If we learned anything from this weekend, it was that a human stomach cavity is pretty easy to rip open for a zombie and if the Hawks ever get Steve Montador and Niklas Hjalmarsson healthy, they will have one excellent defensive corps.
Sure, the Hawks were probably quite fortunate to escape with two points out of the Joe on Sunday but after a 9 game losing streak saw nearly every bounce go against them, it was nice to see things go their way. The Wings hit three posts during the game and none were of the fluke variety. They were all big point blank shots that beat Ray Emery clean but were just a bit outside. The Hawks made the most of their opportunities and it meant another enormous two points for them.
The big story from the weekend slate of games, though, has to be Johnny Oduya. Joel Quennevillle seems to be a coach that is all about first impressions and Oduya’s Blackhawk career could not have started better for himself. After a shaky first period against Toronto, Oduya has settled down and in 2 and 2/3 games has become the solid number three defensemen the Hawks have longed for. Here is where I mention the extremely small sample size, but it’s equally important to remember that Quenneville’s rope for Oduya becomes longer with each passing game.
And that is probably the biggest obstacle Oduya will have to overcome. Steve Montador has spent the majority of this season trying to wipe Joel Quenneville’s memory of his subpar pre-season to no avail. These three games (and each passing good game Oduya strings together) will serve as Quenneville’s base-line for Oduya. It’s going to take a hellacious fall to Earth for Quenneville to lose that confidence in Oduya now.
The defensive pairing’s minutes in Sunday’s game are, however, not a blueprint for success. Sami Lepisto and Dylan Olsen combined for 10 minutes of ice time as neither saw more than a shift in the third period. Other than Jonathan Toews’ health, the biggest if for the Hawks has to be one of either Hjalmarsson or Montador (or both if we really want to get greedy) returning from their concussions. With those solid five defensemen, the Hawks will have a defensive pairing that will be able to match up against any of the top Western Conference teams top 3 lines without sacrificing Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith to the gods for 30 minutes a night.
–I’m convinced with each passing day that Patrick Kane will become this generation’s Scottie Pippen. Pippen was often criticized for not being Michael Jordan by the media and fans. Of course, he was also one of the top 50 players of all time and perhaps the greatest defender of his era. Patrick Kane is often criticized for not being Jonathan Toews and is perhaps on his way to being one of the best American-born players of all-time.
Kane came off a game in Ottawa where he easily could have put up a Sam Gagner if Corey Crawford was the opposing goalie. He was again very solid in Detroit scoring his third goal in four games. I wonder what old, overpaid goof Hawk fans can fantasize about acquiring next year when Kane struggles.