All's well that ends well, right?
Needing 2 points to salvage a .500 roadtrip that saw pretty much every unlikely outcome and game type imaginable in the span of two weeks, it's a bit comforting to see things settle in as they're supposed to at the end with a tense, low-scoring affair in L.A. against the Kings, who the Hawks have now taken 21 points of the last possible 22 from. Andrew Brunette opened the scoring early with his first even-strength tally of the season, completing a nice wrap around after shaking the suddenly-bad Willie Mitchell below the goal line. The Kings themselves managed only minimal insurgence against the Hawk D, who throughout the game forced numerous mental errors by the Kings in the neutral zone, resulting in several ill-advised offsides and icing calls. After all was told, though, the Hawks managed about as perfect a road 1st period as could be hoped for, and led 1-0 after 20.
While in the second there was certainly more piss and vinegar shown from the Kings than in the first, their only goal came off a completely unforced error from Duncan Keith (who otherwise had an excellent game), and everyone's favorite trade bait Jarrett Stoll capitalized on a shot that Crawford probably should have had. The game wouldn't remain tied for long, though, as the Captain once again put it out on the table for everyone, slam-dunking a rebound of a Keith shot off the endboards at the near post to give the Hawks a lead they would not relinquish.
As for the third period? Well, due to WGN's satellite issues, it was probably a shockingly accurate portrayal as to what the game is like through the eyes of Pat Foley. I think there might have been a last Kings push or two, but it was probably whistled offsides. Either way, Corey Crawford had a nice bounceback effort and made the saves he needed to make. Hawks 2, Kings 1, and a .500 Circus Trip in the books.
- The 2nd period also featured a hilariously botched 2-on-0 from the far blue line in from Patrick Kane and Viktor Stalberg, who shanked a goal-mouth one-time pass from Kane, resulting in no shots on net for the opportunity. While, yes, Stalberg does have to at least get SOMETHING on that shot if the pass comes, I'd like to see a bit more bloodlust from Kane himself on that opportunity, as he's been known to pick a spot or two even coming down his proper wing.
- Did Dustin Brown even play last night?
- Willie Mitchell got beat badly below the rings by Andrew Brunette on the play that ended with Bruno's goal; bad enough that he even tried to rope him down and still got beat, as the delayed call was going to be on Mitchell (who has 4 inches and 30 pounds on Brunette). While that may be more of an illustration how little Mitchell has left, it certainly shows exactly why Brunette is here. He's a joy to watch when he's below the rings,and was a big reason why the Hawks controlled the play from that area the majority of the game. Just please don't make him do anything in transition.
- For as vaunted as the Kings blue line is supposed to be, they certainly conceded their own blue line quite a bit last night, particularly to Patrick Kane, who had time and space to pull off his favorite move of curling and waiting for a trailer. While the Kings didn't get burned by it last night, giving players like Kane that time and players like Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa 7 shots a piece is not a recipe for long term success. Though it does make Jonathan Quick about as under-appreciated as any goalie this side of King Henrik.
- John Scott skated at forward ahead of Dan Carcillo and the beat writers' golden child, Ben Smith. While I still disagree with even his presence on this roster, perhaps the lone purpose he does serve is as an 80-inch tall wake-up-call when he skates ahead of someone. It''s a very risky way to manage a game day roster, especially on the road, as there's always the chance that Scott gets caught out there against someone that's going to blow by him. But, this tactic could very well be the case with Carcillo, who has gotten away from hitting everything in sight on the forecheck, and is really the only way he's useful.
- Bryan Bickell, however, has been a little bit more physical in his last two tilts, however, even if his shot selection hasn't changed at all.
- Speaking of shot selection, Michael Frolik doesn't really work on any line other than Bolland's, at least until he starts taking higher percentage shots. When in the top six, he's taking opportunities away from far more lethal finishers (such as 81, 88, 19, and 10) with bad shots from the corner. For a team that wants to possess the puck the way the Hawks do, too many trips to the opponent's zone end coming off Frolik's tape.
- Good bounce-back game from Crawford, even if he really should have had the Stoll marker, which clearly caught him off guard. It certainly helped things that his defense was competent, and the Kings aren't the most creative bunch around the net in their efforts to get Crow moving laterally. But the fact remains that the results were there last night, and it's what the Hawks need from him going forward.
- Hey, the PK didn't get beat at all!
- So the trip ends at 3-3-0. After the Edmonton game two weeks ago that saw Brent Seabrook leave, this was pretty much the consensus as to what would constitute an acceptable trip. But due to the manner in which the Hawks lost in Alberta, it certainly doesn't feel like that. All the trip has done is it's put the Hawks in a position to further entrench themselves in the top half of the west with a home-heavy upcoming December and January schedule, and I suppose that's all you can ask for.