So much for any kind of streak to start this season. Rather than wait a month and a half until after the season starts, the Hawks walk away without a point for the first time after only 3 games this season, and on their first trip out of the United Center.
Things didn’t start out that unpleasant this evening, as the Hawks actually dictated play in the early going of things, which tends to be an oddity for games at DrinkScotch. Perhaps having the toothless rabble’s attention divided with an elimination game a few blocks away dampened what’s usually an atmosphere that can best be described as Redneck Rampage, but the Blues found the puck in their own end more often than not.
Fortunately for them, counterpunching is a specialty, and it has to be when they’re that defensively oriented without a ton of top flight offensive creativity. A rare Marian Hossa neutral ice turnover gave Vlad Tarasenko enough room to make the Hawks pay and give the Blues a lead one would have thought they would just sit on. But a quick call after the fact put the Hawks on the advantage, and Patrick Kane was able to deposit a whiffed Sharp one-time attempt that skittered its way onto Kane’s tape.
In the midst of trading chances in the second, an offensive zone hook from Bryan Bickell naturally resulted in ending up in the back of the Hawk net on a pretty deft deflection from Cap’n Fighty, but once again the Hawks would answer on the advantage shortly thereafter, this time with the puck finding its way to Toews’ tape in a crease scramble.
Despite continually pressuring the Blues in the third, a late pinch by Brent Seabrook and a quick counter by Alex Petrangelo left Duncan Keith alone to defend a 3 on one, and Alex Steen, who had drawn two penalties already, muscled a shot just under the heel of Crawford’s glove, which he got a piece of but not enough, leaving only 20 seconds left. Blues 3, Hawks 2. It sucks, it stings, but it’s early. Bullets not originating in East St. Louis
- Jonathan Toews can’t take himself out of a tie game with 5 minutes left to go with retaliatory nonsense. Hammer’s a big boy, he can take care of himself.
- Jimmy Hayes sure has mastered streaking down the right wing boards with the puck. It’s the part where he drops his shoulder at the bottom of the ring and strafes in toward the net that he seems to have a problem with. Most of those rushes end harmlessly with Hayes circling back around behind the net, where he’s not exactly Gretz in the playmaking department.
- Michal Handzus is killing the Sharp/Hossa line. Can Pirri’s skating and defensive awareness really be that bad that he’s a noticeable downgrade from Zus? Handzus might be the nicest guy in the world, but he’s got the turning radius and acceleration of the USS Monitor, and it was evident even against the Blues, who aren’t even the fastest opponent in the division. The threads on Q’s blankie are fraying and disintegrating.
- Same for Joakim Nordstrom, but it’s time for him to go carbo load on flavorless fettuccine alfredo at the Rockford Olive Garden.
- The kill needs to be more aggressive. We’ve been saying it since last spring, but defencemen, particularly those at the skill level of Alex Petrangelo, need to be forced into making decisions faster than they’d like and not allowed the time and space to pick their shooting lane into and through traffic.
- Even while being held scoreless, Brandon Saad is still dragging his line by the dick into the offensive zone. He’s very rapidly become one of the most entertaining one man breakouts from the wall league wide, and that’s helped by the fact that he’s coming all the way back into the zone and not cheating at his own line.
- After a couple of solid outings against some solid goaltending, the Hawks have the opportunity to get right against Evgeni Nabokov and the Isles on Friday. The Hawks have dong whipped Nabby in recent years, and his performance against the Pens last year was just barely above abhorrent enough to let Marc-Andre Fleury take a pounding in the press while he escaped unscathed. Hopefully there’s a couple tweaks in the lineup by that point as well.