Before and after the game last night, Darryl Sutter called the Hawks the best team in the league. Before it sounded a little strange, especially as Sutter was saying it because of different stats people should look at and Sutter always strikes people as someone who can’t add (but of course, the Kings are one of the more advanced metric team in the league and Sutter’s a big part of that). It also sounded strange to those of us who watch the Hawks every game, who get in a little deep with picking apart cracks we see because there’s just not much else to do.
If nothing else, this weekend proved the Hawks can certainly look like the best team in the league when they want to, as they strolled into the home of two West powers and turned each of them into a soiled napkin. There are no such things as landmark wins in November. That doesn’t mean they didn’t feel pretty damn good to watch.
Let us away.
The Two Obs
-Let’s say it right at the top of the bullets here, and I’ve been saying it on Twitter. Dan Carcillo (yes he gets his name back) has been excellent for most of the season. No, I don’t get it either. Perhaps it is seeing his NHL career flashing before his eyes after being traded twice in a year, mostly a healthy scratch, and then not being signed after a PTO (which is usually the end of the line). I do not believe the Hawks saw this coming, nor did anyone else. But I’m happy to be wrong. When focused on just hockey, he’s been excellent on the wall and on the forecheck.
The things with Carcillo is that he’s always had hands and skill. He’s a 3rd round pick after all, and has a 30-goal season in the OHL and a 20-goal one in the AHL to his name. You’d see flashes of it every so often but he was just so much more focused on maiming people. Remove the latter and you get more of the former. Sure, there was probably an extra spice last night for him in playing a team that gave up on him, but he’s been like this all season. There’s nothing I can say other than that. And he actually won a fight!
So here’s a question. Obviously when Sharp comes back Nordstrom will go back down and/or Morin traded. But when Teuvo is called up (and I still don’t believe for a second they’re going to have him spend all year in Rockford) who are you taking out of the lineup?
-Whether we call them Kreeger, KRS-One, The Conjuring, or whatever else, this Versteeg-Richards-Kane line has been… cartoonish. Once again they were all above 60% in Corsi-percentage with the score close, and they had shifts where it looked like the high schoolers in the playground playing with the grade schoolers. Neither the Ducks or Kings could get close to them at any time.
I don’t know how long it will last. I’m still cautious about getting bullish about Richards when the spaces close up as the season gets deeper and the legs get a little more weary. Versteeg is always teetering on the fine line between highly skilled and effective to buffoonery.
However, looking back through Richards’s past, he’s generally been very good when he gets to play with very good players. In the lockout season, he played mostly with Rick Nash and Marian Gaborik, and neither of them are anything close to Kane. He had 34 points in 46 games. And before that it was James Neal and Loui Eriksson who come anywhere close to Kane in terms of talent. And they don’t, really. Maybe this is just what it looks like when he gets to play with really good players who see the game in the same way he does?
-Oh, and the Hawks have rolled these two teams without getting much from Saad-Toews-Hossa, so imagine what it would have looked like if they did? Then again, there is value in Toews basically playing Kopitar or Getzlaf to a standstill and clearing the field for what’s behind them.
-I know Q is terrified of pairing Rundblad and Clendening together, and that makes sense. And I know Rozsival had that gorgeous assist to Richards. I also know that Justin Williams, not exactly a burner, walking around Rozsival laughably easily is a lot closer to the truth of what Rozie is now. I would still feel much better if this third pairing can get sorted out in a way after TVR’s injury.
-It’s all built from the back though, and the Hawks look this good when Oduya and Hammer are steady (you know what you’re getting from Keith every game pretty much). When they don’t allow the opposition much, chances are the Hawks are going to win.
-Oh hey look, there’s Corey Crawford in the top five in both GAA and SV% in the league. Think anyone will notice? Yeah, me either. The workload is always a bit of a concern, but there is plenty of time to get him a break here and there and I wouldn’t be shocked if he and Raanta split starts on the East coast trip next week.
There are generally four main contenders for the West according to just about most everyone. The Hawks just mauled two of the others. They’ll get the third on Wednesday at home. That one’s playing better than the other two. Looking forward to it.