After something of a wonky week, the Hawks returned to the model that had racked up wins in the season’s first couple weeks, or more to the point before Hossa got hurt. The second line goes nuts, Crawford is excellent, no one else does much of anything of note either good or bad (or at least not bad enough to fuck up the two points), and the Hawks win. The 2nd line accounted for all four goals, Crow makes 22 saves in the 2nd period alone, and against an EdMo team without McJesus it’s just enough. It’s not the sort of win that is going to calm any slightly jangly nerves about this team’s prospects, but after getting pretty much tonked for the last five periods before this, it’ll do.
However, I can already tell a narrative I’m going to be sick of by Tuesday at the latest. The beat reporters haven’t been shy about pointing out that last year’s team was also 8-6-1 at this point last year. But if you actually bother to look under the surface, there are some striking differences. First and foremost, at this point last year, the Hawks had a teams Corsi-percentage of 57%, best in the league at that point. They were shooting 5.6% at evens, which was pretty comically low.
This year, the Hawks are a 51.3% Corsi-percentage team, which isn’t bad and is actually 9th in the league. And they’re still shooting 5.7%, which is 5th worst in the league. But whereas last year that 8-6-1 record was almost certainly far below what the Hawks should have been, the underlying numbers on this one suggest this is about where the Hawks should be.
The story is the same when you look at scoring chances per game (admittedly this is not surefire because definition of “scoring chance” is still somewhat hazy). Last year, at this time the Hawks had the 4th best scoring chance share in the league, at 56.3. This year they’re 13th at 50.6, essentially splitting the difference with opponents. Basically, this 8-6-1 feels more deserved.
Anyway, enough of that. Back to tonight, yes?
The Two Obs
-So what would the Hawks’ record be without Kane and Panarin? 4-10-1?
-Hossa returned tonight, and I don’t really want to comment too harshly on his first game back. but going over his whole season, how many times would you say he’s flashed at even strength this season? At some point, closing in on 37 is going to matter. Toews and him were chasing Draisaitl and Hall for most of the last 40 minutes.
-Although, they might be helped if Teuvo wasn’t being forced onto the top line as a left wing, which he just isn’t. Toews and Hossa together want to play a very straight line game, and that’s just not what Teuvo does. And it doesn’t have to be. For the love of all that’s good and holy get Teuvo into the middle on the 3rd line with Dano on one side and whatever combination of Shaw/Tikhonov/CatButt or something. What are they holding onto with Tanner Kero anyway?
-Speaking of Dano, the Hawks have him running around trying to hit people now. Is that really his best use?
-Hey you know what? Viktor Svedberg sucks. Erik Gustafsson might have use if you could really pick and choose his zone starts and assignments and basically vault him into the offensive zone every shift. The Hawks already have one guy like that, his name is Trevor Daley. Guess it’s a good thing they play together then.
-I’m still laughing about that shot Daley had in the 3rd on the power play that he missed by a minimum of 12 feet. With the lead, on the PP, and open ice between him and Talbot and he missed that badly. You can’t do that there, lucky it wasn’t a breakaway the other way. Such is Trevor Daley.
-I don’t think that Cam Talbot thing is going to work for Edmonton, at least if he’s going to continue to play so deep in his crease he’s ducking the crossbar.
-Did Taylor Hall leave the ice in the 2nd period?
-Panarin’s release, man… I mean I’d say WGN cameras can’t keep up but that’s hardly a claim. I think most cameras are going to struggle.
-Crawford needed that, and I was surprised he got the start at all. After two iffy outings, this seemed like the time to get him a mini-break with the next game not until Thursday. Either Q wanted to rebuild his confidence badly, or he didn’t trust Darling to pull the Hawks out of a mini-losing streak.