Well, Sam's prediction of goals-a-plenty didn't quite come to fruition, but based on what we saw tonight, you can understand why he wrote it. The Hawks put 39 on Lehner, many of which were of the high quality variety, and the Sens, depsite being limited to 26 shots, had several great looks on Ray Emery.
The Hawks opened the game (and the road trip) exactly how we hoped they would, pushing the pace and getting pucks on net. While Lehner's rebound control in the opening frame was a bit spotty, he was able to keep the Hawks off of the scoreboard through one. On the other end of the ice, Ray Emery stood tall as well, snuffing out a handful of great Sens chances while yielding very few rebounds. Razor caught a tough break towards the end of the period though, and Milan Michalek capitalized on a blocked shot/dump-in to beat Emery stick side.
Instead of feeling sorry for themselves after carrying much of the play in the 1st with nothing to show for it, the Hawks responded with an even more dominant 2nd 20. About 5 minutes into the period, the Hawks showed great puck possession on a delayed penalty; Kruger made a perfect no-look bank pass to sharp at the side of the net and Bryan Bickell chipped Sharp's rebound past Lehner. Midway through the 2nd frame, the Hawks did something that they haven't done very often this year, pounced on a powerplay opportunity when they really needed it. Mayers won the draw to Sharp, who skated toward the left circle and fired a shot on net; Hossa gathered the rebound and found the back of the net on a backhand wraparound. The Hawks had plenty of great chances in the second half of the period, but couldn't find the insurance tally.
I'd love to relive the details of the third with you, but being that I found out the result of the game before this morning's viewing, I watched much of the third in a hungover and sleep
depraved deprived malaise. The shot totals from the period loosely confirm what I think I saw, which was a bit of another hang on for dear life final frame. You can't expect to completely dominate a team for all 60 minutes, so let's just be happy that the Hawks came away with 2 big points on this, the first of a tough three game road trip.
Significantly fewer bullets than the John Woo movies that Sam quotes
- The Sens are exactly the type of team that the Hawks love to play against. The Senators subpar defense gave Hawks forwards all the time and space they wanted at the blueline, and even a Toewsless Hawks team will make you pay when you don't force them to dump and chase. The book is out on the Hawks, but some people just don't like to read.
- Things that we Chicago sports fans should consider ourselves lucky to watch: Devin Hester touchdown returns, Derrick Rose's speed and aerial wizardry, and Patrick Kane's playmaking ability. Without getting too off topic, I just wanted to point out that when 88 is on, he's as spectacular at his craft as any athlete in the city. In going back to my last bullet point, if Kaner has a full head of steam coming into the opposing zone, and you don't pressure him, he'll completely carve you up. Foley and Edzo mentioned it several times, but Kane could have (and probably should have) had about four assists last night.
- Same guy, different thought; Kane is typically the player carrying the puck into the zone, but when he's skating at center, he has a whole lot more ice to work with. Eights probably won't stick at the pivot when Toews returns, but some of his most dominant games this year have come with him in the middle. Can Kane win enough draws and do enough defensively for the organization to decide that he should stay there? With Kruger and/or McNeill knocking at the door, the answer to the question is probably "No."
- You want to root for a guy like Andrew Brunette, but if it were Troy Brouwer blowing some of those chances alongside Kane and Hoss, many of the SCH villagers would have the torches and pitchforks out. It sounds like Johnny might not be back for a while, so I'm sure that Bruno will get more opportunities to break his 26 game goal-less streak.
- Going into last night's game, Bobby Orr Jr had 18 points during an 8 game scoring streak. Who would've thought that this Hawks team would be the one to shut him down?
- Brandon Bollig, I respect your sweet beard, but the jury's still out on whether or not you're useful to this year's Hawks team.
- Sharp and Kruger both had assists, but it was a pretty "meh" game from the Sharp-Kruger-Stalberg combo. Lately I've been pining for more Viktor Stalberg, but he'll make me look even more stupid than I already do if he's going to make boneheaded plays like the unnecessary slew-foot-ish penalty that he took just a couple minutes into the final period.
- 22 minutes, a decent CORSI rating, and a sweet stretch pass to Patrick Sharp.....I like steady games from my defensemen. Oh, do ya?
- I already touched on this earlier, but the importance of the Hawks powerplay goal can't be understated. If the Hawks are going to A) Make the playoffs and B) Make any noise once they're there, they will need timely powerplay goals of that nature.
- I could probably come up with a few more anecdotes about the game, but McClure's going to be up early tomorrow to hit you with one of his marvelous Scum previews, so I'll leave you with some time to digest.