If the Great Ed Olcyzk graced us with his presence on Wednesday night, he very likely would have reminded everyone that 7’s were indeed wild at the United Center. Dave Bolland, Fernando Pisani, and Jack Skille all potted their 7th goals of the season. Troy Brouwer started the scoring with his 11th of the season.
This time, the Hawks miraculously kept Tomas Flesichmann and company off the scoreboard. Corey Crawford was a big part of that when he made several key saves throughout the game. He was also helped by his defense who made sure the majority of the Avalanche chances were one and done.
On to it….
–Dave Bolland looked like the Dave Bolland of playoff folk-lore. Part of the reason the Hawks are where they are is because performances like this from Bolland have been few and never in between this season. I know, it’s completely ridiculous to even suggest that part of Bolland’s responsibility is to also score more than a few times a month, but he’s not getting paid over $3 million just because he’s a defensive specialist.
Anyways, after thinking about Dave Bolland’s game probably longer than Bolland himself does, I think I’ve finally figured out why Bolland struggles to produce with high-end talent. His bread-and-butter in the offensive zone is setting up the play behind the net. Unfortunately, guys like Marian Hossa or Patrick Kane thrive on lots of movement with the puck. So when someone like Bolland simply stands behind the net waiting for the puck, they’re going to struggle to click.
The other problem with consistently setting up behind the net is it’s also the easiest formation for teams to defend against. So when opposing teams take it away, Bolland’s offense, more or less, disappears.
All that being said, if Bolland moves like he did tonight, things are going to be alright. He hasn’t skated that well through the neutral zone with the puck since Martin Havlat was on his wing.
–Much has been made about Nick Leddy’s contract status and whether or not the Hawks burn a year off his entry-level deal. With his 9th game tonight, his next game will start the clock on his contract. Assuming Jeremy Morin doesn’t play another game this year, the Hawks will have Morin, Pirri, and now Dylan Olsen starting their entry-level contracts next season. It wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world to break up a contract or two to make sure that all of their young players aren’t up for new paper the same summer.
To me, that’s kind of secondary, though, to if he can actually play at this level while his stamina doesn’t become a detriment to the team. Leddy has never played this many games at this high of a level. I don’t mind him playing 30 to 35 games for the Hawks as long as they make sure he’s not overexposed or becomes physically or mentally strained.
A bigger question will be who his defensive partner is going to be in weeks to come, assuming Leddy is here to stay.
–Patrick Kane fell in love with the spin-o-rama tonight. The first one was perfectly executed, save for the shot hitting Peter Budaj’s chest. His second came a few minutes later and Kane would have been better served cutting to the middle. The Avalanche defenseman was giving Kane way too much room and it would’ve been a point blank shot had he just dragged towards the middle.
Either way, Kane had an opportunity later when he got an Avalanche down on the ice on a 2-on-1 and I thought for sure the water bottle was going to get popped. Kane couldn’t get enough elevation though and Budaj got a piece of it.
–There’s bad marketing decisions and then there’s making a back-up goalie the star of your commercial. Degree should have just had Marty Turco in his practice jersey when they shot that commercial.