It’s difficult to imagine a more even game than Saturday night’s tilt in San Jose. The teams matched each other’s shot output during the first, third and periods, and the Sharks had nine shots to the Hawks’ eight during the second period. Each team was also able to get a handful of scoring chances during regulation, and no goals were scored on the power play.
In the end, a Ryan Clowe one-timer from the top of the circle beat Corey Crawford and gave the Sharks the coveted second point, forcing the Hawks to settle for the single point.
– Jordan Hendry, ladies and gentlemen. I know some were upset over the Hawks’ decision to leave Rob Klinkhammer in Rockford, opting to essentially play two defensemen on the fourth line against one of the NHL’s top teams. Well, first, John Scott ain’t no defenseman. Second, while I haven’t gotten a great opportunity to watch Mr. Klinkhammer, I’m not sure it’s worth the trouble of bringing him out to the west coast so that he can play over someone like Hendry.
The truth is that almost anyone can play a fourth line winger role. Yeah, in a perfect world, the player would have to be able to receive a pass against the wall in the defensive zone and not crap all over himself while trying to advance the puck at least to center ice, but other than that, as we all know, with the league as watered-down as it is today, most fourths are really “energy lines.” This usually means that the line is (1) a center who can win a face-off and (2) two wingers willing to run all over the place like they’re trying to escape a burning building. Call me crazy, but Jordan Hendry can run around taking the body just as well as the next guy.
Hey, if Adam Burish can do it, so can Hendry. He deserved the goal; he played well in that role.
– With that said, the decision not to take an extra forward may have been a message from Stan Bowman to Q concerning the benching of Viktor Stalberg on Wednesday.
– A “recap” of Saturday night’s game wouldn’t be complete without a mention of Stalberg’s no-goal. In the second, a shot from the outside snuck through Antti Niemi, and the puck found the back of the net after Stalberg smacked smacked it home. However, during the time between Niemi’s initial save and Stalberg’s tap in, the whistle blew, which means that the play was dead and the goal doesn’t count. While we’re all used to this, it’s certainly difficult when our team is negatively affected by it. Ultimately, though, in theory, these sorts of rules usually have a “zero-sum” effect, meaning that the Hawks will likely be helped by the rule as much as they’ve been hurt by it. I guess that means an opponent will have a goal called back at some point this season.
– Good news is that Jonathan Toews seems to have turned a corner. While he certainly hasn’t been bad in the early-going, everyone knows he’ll have to be even better if the Hawks are to separate themselves from the conference’s non-playoff teams. He seems to have taken his game to another level since Patrick Kane’s injury, and it should only be a matter of time before that starts showing up on the scoresheet.
– Corey Crawford was very, very solid again. After the game, Q said he thought it may have been Crawford’s best effort of the year. If the Hawks think they can overcome the injuries to Kane and Marian Hossa, goaltending will be the most important portion of the formula.
– The standings have started to get more attention in the NHL now that it’s almost mid-December. Consider that, as the teams currently sit, 11 – count it, 11 – teams in the Western Conference have 33, 34, 35 or 36 points, and nine teams have either 33 or 34 points. Nine teams! With parity and shootout points, I suppose we shouldn’t expect it to change much between now and the start of the playoffs. It is, of course, still early.