To anyone out there, beat reporters included, who at times bemoan the "effort" and "heart" levels of this Hawks team at times as if it's actual analysis of what's going on, the next time you plan on doing so, please go back and watch this game and observe this incarnation of the Washington Capitals. THAT is what a team that doesn't give a shit looks like. If it's possible to tune out and quit on two different coaches in one season, the Caps are certainly taking a solid run at it.
Since that new thing they tried in Dallas of jumping on a team early worked out so well for them Friday, the Hawks were pretty much all over the Capitals from Jump St. (and apparently that new movie is supposed to be a lot funnier than it has any right to be, but I digress...). With the Hawks controlling pretty much all of the play early, it was a leaping Andrew Shaw who had a puck graze off him and past Michael Neuvirth, ever so slightly redirecting a Duncan Keith shot, which actually got through. Holy shit indeed. Shortly thereafter, Viktor Stalberg absolutely torched Dmitri Orlov up the right wing boards and cut across a down and out Neuvirth and slid the puck past him to give the Hawks a 2-0 lead once again before the opposition even had a shot on goal. Tonight it would take Washington about 13 minutes to register their first shot, and only managed 3 total in the opening frame.
Things didn't change much in the second, until yet another biffed clearance/breakout from Niklas Hjalmarsson ended up on the tape of Keith Aucoin, who slid the puck into the slot to Mike Knuble, whose shot eluded Corey Crawford, suddenly making things a lot dicier. The Hawks responded well, with a beautiful passing sequence from Hossa, Brunette, and Kane, which culminated in Kane having an entire 6 x 4 to shoot at, and Andrew Shaw notching his second to make it a 4-1 game. The Caps would have one last death yawp in the form of Alex Ovechkin pantsing Duncan Keith and beating Crawford, but it was of little import. The Hawks shut things down from there on out, and only allowed 7 shots on goal total in the third, which included a Washington power play. Bryan Bickell would add an empty netter to ice things, capping a three point night for both himself and Shaw. Hawks 5, Caps 2, bullets below.
- Patrick Kane was everywhere tonight, in full on Fuck You Mode. While there were some times he passed up shots in attempts to make a slick play, he was electric on top of being defensively responsible. Somehow he ended up in the red in both +/- and Corsi, which is curious, and certainly belies the eye test.
- Viktor Stalberg only scores against Columbus. Oh hey, look who's next on the schedule.
- Yes, the Ovechkin goal was certainly highlight reel worthy. But Dunc has to poke check that away, and Crow can't cheat to the middle anticipating a cut over by Ovechkin, especially with Seabrook (edit: It was Leddy. Whoops.) back and helping. While the goal wasn't soft per se, it was certainly preventable, with both parties sharing equal amounts of culpability.
- And the Knuble goal was pretty soft too. While 2 points is 2 points, that game could and should have been DLR worthy were it not for Crawford having a relatively off night.
- The Capitals outhit the Hawks 26 to 13. Someone let Foley know as soon as he's conscious again after yesterday.
- Once again, only one penalty taken. It seems the Hawks' best option for the penalty kill is just to not have to use it, even if they didn't allow a shot on the Caps' lone advantage tonight.
- Did Alex Semin even play?
- I think Andrew Shaw just attempted another toe drag.
- After the game, it was a very nice gesture from both teams to congratulate retiring linesman Dan Schachte after 30 years in the league. It appeared there were some heartfelt words from a few of the veteran guys on both squads with Schachte, as well. Believe it or not, these guys are co-workers, and relationships do develop over the years, and job well done by all involved in expressing appreciation.
- This game brought back fond memories of this team brushing aside struggling competition with ruthless efficiency of seasons past. There's another opportunity to do so Tuesday night in Columbus, so long as the Hawks don't get caught looking ahead to Wednesday's date with the Nucks on West Madison.