Westward Bound: Hawks sweep weekend set with Alberta

If we can take just one thing away from this weekend, it’s this fact: The Hawks have two top lines that the middle to lower tier Western Conference teams cannot match up with.  When just one of them is on their game, there’s roughly a 95% chance the Hawks are going to walk away with at least one point in said game.  The Hawks took all four points this weekend when they faced a struggling Calgary Flames team and an upstart (but ready for its regression) Edmonton Oilers.  Both teams simply couldn’t contain the firepower the Hawks are currently sporting on their top two lines and defensive pairs.

When the Hawks get the Bolland/Kruger line firing and their defense is jumping up in the play, that’s when they’re truly one of the top teams in the league.

–It’s been quite the week for Steve Montador.  He added two more goals tonight, one of the highlight variety and one of the power play variety.  You have to give credit to Joel Quenneville and Mike Kitchen for taking the gamble on the move and it working.  However, (and this may be a stretch) I feel like the success has more to do with every one on that unit understanding their role and playing it to perfection.  Marcus Kruger is the puck-carrier and distributer; Montador is the net/slot presence; and Andrew Brunette is doing his thing around the goal line.  As opposed to the Hawks top unit which is a mish-mosh of stars all trying to do the same thing.  Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa are both trying to carry the puck and move it around; Jonathan Toews can’t decide if he should be in front of the net or to the side of it; and Patrick Sharp just hovers.

Again, perhaps it’s a far too simplistic view but with each goal that the second unit scores, it begs the question why the top unit can’t.

–Edmonton may have been considered the top defensive team because of their goals against but anyone with a rational hockey brain can look at Nikolai Khabibulin’s start and realize that’s the reason why.  It’s not because Ladislav Smid and Andy Sutton discovered the secret of how to play defense.  Khabibulin won’t keep his save percentage at 96% and his goals against will rise over 2.  Then Edmonton won’t be the top defensive team in the league and we can all move along with our lives.

–A six-game set across the west coast of Canada and the U.S. awaits the Hawks.  They generally play their best hockey in Vancouver so maybe it’s a good thing the trip starts there.  A .500 trip (especially if they’re without Bolland and Brent Seabrook) would suffice and anything better than that is gravy.

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9 Responses to Westward Bound: Hawks sweep weekend set with Alberta

  1. rich Lindbloom says:

    Khabby certainly is a big part of the goals against, however I read recently that the Oilers are averaging 9 more blocked shots per game over last year. They played the Bruins, Wings and Hawks within 4 days. That’s not exactly the middle to lower tier teams in the Western conference.

    While I thought the Hawks put forth a very good effort last night, I doubt that I was the only one hoping the Hawks would score their 6th goal last night before Edmonton scored their fourth.

  2. BobbyJet says:

    There’s no question that those top 2 lines are formidable. Perhaps the best in the NHL as top 6 go. The cycle game of the 1st line is particularly impressive and Hossa is obviously healthy – and with Kane playing center on the 2nd line, he owns the ice when he gets rolling. Right now at least, it seems Q has finally hit the jackpot after all the juggling he has done to find the best fits. Having said that however, it’s hard to say if it was the Hawks that were strong this weekend or the opps were that weak; probably a combination of both. Oilers record appears out of whack based on their poor defensive play we witnessed and Flames appear as a frustrated team that can’t seem to score goals.
    Canucks will be a good test Wednesday and I agree, .500 or better on this road trip will be good enough.
    Hopefully the Hawk management staff will spend the next few practices revamping the system of the special teams. A good start would be to replace Kruger when it comes to taking face-offs. It’s killing the PK unit in particular and Canucks have arguably the best PP in the business.
    I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Monty Orr. After an auspicious start with this team, it is great to see him playing well.

  3. leer3388 says:

    John Scott certainly looked servicable and is looking better every game. I am sure now that I said that the shots will come!

  4. dominator says:

    Scott had a couple of decent passes last night too but I’d be wary about playing him on the road without the last change to protect him from other teams top lines.

  5. JM says:

    uh, Walking Dead thoughts?

  6. John says:

    My suspicions were correct on the barn. Not that anyone who has read the comics was really surprised to learn of that revelation. However, I’m still currently disappointed with how much time is being wasted on Sophia being missing. At this point, there needs to be a massive payoff for why it’s taken this long. Even if they found her by now, they could still have the same group dynamics that they’re currently wrestling with. They have all the guns; it’s not like Hershel can do or say much when he asks them to leave and they refuse.

    Also, I was thinking this morning that it would be kind of cool for them to at least spend a few minutes showing just how Sophia survived the last few days (assuming she’s alive and I’m 98% sure she is.) But that’s a lot to ask for a child actor, specifically one that people couldn’t pick out of a lineup.

  7. Otter says:

    So where can I cash in my “Nick Leddy will lead the Hawks in ice time before the Blue Jackets get to 10 points” ticket?

  8. BobbyJet says:

    The good news is that Seabrook is traveling with the team, and haven’t heard the status of Bolland…. but I expect both Bolland and Seabs to play in Vancouver, if at all possible.

  9. feyer says:

    Olesz on waivers…

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