensive zone coverage and breakout are still not anywhere near where they need to be. Maybe Coach Q can figure out a way to keep his team on the ice for longer than 15 minutes soon in order to address these real concerns.
– Everyone admires a good shot blocker. Hey, it’s a dangerous job, but someone needs to do it. But, Ham Sandwich has taken to covering his face while turning sideways to blocks shots. How much longer do we have to wait to see Sandwich on a TSN highlight package getting danced around while genuflecting with his eyes covered?
– Speaking of shot blocking, is there any doubt Jeremy Morin has never slid to block a shot before, or that he will never do it again? It’s scary any time a player is obviously in that amount of pain. Let’s hope it’s no more than a nasty, nasty bruise. That’s why I’m not a big fan of the slide-block; Morin’s lucky it didn’t get him in the face. He came back out on to the ice after leaving, but didn’t look happy.
– Dustin Byfuglien led all Thrashers in ice time with almost 25 minutes. He’s certainly still a work in progress, but there’s little doubt in my mind that, if he was ever going to develop as a d-man (still not quite sure why anyone would want him to, but that’s a different issue), he was going to have to do it some place other than Chicago. Too big a spotlight here.
– Patrick Kane looked interested and fast; tell your friends. Kane played so well, Foley actually uttered the phrase, “Kane’s got it goin’ on!” toward the end of the second. Oh no you di’n’t.
– Jack Skille played 11 minutes. It’s becoming very clear that one of Q’s most important jobs this season is getting Skille productive ice while making sure he progresses in the defensive zone enough to become a top-nine guy. So far, not so good. While it seemed just a couple weeks ago that Q may have had bigger plans for Jackie S., it’s starting to look like that’s not the case. He’s just too fun and too electric to let sit for 50 minutes a night. Good to see him get a few shifts late, though.
– If there’s such a thing as reincarnation, there’s no doubt I want to come back as Frederick Modin. I’ll eat cereal and watch chick flicks by day and then play really uninspired hockey by night. Seriously, name one thing that guy has ever done. I said it last year, and I’ll say it again: 10% unemployment in this country, and that guy has a job. Unreal.
– Brian Bickell. OK, seriously, make it stop.
– Viktor Stalberg, ladies and gentlemen. He’s incredibly raw – which, in hindsight, is likely what led to some discontent concerning his play early on – but isn’t it a great sign that he has somehow figured out how to wiggle his way on to the score sheet anyway? While he definitely doesn’t have the skill his new linemates do, he seems to have a nose for the net, and he doesn’t shy from the tough areas.
– The Bears/Dolphins commercials during the telecast were great. As if anyone cares.
– Patrick Kane’s smoking of Johnny Oduya during the second was humorous. Foley said it was likely the biggest hit of Kane’s young career – in fairness to Oduya, he (a) never saw Kane coming and (b) likely didn’t expect Kane to even try to hit him – but I vaguely remember Kane blowing someone up a couple years ago against – I think – the Ducks. Anyone else remember that too?