The Hawks were coming off a record breaking game, where emotions would have carried even the most tired player through.
But Sunday's game, reeked of a possible let down, and it almost was. Everyone knows what Columbus brings to the table, and it's not much, but the Hawks LOOKED like they were evenly matched and didn't look terribly interested in proving otherwise.
Since the record, I have grown more and more concerned that the Hawks will be going through a slump some time this year and the longer they seem to keep the streak going the more worried I get that this slump will come at the worst time for the Hawks, during the end of the year and into their playoff run.
But that's down the road and we can't spend all year thinking of what-ifs, sometimes you just have to enjoy the ride.
And with that smooth segway, one guy is definitely enjoying a smoother ride this year and has quieted critics on this site on others. The Swedish Meatball, Niklas Hjalmarsson.
Hjalmarsson seemed to struggle more than a 4th grader trying to spell his last name last year and a lot of fans were calling for him to be shipped out claiming he was overpaid for a back-end defender. But I always saw the upside to Hjammer maybe it's because of our shared swedish roots or my love for his Ikea commercials but I think Niklas is going to be a solid 2nd line d-man for a long time (maybe even a 1st liner on some teams).
He still hasn't shown that he has a scorers touch but to me that's not his game and if that's what your looking for from him, you're going to be disappointed.
Hjammer is a stay at home d-man who is going to take a lot more defensive zone starts than offensive but is going to lay down and do everything he can to help stop the other team from scoring. This was apparent last night with blocking almost a third of all blocked shots by the Hawks last night with 6.
I feel like a broken record but the biggest thing contributing to the Hawks success is the role players stepping up and finding their place on this team, it seemed like more than a few guys struggled last year finding their niche but this year every line seems to be gelling which gives your top-tier guys more room to breath literally and figuratively.
Hjalmarsson was also a +/- 1 and played over 5 minutes short-handed last night.
Honorable Mention: Patrick Kane who was second behind Duncan Keith in TOI last night with 22:29, Keith played 22:53. And Marcus Kruger, I recognized Fro so I better recognize his other half, even though they were split last night, for 4+ minutes short-handed.