Did John Madden, Kris Versteeg, and Brent Sopel make that big of a difference that in one year the Hawks penalty kill could turn from one of the league’s best into one of the league’s worst? Last year, Marian Hossa and Jonathan Toews were a force unleashed on the penalty kill. They’re still here. So are Patrick Sharp, Dave Bolland, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook. If those departed three were so good, maybe the Hawks kept the wrong guys. (That’s meant tongue-in-cheek by the way. And before anyone tries to claim otherwise, Andrew Ladd was not a regular penalty killer last year. The Hawks rotated the aforementioned 6 forwards with those 4 defensemen.)
And just like so many other nights this year, the bounces went against the Hawks when they were down a man. Maybe last year, Mike Ribeiro’s shot hits Niklas Hjalmarsson and goes careening off the glass rather than past the goalie’s trapper. Or maybe Brendan Morrow’s deflection hits off his face and bounces into the corner rather than dropping to his feet.
My point is that often times the difference between a great penalty kill and an awful one are a few bounces through the course of a season. Unfortunately, the Hawks have got none of them this year but perhaps it’s just making things even for getting all the bounces last year.
So for the umpteenth time this year, the Hawks battled back after trailing and then pissed away at least a point by surrending a third period goal. San Jose, New Jersey, Dallas, and I can’t even remember who else right now.