Our long national nightmare is at last over.
Though the Hawks did catch a break before the puck even dropped with Biron starting, from the word "Go" this team finally appeared as though it had had enough of what has been transpiring for nearly four weeks. Daydream Nation and Sharp were buzzing on their first shift, which led to a net scramble which led to Dan Girardi covering the puck in the crease, and the Hawks were awarded a penalty shot. Jonathan Toews was the obvious choice to take it, and went five-hole for an early lead as if there was any other option. Thankfully, the foot only got heavier on the accelerator after that point, and goals from Nick Leddy, Patrick Sharp, and finally Marian Hossa made the game 4-nothing before the Blueshirts knew what hit them.
While the Hawks didn't mount much of a threat from there on out, and the PK put in some excellent work, killing all 7 Ranger advantages, beggars certainly cannot be choosers, and the Hawks walked away with two points for the first time in nearly a month. Though he was backstage in the Garden's green room going through the bowl of M&M's, unfortunately, DLR would not hit the stage this evening. Perhaps it's better that way, I don't think any of us could have taken that sensory overload after being deprived. At long last, your victorious bullets:
- Though the Rangers put 24 shots on goal, half of them were in the 3rd period, when they finally got desperate. That doesn't mean Corey Crawford didn't have to make some key saves, which he did for the first time in what feels like an eternity. Not coincidentally, Crow was visibly deeper in his net, and roamed far less and allowed the puck to come to him. The rebound control probably could leave a little bit to be desired, but a stable Crawford obviously goes a long way.
- Similarly, the penalty kill has tightened things up quite a bit as well. Changing the scheme back to a traditional "box" alignment from their triangle + 1 set up where the two forwards were stacked in the slot has allowed the killing forwards to simplify their assignments and angles, and get by with more pure hustle with their stops and starts. These last two points are intertwined not only in their direct effect on Hawk success, but also in how inexplicably goddamn long it's taken for them to happen.
- John Scott actually did something vaguely positive in screening Biron on the Leddy goal, and then went out of his way to give the Rangers back the momentum with his double-dip of dumb dick penalties. He didn't have a shift after the 3 minute mark of the second. The only question remaining about his uselessness is the degree - will the stupidity outweigh whatever perceived good luck or toughness he brings enough to keep him out of the lineup going forward? I wouldn't bet on it.
- Marian Hossa with a goal and an assist, Jonathan Toews with a goal and an assist, Patrick Sharp with a goal, Patrick Kane with an assist, Blackhawks win. These things are not coincidence.
- So the Andrew Shaw thing has to be done, right? A reaching penalty, an blown assignment on the Staal goal, and the puck hitting him in the face in the third period is the first time in a month he's touched it and hasn't turned it over. Michael Frolik and Brendan Morisson must be thrilled to be sitting behind Shaw and Scott.
- Sami Lepisto continues to offend the sensibilities of no one with a brain. Yes, there will be occasional mistakes, but he's a third pairing defenseman, it'll happen. He hasn't gotten anyone killed and that's all you can ask.
- Nick Leddy looks far more assured after a few games with Brent Seabrook, and likely more importantly, away from Niklas Hjalmarsson.
- The power play is still fucking clown shoes. 4 on 3, 4 on 2.5 (broken stick), 5 on 2.5, 5 on 3, and no one running a point can move laterally? This still needs to change.
- It feels good, doesn't it? Now go get another one, men. Sorry, but I'm just greedy like that.