At some point this season, the Hawks will be able to comfortably win a game. So long as they keep winning, though, it shouldn’t really matter how they do it. In Minnesota, the Hawks were let down by a couple defensive miscues. Tonight, Corey Crawford helped leave the door open with a couple of questionable goals in the final frame.
Calgary’s fourth and final goal was aided and abetted by Crawford taking a hellacious angle on Jarome Iginla’s shot from the right wall. Crawford doubled his problems when he kicked out a giant rebound to Rene Bourque who was more than happy to score his second goal of the game. Just like that, a fairly comfortable 5-3 lead with less than five minutes left became another nail-biter.
If it weren’t a brilliant defensive play by Brent Seabrook a minute later when he tied up Alex Tanguay with a wide open cage staring back at him, the game very likely would have gone to overtime. That was Calgary’s best shot to tie it and the Hawks actually had a good handle for the final two minutes of the game. Marian Hossa’s empty-netter finished off any overtime opportunities.
–The ‘Jonathan Toews for Hart Trophy’ drums are starting to beat louder and louder. He still has a bit of ground to make up on frontrunners like Steven Stamkos, but if he keeps up this pace there’s no reason he can’t be a finalist. With two more goals tonight, Toews is playing the best regular season hockey of his career. I certainly can’t remember a Blackhawk playing more dominant hockey for this long in my life.
–Michael Frolik finally got off the schnide with a goal and two assists. His first goal as a Hawk came from him crashing the net and picking a puck out of Jake Dowell’s skate. His shooting percentage had dipped all the way to 4% before tonight’s game.
With his previous track record, it’s the equivalent of a career .300 hitter in baseball having a season where he hits .230 because his BABIP is below .200. Unfortunately, there’s no hockey sabermetric stat that measures bad luck.
Perhaps Frolik said it best, “Puck go in, I feel good.”
–Dave Bolland is really a force to be reckoned with on the power play when he gets the puck along the goal line. That was some kind of pass he made to Brian Campbell for the Hawks third goal. With a chance to just fire the puck towards the front of the net or force a pass towards the middle, Bolland calmly waited for the passing lane to open up. It did and Campbell didn’t miss.
–If Ryan Johnson could stay on his feet for more than five seconds at a time, he might be pretty productive. It’s too bad his skates have two outside edges.
–I would be stunned if Marty Turco doesn’t get a start this weekend. Crawford is starting to slow down a little bit and with two games against lesser Eastern Conference opponents, it would be a good time to give him a blow.
–Pat Foley still has no idea Henrik Karlsson has taken over for Mikka Kiprusoff.
–No one said professional hockey players moonlight as brain surgeons. In the second period, Corey Sarich attempted an ankle tackle on Jonathan Toews to prevent a 2-on-1 that would make Charles Woodson proud. Of course, a big reason why you don’t see other guys try to do that is because they enjoy having skin attached to their face. Sarich was incredibly lucky not to have a serious facial laceration as the blade of Toews’ skate brushed across his face.
–Let me stop anyone from saying the Hawks lack a ‘killer instinct’. First of all, I hate that phrase. Second of all, it’s just another way of saying “I have no idea why my team struggles at important points of the game.”
The last two games, the Hawks have been victimized by slow starts to their third period. Allowing a goal in the opening two minutes completely changed the complexion of the period. Instead of being able to play comfortably with the lead and getting their legs into the flow, they’re left scrambling from the start.
It cuts both ways too. Teams with playoff aspirations aren’t just going to roll over and die because they’re down a few goals.
I suppose this is much ado about nothing anyways. In both games with the lead, the Hawks ended up winning so it doesn’t really matter. The best way to prevent the game getting too close is a strong opening five minutes of the period. That’s it.