....and I don't mean Raitis Ivanans.For the first time in two and a half weeks, the Hawks had their captain and top center back in the lineup, and it showed. On top of winning 13 of 20 draws, Jonathan Toews added the insurance goal in what ended up as a one-sided (for the last 20 minutes) affair for the Hawks.
The first period started things off at a lively pace, with both teams trading chances and both Jonathan Quick and Cristobal Huet having an answer for all of them. While the Hawks outshot the Kings only by a 13-11 margin, the ice was tilted in the Hawks' favor the majority of the time. These were clearly not the Kings of last year, favoring a more wide-open attack, particularly while boasting the league's leading scorer in Anze Kopitar.
After a scoreless first, John Madden added a tally a little over a minute into the second frame on a backhand that farted through Quick's legs that was on a rush sprung on a rush by Duncan Keith and Troy Brouwer. LA answered about 8 minutes later when Kopitar found himself untouched on Huet's doorstep to pound home a rebound of a Drew Doughty shot after the entirety of the Hawks skaters had collapsed below the top of the rings. Huet made a few key saves to survive what was left of the second, before Patrick Sharp drew an interference call with five seconds left in the period.
On the ensuing power play in the third period, it was Sharp who found himself with time and space walking out from the left half wall to fire a wrist shot at Quick which Troy Brouwer tipped home. A couple minutes later, the Kings again found themselves shorthanded, and Jonathan Toews slid a backhander past quick after finding a loose puck alone in front of the LA net. Andrew Ebbett later netted his first as a Hawk after having a puck redirect into the goal off his nipple on a broken play. From there on out, the Kings never really mounted a threat; Hawks win 4-1.
- Even with Bolland out, what a difference having Toews back makes when everyone is skating (for the most part) in their proper roles
- The "Versteeg-at-center" experience lasted all of two shifts before Quenneville jumbled the shit out of the lines
- Since being called out by this blog, Patrick Sharp has once again been skating like he gives a shit when he's not on Patrick Kane's line.
- Good god, two moments of adequacy from the power play!
- It's been real nice these past couple of weeks to have Cristobal Huet's play be an afterthought to the rest of the game.
- The Hawks' defensive positioning in their own zone is really something to behold these days. At least in that aspect of the game, they're already playing like it's late May.