Not prettiest but it’ll do. Kinda like closing time.
While Q and the press made a lot of the “battle level” of the past two games and all the drills in yesterday’s practice, there was a telling remark from Marian Hossa in his postgame interview with Brian Engblom. He talked about improving the Hawks’ gap to each other and not being so spread out. Basically, that’s puck support, and the Hawks haven’t had it in a while. They were much better tonight, building speed through shorter passes and crunching the space the Wings had to play in. They pressed Detroit all over and weren’t afraid of gaps behind. That’s what led to a pretty thorough win.
Of course, having Marian Hossa back helps too.
Let’s get to them:
The Two Obs
-I remarked in tonight’s Indian that the Hawks were missing Hossa more than a team that’s advertised as deep as the Hawks should. That’s a bit silly. Any team would miss Marian Hossa and tonight we saw why. Though few teams will let him traipse around the zone with the puck without laying a hand on him like Detroit did, Hossa did whatever he wanted tonight.
In the end, I think the hope is that the few games off will refresh Hossa, because the Hawks are going to need a dominating month or two from him starting in April, which they haven’t really gotten in his time here. He was good in stretches in last year’s playoffs, but not “He’s Marian Hossa and you’re not.” There’s nothing too much any team can do when he’s on that form.
-Nick Leddy’s power play goal was a result of the Hawks finally doing something I’ve been hoping they would for two seasons. They outnumbered the penalty killers in a scrum along the boards. When you have the man advantage there is rarely a time when you don’t want to do this, but the Hawks usually are one-on-one or two-on-two and because they don’t have a lot of size up front on their PP, these don’t always go their way.
This time, Hossa, Smith, and Versteeg all got in below the goal line, outnumbered Kronwall and Ericsson and the puck spit back out to Leddy who had all day to wait for Smith and then pick his spot. This was one reason the Hawks struggled to score on the PP last spring, and I hope it keeps up this one.
-That was a better Patrick Sharp.
-Kyle Quincey and Brendan Smith, they’re just the gift that keeps on giving. While all the kids the Wings have in the lineup look promising, aside from DeKeyser they’re all forwards. Xavier Ouellet better be a thing.
-When you actually watch for it, it’s almost comical how much interference and grabbing the Wings get away with off the puck. This is party what so frustrated the Hawks in last year’s series.
-Brandon Saad didn’t play the last half of the game, and that’s a little worrying. They could survive his loss a little better than they did Hossa’s, but not by much.
-Ben Smith got some time with Kane and Bickell as he did at the end of the Nashville game. At this point, whatever. Because…
-… as you might have seen Teuvo Teravainen’s season in Finland came to and end today. There are a couple hurdles here, however. And thanks to Chris Block for pointing this out to me today. Teuvo’s contract with Jokerit has one year left to run. It assuredly has an NHL out clause, but that wouldn’t come for free. So you’d imagine that the Hawks aren’t going to fork over whatever amount of cash it will take and have Teuvo flirt with missing the World Championships to play in Rockford. At least you wouldn’t think.
Secondly, the Hawks don’t have the cap space to just fit him in. They have about enough space to have him for 5 or 6 games (check my math) without any moves. But there aren’t any moves to make. David Rundblad isn’t waiver exempt, and would be snapped up. You can’t bury Brookbank’s contract in the minors any more. They could waive Peter Regin, but I don’t see that happening. Stay tuned.