Luckily, the Men of Four Feathers beat LA, otherwise I would've been forced to do this on the heels of the team's first four game losing streak since the 2008-2009 season. Let's get to it then, Atop the Sugar Pile VI.
The Terrifying Lows
- Hustlin' on Six Figures- It's been a rough go for everybody's favorite fourth line of Skille-Dowell-Stalberg, not necessarily on the ice, but in Q's doghouse. Stalberg has spent his fair share of games in "time-out", and these past four games have seen Skille and Dowell both knocked down a peg with a Stache-Healthy-Scratch. We get that these boys need to make good decisions with the puck, but my goodness, Q is so quick to the open hand of justice that we're thinking about putting in a call to DCFS. All kidding aside, we heard Edzo gush over the play of the 6 Figure Hustlin' Line throughout the entirety of the Anaheim game, and he wasn't wrong to do so. When the team is at full strength and that fourth line is assembled, they've done nothing but terrorize teams with their speed on the forecheck. It's the 21st century Q, I hear positive reinforcement is the in-thing.
- Toewsless Draws - Watching the Hawks lose faceoff after faceoff while Captain Marvel was having his shoulder rebuilt (hopefully like the hand of a Skywalker), was painful. Things got so bad with Bolland and Sharp that Q felt his best option, with the game on the line against San Jose, was to send out Tomas Kopecky. Yep, the same Tomas Kopecky that Greg Wyshynski recently made the poster boy for futility at the dot. So many important draws were lost cleanly when Tazer was out, that I considered taking up a collection to buy the kid one of those hypobaric chambers that Hines Ward sleeps in.
The Dizzying Highs
- The Man Advantage - This past week featured another four powerplay goals, and the top ranked PP unit in the league looked particularly dangerous against the Kings. At times this season, the team's solid conversion rate seemed like smoke and mirrors, but Kitch and Q may have something with the all-hands-on-deck approach that we saw last night. In Kane, Toews, and Hossa, you have three left-handed playmakers who can work the puck along the half wall or assume the position alongside the net. While there is no real net presence, having Kane, Toews, and Hoss out there at the same time makes for a less rigid powerplay structure, and allows for some creativity in puck movement. As uneasy as many of us were at the initial throught of a forward on the point, Sharp has really settled in there, and is 4th in the league with 9 powerplay goals. Unlike Dunc and Soup, who can get adventurous out there, Seabs is content to take what the defense gives him. Whether it's a pass across to Sharp for a one-timer, a simple chip to Kane on the half wall, or putting a shot on net when there's a lane, Seabs is making the right reads. As long as this first unit doesn't get too cute, it should continue to work. Or maybe I'm just happy that the other Slovak dude isn't out there playing with his head down.
- The Thunder Bay Shooter - and no, I'm not talking about any of those Staal brothers. Not everything from Sharp in the past week was great, specfically his dreadful numbers at the dot when we needed him to step up in Toews absence, but Shooter did provide a 5 point week. Games like the one against LA make me think to myself, "where would this team be without dat der Canadian heartthrob?" Sure, Sharpie is still lugging around a -10, but all he's done is stay healthy and continue to score goals. His 5 game winning goals are good for third in the league, and had last night's late parade to the box not occurred, Sharp might be sitting on top of the league with 6 GWGs.
The Creamy Middles
- Soup-a-loop - They're not saying "Boo" they're saying "Sooooup." Ok, so maybe there are still some meatheads booing Brian Campbell, but at least it makes it easy for you to identify those folks who don't know what they're watching. Simply stated, when the Hawks stay out of the box, Brian Campbell has been a minutes-eating force. Soup's 13 points in 28 games might not be Dustin-Byfuglien-cover-me-cuz-I'm-goin-in numbers, but he's not getting 1st unit powerplay time, and that +13 looks awfully nice when compared to Marlboro 72's combined minus 11.