Separation Sunday - Hawks 3, Blues 1
Let's get one thing out of the way real quick - these 11:30 am starts are total bullshit. The level of accomodation that NBC goes to for their precious east coast audiences is a bit absurd, exacerbated by the fact that the home TV audiences for both teams involved today were in the central time zone. And don't even get Fels started on the indignity of having to bring donuts for his sellers down at the UC- not that he doesn't enjoy rewarding their efforts, it's just that it shouldn't be necessary. Hockey games should start and end under the cover of night, because really, who wants to see hockey fans in natural sunlight anyway? It's not good.
Anyway, on to the actual action. With both teams coming off easy matinee wins yesterday, the scales were fairly even to start between the Hawks and Blues, but St. Louis controlled most of the action, despite the Hawks getting 4 minutes of power play time in the first. With the Hawks only mustering 4 shots in the first and the way the Blues play, Andy McDonald's late goal felt like an early death knell. But, that, as they say, is why the games are 60 minutes long.
The second period was about as boring as Ken Hitchcock could ever fantasize about, though the Hawks did start to gain a little bit of momentum and had a few shifts of sustained pressure, but nothing that ever made Brian Elliot exert himself.
And then the third period happened. Around 5 minutes in, the Blues blew an opportunity at a netmouth scramble, and the puck came back the other way, where both Patricks took turns stopping just inside the Blues' line to find a late man, and Patrick Sharp found Duncan Keith, who ripped a shot past Elliot cleanly. In a rare instance of actually learning from failures past, the Hawks didn't take their foot off the gas just happy to coast to a point, and played the majority of the next few shifts deep in the Blues' zone. An attempted centering feed from Dave Bolland to Patrick Kane bounced off of the better-than-Toews-because-he-fights David Backes and behind Elliot. A late Marian Hossa 3/4ths rink empty netter later, and the Hawks walked out into the sunlight victorious. Hawks 3, Blues 1. Sunday Bullets.
- Far and away, the best Hawk on the ice for this brunch session was Duncan Keith. Aside from the two points and +3, Keith was quick to close on pucks on his side of the ice, and made smart decisions when passing, avoiding the 120 foot hero passes...at even strength at least.
- Also worthy of mention is Keith's recent partner Dylan Olsen. While he's still very raw, he clearly has the tools to become a Robyn Regehr-like shithouse on the back end for years to come. He absorbed the on-charging Blues' forwards hits with verteran patience, and provided a safety net for Duncan Keith to retrieve pucks. Though many in Blackhawk nation have been guilty of overly fawning over the early returns on callups, it's easy to see the mature skillset on Olsen and why the organization has been so high on him.
- For as good as he's been recently, Nick Leddy was outworked and outmuscled by Jamie Langenbrunner on the Andy McDonald goal. Granted it was after an icing call and he normally wouldn't be out there against that line, he still needs to get more of an ass on him to help out in situations like that.
- The power play is still fucking clown shoes. At least they're toying with the idea of two defensemen on a point, though. We'll take progress where we can get it.
- Corey Crawford continues his upward trend after reeling himself deeper into his crease. Two straight 30+ save, 1-goal-allowed performances are the best results he's had since Thanksgiving.
- The first shift after the Hawks took the lead, the Blues came out running around recklessly, looking to drive anyone in red into the 15th row. Don't ever change, St. Louis. Don't ever change.
- John Scott and Ryan Reaves are fucking pointless.
- The Blues were something stupid like 25-1-1 when leading after 40 minutes, so this one definitely felt good, but another one on Tuesday will feel even better.