If the Bears needed guidance on how you deal with your oldest rival -- one that has its share of injuries, to carry out the symbolism even further -- the Hawks laid it out for them this afternoon. And they laid out the Wings, and I don't care what condition their lineup might be in, it always feels pretty damn good from where I sit. Good kickoff to the weekend, no?
Though a 3rd period prevent will make the shot totals and game look a little more even than it probably was, the Hawks were full value for their 4-1 triumph. They carried most of the play for the first two periods, were smart (only in the box once) and Crawford rarely had a rebound chance to deal with. Sure, they got a couple breaks, but I'm often told when we lose that you make your own luck, so I'm going with that today. If this is the team that's going to finish out the season, well, it could get very enjoyable indeed.
If you want bullets, you got it!
- I asked for the Hawks best players to show up today, and all of Hossa, Kane, and Toews will show up on the scoresheet. What am I to do with these powers? While we can still get more from them, Kane was especially active today, once again playing with that cocky sneer we've come to love instead of that dopey grin we've come to loathe. Before Brouwer's goal, he and Toews simply toyed with Kronwall and Ericsson. Hossa charged to the net for once, leading to Kopecky's second (yes Tomo, scoring many times against the Wings will probably swing my emotions about you. Well done).
- Speaking of which, after watching today the Hawks won't be the only team in the market for another d-man. Even when Brad Stuart comes back, Kronwall, Ericsson, and Salei just are not going to scare anyone. Kronwall to me has taken a step back from whatever heights we were repeatedly told he was going to hit. He's all over the ice, perhaps looking for those highlight hits that mask all the deficiencies of his game, and his walkabout leading to Brouwer's goal looked like me trying to get home from the bar on iced over sidewalks. Sadly, Holland always seems to go out and gets what he needs.
- While we're talking about them, with all these injuries the Wings need their healthy stars to step up. Zetterberg was everywhere, and Howard certainly did his part -- without him this game very well may have been over after 20. But Johan Franzen? Looked pretty invisible from where I sat. Which is fine, because the dude usually terrifies me.
- Back to the Hawks, Duncan Keith had 2 points and was a +2. The Hawks won easily. This is not a coincidence, but Duncs has had a habit of backing up strong efforts with buffoonery next out. Let's hope that's not the case tomorrow, because that will lead to a heavy tonking on NBC courtesy of the Orange Machine that's about to roll in here.
- The Hawks blocked 17 shots.
- They also got steer-wrangled at the dot, 60%-40%, and Datsyuk didn't play. This is going to have to be addressed somehow, someway.
- The CORSI's are ugly, mostly due to the 3rd period and a lot of Hawks damage coming on the PP. But Toews's line was still positive, which shows you how good they were.
- The second unit scored both the power play goals today, and if that side gets rolling to match the first, that is what we would call a Black Mamba Lethal Power Play
- Mr. Crowley was once again, exemplary. He's now second in the league in GAA behind that Deal With The Devil Tim Thomas. I've been cool on the Calder talk, but I'm not sure I can hold out much longer.
Anyway, I'm going to spin this right back into a preview for tomorrow. It is a far different animal that the Hawks will lineup against on another Sunday morning coming down, because the Flyers are not beat up. They lost today to New Jersey 3-1, in what looked like a team getting caught looking ahead. This is an automaton showing up tomorrow, and fully operational as Chris Pronger returned on Thursday. The Hawks will not see a more solid defensive corps, as on their third pairing is Andrej Meszaros who's rocking a +29 at the moment. In front of that, the Flyers boast four guys with 40 points in Richards, Carter, Giroux, and Briere. A further five have more than 20. The line of Leino-Briere-Hartnell is playing some of the best hockey around. Even Nikolai Zherdev is competent. Boucher got the start today so look for Sergei Bobrovsky to have the cage against us, and he's having a great year. The Hawks need to keep this level through tomorrow and probably much higher, or they could get seriously sliced. If there was a game to shield Nick Leddy, this might be it, as the giant Storm Trooper collection of Flyer forwards would slobber at the thought of continually running him over.
If the Hawks can grab another two points on the weekend, well, I think we could officially say the Hawks are finally firing to their capabilities.
Oh, and I almost forgot: BEAR FUCKING DOWN!!!!