Stiff Competition - Hawks 2, Scum 1
With the midday news that both Jonathan Toews and Pavel Datsyuk would be missing tonight's contest, the general consensus seemed to be that the game tonight would end up being the equivalent of watching a couple of labrador retrievers wrestle around in their own filth for a chew toy. So much for that theory.
An early Marcus Kruger tripping call where he got caught reaching put the Hawks down a man on a rare brain fart from The Plan All Along. Naturally, the Wings made the Hawks pay as they always do, on a 40 foot shot from Valtteri Filppula that Crawford saw all the way, after numerous failed clearing attempts by the Hawks. However, rather than get down about it as they had during the 9-game Freak Out Hellbus Ride, the Hawks slowly and surely regained the momentum of the game, despite two clown shoes power plays, and Scum had a 1-0 lead after 20.
The second frame was far more wide open, with the Hawks getting several breakaway and odd man chances, the most glorious of which came to Michael Frolik, who didn't even hit the net. A shift of sustained pressure in Scum's zone was punctuated by Jimmy Hayes pouncing on a deflected loose puck in front of Jimmy Howard for the equalizer. There would be long stretches in the Hawk end of the ice as well, as Scum finished the frame with 16 shots in those 20 minutes, but were unable to solve Crawford again.
Early in the third, the Kruger/Hayes/Brunette line struck again, after Marcus Kruger potted the go-ahead strike off a Jimmy Hayes wrap around bid, with Andrew Brunette amid the pile of carcasses in the crease himself. Shockingly enough, it was actually a cruise on out for the Hawks, where they simply out lasted Scum and played most of the period in their end, hardly even allowing any semblance of a chance, all of which Crawford was ready for. Hawks 2, Scum 1, and we're not giving up bullets for Lent.
- Aside from the early boner, Corey Crawford's resurgence since returning to the comforts of his crease has continued. He made the saves he had to, particularly in the second, when the game was still knotted, which is all this team requires of him. Make it 3 games in a row with 30+ saves and 1 goal against. Crow's picking a hell of a time to solve what was a tremendous problem in the cage for Stan Bowman, let's hope he doesn't regress after it's too late.
- Jimmy Hayes may need sonar from a nuclear submarine to find his way around the defensive zone, but the kid sure as hell as a nose for the net, which can't be taught. His bull-rush at the Scum line to force the puck in through the defender is what initiated the sequence on the game winner. Additionally, Q is being far more judicious in his use of Hayes, and not exposing him to the opposition before he has enough experience, unlike he did for both Ben Smith and Andrew Shaw.
- Speaking of Q, while it didn't come back to bite him in the ass tonight, putting John Scott on the PK, and on the ice the shift immediately following the go-ahead goal is simply unforgivable. This is not a formula for long term success.
- Scum once again had serious problems with the straight ahead speed of the Hawks, no pairing more than Kronwall and Stuart who got torched repeatedly, and got bailed out by a diving Stuart twice.
- Like it or not, but Viktor Stalberg has turned into an absolutely hellacious forchecker without the puck. His closing speed caused at least 4 cough ups by Scum defenesemen by my count.
- Michael Frolik is never going to score again. NEVER.
- Patrick Kane, while scoreless, was all over the ice tonight, and has regained the explosiveness in his stride with the puck. Whether it's a lingering boo boo that's healed or the return of "Fuck You Mode", it's right on time.
- The power play is far beyond clown shoes at this point. But credit Patrick Sharp for taking a pounding in front of the net and coming inches away from solving Howard numerous times after spending an eternity on the point. Let the record also show that Jesse Rogers didn't think Sharp was a good option there, he'd have preferred John Scott. While Sharp isn't ideally built, the notion of Scott on the power play makes me want to set myself on fire. Every Hawks fan on earth should be incensed at how stupid Jesse makes us all look.
- Yes, this was the Hawks' first 2-1 win this season.
- Marcus Kruger is totally fearless going to the net.
- Did Henrik Zetterberg play tonight?
- Ohhh Rick Nielsen...why? WHY?
- Fun as this was, get back soon Cap'n.