The top two teams of the Western Conference met in front of a national audience. They combined to play a very well played and mostly very entertaining game. And hey, the Hawks came out ahead so it made it even better.
–How many kids are going to try and mimick Patrick Kane’s shootout move and hopelessly biff it? Kane’s move was absolutely filthy in the shootout to seal the win. There’s arguably three other people on the planet that could have pulled off that move. It certainly didn’t hurt matters that Niklas Backstrom was in net, he of one of the worst career save percentages in the shootout.
–If it weren’t for a blown icing call and a misguided Andrew Brunette pass at the blue line, the Hawks very well could have won this game going away. Give credit to the Wild, however, they capitalized on the the two opportunities the Hawks and the linesman gave them. The Hawks, though, were very strong in the defensive zone from the net on out.
Ray Emery was again strong in net. In particular, his rebound control was outstanding. Out of the 30 shots he faced, the only few rebounds he kicked out, the Hawks were right there to scoop up and move out of harms way.
–With every game that passes, Marcus Kruger settles any remaining questions about the Hawks lack of a second center. Other than being below average at the dot, Kruger has been exceptional. His passing and vision is really starting to show. He’s not afraid to get in the greasy areas to dig pucks out. Granted, he still sometimes gets knocked off a little too easily, but as gets older and stronger, he’s only going to get better.
His assist to Michael Frolik was a play he’s going to start be known for. Off his backhand, Kruger let off a sneaky pass that found its way through two Wild defenders and on to Frolik’s stick for an easy tap-in (or as easy as Frolik could make it).
–Nick Leddy had a bit of a struggle tonight in his homecoming. He committed a couple of unforced errors. On the Wild’s second goal, he had no idea Cal Clutterbuck was skating right past him.
These are the things that occassionally happen with a 20 year-old defenseman. So long as they happen once every couple weeks, I don’t think anyone is really going to have a problem with it.
On the flip side, Duncan Keith was a monster.
–Who turned Kyle Brodziak into Bruce Banner? Or is it the Incredible Hulk? Or is there a difference? Brodziak was a force the Hawks had problems containing at times. He was matched up against Dave Bolland’s line for the majority of the night and he gave them all they could handle.
–A bit off track but “24/7” premiered tonight. Every time I watch the show, I can’t help but imagine John McDonough sitting at home fantasizing about what he’s going to do when the Hawks are on it.
John Tortorella was pretty awesome in it, though the show made it pretty obvious why he bottomed out in Tampa so quickly.
The true star of the show was Ilya Bryzgalov. If he was an American and played anything but hockey, he would have his own reality show within 15 minutes.
Also, I loved the totally awkward embrace between Dan Bylsma and Max Talbot. There was no doubt the HBO producers set that up because Talbot and Bylsma acted like two guys who merely recognized each other from somewhere but couldn’t remember from where.