Ya know, maybe all this Blackhawk team needed was some adversity and a tough road game in Vancouver against the rival Canucks. After playing hugely important game after hugely important game last spring, the Hawks have found themselves in an odd place this October: playing measly early season games against mostly lesser talented teams. At times, the product has been uninspired hockey and the occasional five-goal beat-downs by said lesser talented teams.
On Saturday night, just off one such five-goal beat-down, the Hawks jumped out to a seven-goal lead against the hated ‘Nucks, showing once again that they are capable of playing with the league’s best teams – and coaxing many in the Chicagoland area of their rooftops – me included this time.
Rather than the blow-by-blow, let’s get right to it.
Mas o Menos
– This one started off like many others before it had. If the Hawks are truly a “puck possession” team, they’re going to have to find a way to break the puck out of their own zone with possession, rather than relying on a high-and-hard ones out to center ice. While it’s easy to understand why Nick Boyton and Jassen Cullimore might take the easy way out of the defensive zone, Ham Sandwich should, ya know, try a pass to one of his teammates along the wall every now and again. If the Hawks continue to struggle breaking the puck out of their own end cleanly, they’ll continue to struggle winning games. After all, you can’t be a successful puck possession team without possession of the puck.
– I may have to recuse myself from future objectivity concerning Dave Bolland. If I didn’t comfort myself yesterday evening with visions of post-season shorthanded goals by the Hawks’ third line center, I would have tossed my television from my balcony. Whenever you’re ready, David. And, yeah, I know he had an assist last night, but that was a mistake. He stickhandled himself into submission and lost control of the puck which accidentally found Fernando Pisani in front.
– Can we finally settle back on Patrick Sharp at center? And, can’t we just admit that Tomas Kopecky is a different player next to Marian Hossa and keep him there? Pretty please.
– What the hell was that, Troy Brouwer? Who could have predicted that in mid-November Brouwer would score in back-to-back games … to give himself three goals on the season?
– Marian Hossa came back down to Earth rather quickly, didn’t he? While it looked like he was a 50-goal candidate early on, since he came back from injury, he’s settled back into his ’09-’10 regular season mode, blending in most of each night. Now, I don’t like being critical 9 hours after a merciless beating, but wouldn’t it be nice if Hossa could play more like a top-line winger on a Cup caliber team than a young kid capable of a decent couple shifts an evening? Yeah, I appreciate his two-way play, his strength on skates and all the other intangibles that don’t directly relate to point production, but when a team struggles, someone has to be counted on to produce offensively each and every night. I’m looking the Boss.
– Isn’t it amazing that after a six-goal blow out, the one thing that sticks out to me is Patrick Kane’s wrister on the seventh goal? Honestly, how ridiculous was that shot, and how is it not one of the league’s most talked about? I’ve said it ten times before, but Kane’s shot is one of the league’s most underrated things of beauty.
– Don’t look now, but Johnny T has nine goals. Yeah, yeah, yeah, now make your line an offensive force every night.
– Last night was one of Jack Skille’s now-patented “So, I’m Probably Going to be on This Fourth Line Forever, Aren’t I?” games. The last such game was last Sunday’s game after his two-goal performance against Nashville.
– Next stop: San Jose.