Well, now that we can all resume our lives after International Meatball Week, let's assess what happened at brunch today at the UC. Things started out well enough, with the team that played at Joe Louis yesterday trading chances with the NHL leading Philadelphia Flyers, who as evidenced by today's display, were clearly looking ahead during their loss yesterday to the Devils, who can't even tank properly this year.
Philly curiously employed a trap with 5 skaters in neutral ice, which is counter intuitive to their personnel as well as Peter Laviolette's general coaching philosophy. The Hawks began the game dumping the puck into Pronger's corner and a few good chances came of it, but the game was still scoreless after 20.
In the second, the Hawks seemed to want to carry the puck more, which resulted in getting stood up a bit more at the Flyer blue line, though it was not what resulted in the Flyers' first goal. After a break in where Corey Crawford got caught out of his net, a mad scramble ensued where after about 10 seconds of hacking and whacking, the puck finally farted past a sprawling Crow to give Philly the lead.
Philly would score on their first two shots of the third, the first of which was the punctuation of a brutal shift from the usually steady Brian Campbell. Soupy was beaten to a puck by Nikolai Zherdev of all people, and after the puck came back to Zherdev off a bad bounce behind the net, Soupy tangled up Crawford as both were trying to meet Zherdev to the far post, but it was too late, and Zherdev put the Flyers up by two. Jeff Carter made a great play redirecting a cross-ice feed from Claude Giroux out of mid air to give the Flyers a 3 goal lead. Marian Hossa would covert a penalty shot after Braydon Coburn covered the puck in the crease, and the Hawks would put pressure on in the waning minutes, but it wouldn't be enough. Mike Richards would add an empty netter, Flyers 4, Hawks 1.
- Back to the Flyers' trap for a second. While it seemed a curious strategy, it eventually paid off, as the Hawks got impatient and stopped dumping the puck, and that's when the chances stopped. As we've said numerous times for the last few years, the Hawks need to play the game that's in front of them and not the one they think they should be able to play.
- Corey Crawford didn't look good on any of the goals he yielded and did not look as comfortable as he has in the past, but that still didn't stop him from making several key saves early on. At no point did he lose his composure. It seemed like the first two goals were the result of bad bounces, but the Flyers made their own luck.
- This was as physical a game as we've seen from Bryan Bickell in a long damn time. After his fight with Hartnell, he buried him on the forecheck not more than a few shifts later.
- Marian Hossa was an animal today, and was rewarded by finally scoring on a penalty shot at home. Sorry Muzz, you no longer get to hold that mantle, and it's been long overdue. The Hawks will need more of these types of performances from Hoss going forward.
- Sergei Bobrovsky doesn't move around a lot, and makes a lot of saves look pretty routine. It would have helped if the Hawks shot anywhere but into his chest, however.
- The Hawks got thoroughly porked at the dot. This is going to have to change if they're still going to labor under the delusion that they can be a puck possession team. Right-handed vs left handed be damned, there's no reason for Tomas Kopecky to ever take a draw if it can at all be avoided.
- That Claude Giroux is a thing, no?
- Dan Carcillo is still a dickwad.
- So are Pierre McGuire and Mike Milbury.
- With points being at a premium and the Western Conference still being a log jam, two points are an absolute must against Minnesota on Tuesday before the All Star Break.