It took a while, but it's finally starting to actually feel like winter. Snow is on the ground, Sam is freezing his ass off outside of Gate 3, and the Hawks are able to brush aside an inferior team with a modest effort and superior depth. Some early and late rebound issues from Ray Emery made things a little more interesting than even the scoreboard would indicate, as the Wild hardly got a sniff for the vast majority of the game, even on the advantage. Hawks 5, Wild 2, and one point closer to reclaiming the Central from the fried-ravioli mongers with their OT loss to Vancouver. To the snow-encased bullets.
- So the story is going to be Andrew Shaw and Jimmy Hayes, as it probably should be. While Shaw's goal was as soft and fluffy as the drifts outside, he's still provided energy and a bit of physicality for his diminutive stature, and as we're starting to see, a decent set of hands on his first two goals. As for Hayes, on his goal, he showed quite a bit of hockey accumen by popping out from in front of the net and squaring up to the looping around Dave Bolland, giving Bolland a target and giving himself space to pick his spot against Josh Harding. But again people, sample sizes. There's a cautionary tale with 8:15 of ice time a little further down the wrap.
- Even with that nice play, however, it still wasn't enough to keep Quenneville from swapping in Michael Frolik on the line at even strength with Bolland and Marian Hossa. The same Michael Frolik on whose tape many an offensive zone possession dies with an ill advised shot from a bad angle. I'm sure Marian Hossa was thrilled. That being said, Frolik's defensive work has been exemplary, even if he couldn't hit snow if he fell off a salt truck right now. It also came at the expense of breaking up a nice unit of Frolik, Brunette, and Shaw, which had numerous sustained possessions in the early going.
- And back to Shaw, while Fels put out the clarion call to get Shaw a nickname, how about everyone works on getting the kid a real jersey number first. As Pat Foley pointed out during the broadcast, there's only one 65 in town, and it's Patrick Damn Mannelly. Spare me your Kelly Wunsch stories. And no, suggesting "Shaw Shank" for the 87th time isn't original or clever, and that movie is emotionally manipulative schlock.
Viktor Stalberg, Professional Bum Slayer. Probably says so on his business card. If it doesn't, it should.
- While Pat and Edzo couldn't wait to toss bouquets Sean O'Donnell's way for his play tonight, which was justifiable, their assertion that he's been solid all year is simply inaccurate. But over the last couple games, he and Montador have returned to their October-ish form that bordered somewhere between "invisible competence" and "pretty decent", which is all that can be asked of a third pair.
- Pretty good time for Dave Bolland to finally wake up, huh?
- Two sets of actual defensemen on the power play points, and two goals against a decent Minny PK. I'm sure Quenneville will chalk it up to a fluke and put Leddy in front and Mayers on a point for Saturday, because these units as presently comprised don't illustrate Q's tactical geniusness nearly enough.
- Not game related, but possibly indirectly Hawks related - Mike Cammalleri was traded this evening back to Calgary for the eminently suspendable Rene Bourque, in an exchange of bad paper for bad paper. But Cammy's getting paid more than Bourque and is younger, and the Flames are already dry humping the cap. The first move in Jay Feaster's plan for life without Iggy, or a petulant move by Gauthier and the Habs after Cammalleri's comments to the always rational Montreal press? Stay tuned.
Bryan Bickell and Ben Smith with 8:44 and 8:15 played respectively, and almost none of it came when the game was tied or still in question. Four shifts a piece in the first half of the game. I hope Bickell doesn't have more than a couple months left on the lease on his apartment.
- In a game the Hawks controlled for the vast majority, Leddy and Hammer were still in the red on Corsi. This isn't going away. Those numbers also explain in Quenneville logic why Jimmy Hayes was relieved of his top 6 duties.
- Did anyone else's sphincter clench more than they'd like to admit after the Seabrook-Staubitz collision?
- It had been written here over the past month or two that the secondary scoring needed to actually start picking up some of the slack, especially now with Patrick Sharp missing significant time (though given Sharp's perennial drop-off with the change of the calendar year, it could be argued just how significant), and they've done so in a timely manner since Sharp was felled. However, far sterner tests are coming over the weekend, and Patrick Kane going back to "Fuck You Mode" would certainly amplify the lower half's of the roster's contributions.