Black (Magic) Ops
Stacking wins. Dave Wannstedt used to swear by it. The NHL's co-leader in points and games played did just that in it's last two games.
Things got off to a shaky start in the first as turnovers were the name of the game. Sharp et al were responsible for several giveaways in the opening frame, but Ray Emery was up to the task of keeping pucks out of his net. The Hawks took advantage of the clean slate provided by Razor to take an early lead as Sharp intercepted a Mark Giordano pass in the neutral zone and fired a shot on net. Kiprusoff kicked out a rebound which got by Carcillo in the slot and ended up on the blade of Duncan Keith, who slapped a knuckler in from 40 feet.
The second period was all Hawks, outshooting Calgary 11-6 and creating a handful of quality scoring chances. The Hawks cashed in a much needed insurance tally on a Seabrook powerplay blast through a Toews screen. The Hawks played pretty air tight defense until halfway through the third when Patrick Kane lost a faceoff and lost track of Olli Jokinen, who floated into the slot after the draw and buried a Giordano feed top shelf. The Hawks didn't allow many quality chances from there on out, and Stalberg added a bit of breathing room late in the period as he drove hard to the net and found a beautiful Hossa dish on his tape for a tap in goal. Kane added an empty netter from Sharp, and we're on to Sunday night to see what this Oilers team is all about.
I'm your huckleberry
- Patrick Sharp had a very strong game, and not just because it was a three point night. If we turn a blind eye to the two early turnovers, we can focus on Sharpie's performance on the forecheck. While he's not always the team's most active or aggressive forechecker, Sharp attacked the puck on several occasions in tonight's game, and made plays that he hasn't made since the first week or so of the season. More of this, Shooter.
- The CORSI numbers are generally solid, with the exception of the fourth line. Rusty, Bruno, and Mayers got worked over by their counterparts. A CORSI of +10 and +12 for Kostopoulus and Jackman in just over 10 minutes of ice time? Woof.
Steve Montador had a pretty brutal game, but instead of realizing that skating with John Scott could rattle any defenseman, I'm guessing that Q will scratch Monty in favor of OD and we'll have to suffer through moar John Scott. Here's to hoping that Monty's presence on whatever it is that the 2nd PP unit is supposed to be will keep him in the lineup, but somebody has to get scratched to make room for the 6'8" lucky charm, am I right? To be fair, John Scott wasn't a complete disaster tonight, but even on his good days, he does nothing on the ice that OD or Lepisto can't do better.
- Ho hum, just another 2 point night for Marian Hossa. You're so money, and I can't even tell if you know it.
- Norris. Trophy. Form. Duncan Keith had it tonight. Ever notice how Iginla has some very unnoticeable games against the Hawks? Nothing like vintage Marlboro 72 to hold Tanguay and Iggy to two shots combined.
- I'm told that Lee Stempniak plays for the Flames, but I'm going to need two valid forms of ID to verify.
- Bickell and Frolik's CORSI numbers are decent, and they (along with Kruger) did a nice job against the Stempniak-Byron-Smith line, but they can still be frustrating to watch in terms of offensive zone decision making. Too many times tonight, Fro and Bicks fired bad angle shots and centering passes toward the net with no one even in the zip code of the blue paint. While Edzo always says that it's never a bad play to get the puck to the net, I can assure you that it's ok to cycle the puck until an actual scoring chance occurs.
- Let's just pretend that Kane's wrist shot in the third snuck under the cross bar, and that the empty netter never happened, because we all know that's what he's doing anyway.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
I could hear an argument for Duncs on this one, but I'm giving it to Razor. Emery made several key saves early on, which kept the Hawks in the game and enabled them to take control after the 1st 20 minutes. Ray-Ray's bagged 7 out of a possible 8 points in his 4 starts; it's time he got his due.