I always laugh when someone out there suggests that Martin Brodeur's numbers are padded by playing behind the Mutant Secret Service that has been the Devils defense and system for his career. While that certainly helped, Brodeur is mainly responsible for his record numbers. Even in his golden years, when he can't put a long stretch of it together, he can still flash back to 1999 or 2000 for a game or two and steal one for the Devils. Can't tell you how appreciative I am that he did so again tonight.
Sure, there's stuff to complain about. The power play once again let the Hawks down, but then again that's the league's best penalty kill on the other side and under that heavy pressure a Hawks man-advantage so bereft of confidence it wouldn't even qualify for food stamps was always going to struggle. They didn't start well either, and only had Corey Crawford to thank for being in touching distance with 10 minutes gone.
But overall, the Hawks did more than enough in the final 40 that even a normal goaltending performance on the other side would have seen them put enough past Brodeur to grab the second point. But hey, sometimes you win those coin flips and sometimes you don't. If it happened in the middle of the season, it's a result you dismiss. But at this stage, with all of us not quite able to breathe easy yet about locking up the sixth seed (though the point helps and it gets ever closer), and the Blues and Preds to follow, it stings more than it should.
Then again, any point gained with Keith and Toews still in the attic...well, it's a point gained.
-I tweeted this, but I think this could be a huge game for Crawford. Only his next few starts will tell us for sure, but it's been a long time since Crow got the change to rebound from a poor start. The past couple months, when he's had a bad game he's seen Emery step in and get a run. He got the chance tonight and did very well, and looked pretty assured while doing it. Still, the last chance he had to backup a loss was after the 3rd period dry heave at home to Dallas, and then he backed that up with the facing-the-wrong-way performance in LA. So we'll just have to see.
-As you might imagine, the CORSI are radioactive in favor of the Hawks. And it's not just a matter of padding it while chasing the game in the 3rd, as the Hawks controlled things for at least the last 40. The one that pops out at you most is the second line's combined +50. While Foley commented on Andrew Shaw's game -- which was very good tonight -- Stalberg was just as impressive. 7 shots, always making things happen, just couldn't find the twine. I know that's everyone's main complaint and I get it, but whatever. Also, a perfect example of how valuable Marcus Kruger has become without the numbers to make you notice.
-Oduya had a rough first, but recovered as he always seems to do to provide a smooth presence and a calming one. And he did it over half an hour.
-I think I get the dressing 7 D part. With Montador having missed so much time, he couldn't be counted on for 15 minutes on defense, I guess. But I don't see how getting 4 minutes at forward is going to help the lungs much.
-Please scratch Brandon Bollig. I'm tired of this.
-Hossa had one of those games that have been popping up for him the past couple months, goofy with the puck and trying to much or getting lazy at times. But hey, we'll live with it if the Blues pay for it on Thursday.
-Patrick Sharp scored in a shootout? What's next, Alfonso Soriano stealing a base?
It's not to bed yet, and there are are still eels and crocodiles in the water with the schedule this week. But if the Hawks can scratch out five more points this season (and with two games against the Wild that's very doable), two of those Pacific teams are going to have to go undefeated or just about to catch them. Because if one does it, they're going to win that division anyway.