Here’s all you need to know about the Hawks final leg of their annual Circus road trip: They played well enough to win all three games. Coming off a previous weekend where they looked like they’d never played together before, it was a pleasant turn of events.
In San Jose, the Hawks were unable to capitalize on four golden opportunities: a Bryan Bickell breakaway, two Marian Hossa semi-breakaways (only one of which he hit the net on), and Dave Bolland completely biffing an empty net on the power play. So they ended up losing 1-0 in an otherwise very well played game.
In Anaheim, the Hawks were able to overcome some shoddy goaltending from Corey Crawford and Jonathan Toews turned into a demon spawn from hell in between the second intermission.
Finally, in Los Angeles, the Hawks were fortunate enough that Trent Hunter completely biffed his own empty net opportunity. So perhaps everything evened itself out.
–Two years ago at this time, (supposedly) the only thing holding back the Hawks from the Cup was their goalie. Regardless of what was happening in front of him, Cristobal Huet was always to blame. Even after he played an occassional solid stretch of games, it was accompanied by a “Yeah, but….”.
I mention this because Corey Crawford finds himself in a similar stretch of games where if he was a big name free agent signing, there would be hand-wringing from here to Saskatoon.
The difference, of course, is that Crawford isn’t a free agent signing. Since he was a product of the Hawks farm system, though, he apparently is exempt from being blamed. Suddenly, instead of being a city of goalie experts, everyone has become a master at defensive positioning.
On this road trip alone, Crawford cost them the game in Calgary and nearly cost them the game in Anaheim. That would have been enough for a civic emergency two years ago.
–While Patrick Kane has been better than anyone could have imagined at center, his line is still giving up the lion’s share of opportunities against on the road. In Los Angeles, there was at least three times when they got stuck out there against Anze Kopitar’s line and were lucky to not get stuck with a minus on the shift.
It seems like the secret is out and opposing teams are doing whatever they can to get their top line against Kane’s. This isn’t an indictment; most teams try to do this. The problem lies when Dave Bolland’s line gets equally housed as it did in Alberta. As we have said from the beginning of this year, it seems like as goes Bolland, so goes the Hawks. And for a guy notorious for disappearing for long stretches, that is a frightening proposition.
–Marcus Kruger had an outstanding road trip. By the third period in Anaheim, Joel Quenneville had moved him to Dave Bolland’s wing and kept him there in Los Angeles. He is much stronger on the puck than he was just a couple months ago and his soft touch passes are finding holes instead of opposing sticks. Sure, he’s probably not the next Henrik Zetterberg but he’s probably not the next Christian Ruutu either.
–“The Walking Dead” completed the first half of its second season on Sunday as well. I will say for as bad as the search for Sophia dragged the story down, the finale was a very good payoff to that search.
I’m hoping this episode was finally the turning point for Rick. He doesn’t have to be Shane(generally a total psychopath) but he doesn’t have to be a Southern gentleman at all times either. This is the zombie apocalypse for crying out loud, who cares what the old man at the farm says, do whatever you think is right.
As the group leaves the farm (which I fully anticipate happening when the show picks up in February) I’m hoping the show doesn’t follow the comics in the group’s next move. The best part of the first season was how dangerous every moment seemed. At the farm, there was never that impending sense of dread. A good stretch of open road traveling should make the show as popular as it was a year ago. Also, they could stand to lose a couple members of their current band of survivors (Sophia’s mom, who I’m not sure has a name, has to be number one on that list).