Apologies for the late and what is going to be a brief wrap, as we've got a preview to write very shortly.
Last night's game was closer than it had to be, but a win is a win, and giving up the extra point to an Eastern Conference also-ran is not that big a deal, particularly with the Sharks losing last night. But say this for the Thrash, they play some entertaining ass hockey. They're basically Buffalo South, and it's refreshing to see coach John Anderson have enough latitude and confidence from upper management to coach his system and let his players play it, rather than coaching for his job from game to game and trying to trap the life out of teams.
So as far as the scoring, Antti Niemi got beat to his post by Jim Slater, a miscast point man Patrick Sharp fluttered home a power play goal, Kim Johnsson made us all say "Cam Who?", Marian Hossa scored a beatiful shorty, then Johnny Oduya beautifully set up Evander Kane. Maxim Afinogenov beat Duncan Keith to the outside and Niemi clean, Tobias Enstrom buried a slapper on a power play that was the result of a retarded Tomas Kopecky penalty. Dave Bolland dangled his way around Ondrej Pavalec and tucked home the equalizer. Toews with the lone shootout goal. Hawks win and show the kids from Georgia how it's really done. Everybody gets a marker.
- The hit on Hossa was clean ("Head was down!"), and it seemed like he skated off under his own power and wasn't overly loopy. But he probably won't play today, and not playing in the Olympic tournament probably isn't the worst thing in the world. And no, Tim Sassone, the Hawks do not now need a goon.
- After seeing him live, I'm ready to call the trade from Thursday an unequivocal win for the Hawks even in the short term. Johnsson is way more mobile than I'd noticed before, and far more mobile than Barker. It seems like he was so used to the shackles of the Wild's brand of hockey, that being unrestrained in this system truly astounded him.
- Once again, Daydream Nation and Sharp were the best line on the ice by a huge margin. CORSI numbers are once again hard-on-inspiring.
- Sam and I were talking during one of the breaks regarding Atlanta- if they had just one truly defensively responsible d-man, that corps would be something. Theoretically Zach Bogosian is that guy, but he's 19 and his name isn't "Drew Doughty", so he might be a long way off. But if he comes around, look out.