This time, the Hawks didn’t let two points slip away to the Panthers.
Nursing a 1-0 lead going into the third, Viktor Stalberg scored in the opening minute and that was essentially it. Patrick Kane added a goal eleven minutes later on a change-up shot that found its way past Tomas Vokoun. Then five minutes later, Marian Hossa, Michael Frolik, and Tomas Kopecky combined for a picture-perfect 3-on-2 passing play to finish off the scoring.
The only drama after that was whether Corey Crawford would hold on to the shutout. He did and the Hawks won a game they absolutely had to. That’s all that really matters.
In Case You Care To Know What I’m Thinking
–The Hawks defensive corps and Corey Crawford tried their best to give an easy goal to Florida. Numerous times with the puck behind the net, there was miscommunication between the defense and Crawford which led to glorious chances for the Panthers. It wasn’t just one guy, either. Everybody took turns; Brian Campbell, Chris Campoli, Duncan Keith, Niklas Hjalmarsson. I’m sure somehow it’s Marty Turco’s fault.
–Ah yes, the long-awaited debut by Marcus Kruger. Fine, whatever. He just flew halfway across the world, is still probably operating on Swedish time (whatever that might be), and was put between the sucking life-force of Bryan Bickell and Troy Brouwer. Welcome to the NHL.
The call-up of Kruger, I have no problem with it whatsoever. There are a couple things that annoy me about it, though.
The first one is this instant rush by some people who watched some of his scoring highlights on YouTube and decide to compare him to Henrik Zetterberg. Of course, he’s Swedish, a late-round pick, so obviously the natural comparison is to a future Hall-of-Famer. No pressure there, kid. Go get it.
It’s one thing for guys like Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane to be compared to legends of the game before they ever suit up in a NHL game. They were top picks and stuff like that comes with the territory. But for a 5th round pick to have expectations like that thrust upon him before 98% of Hawk fans even knew of his existence is silly beyond comprehension.
(Quick side note: I’m also tired of guys with the same nationalities getting compared to each other. It’s like in basketball or football where only white guys can be like other white guys.)
Also, just because the Hawks braintrust said the plan all along was to bring Marcus Kruger over, that doesn’t suddenly justify all of the various hiccups they’ve been guilty since the trade deadline passed. If that’s the case, then Kruger better be one of the greatest players in NHL history. Otherwise, I don’t see how we can all of a sudden forgive their past transgressions so they could wait until 10 games were left in the season to call up a 20 year-old from Sweden with no NHL experience.
Another thing to beware of: the Blackhawk spin-machine is going to be full systems go with each positive contribution made by Kruger. Much like we were beaten over the head every time Nick Leddy made a saucer pass or deflected a shot and then treated to silence any time he’d make a glaring mistake, it will be the same thing for Kruger.
I don’t watch pre or post game shows (it’s scientifically proven to be bad for your health) so I don’t know what was said there, but Pat and Eddie were surprisingly mum on Kruger for the majority of the night. It’s probably because Kruger didn’t really do a whole bunch to warrant their attention.
–Is anyone really that surprised Anaheim and Dallas went to overtime?
–With Patrick Sharp on the shelf and Dave Bolland still foggy, the Hawks forward lines are just a hodge-podge of mediocrity and downright awfulness outside of their top line and Marian Hossa. Thankfully, their defensive unit seems to be back to 100% which might be more important anyways. If these last three years have taught us anything, it’s that the Hawks thrive on their defense to kick-start the transition game.
So long as Chris Campoli and Brent Seabrook still make gorgeous 60 foot passes, Brian Campbell can push back the opposition with his rushes, and Duncan Keith keeps jumping up in the play, the Hawks will be able to weather their injuries.
Winning a playoff series without those two, well that will matter on who they’re playing.