When the Stars look back on what will likely be a missed playoff spot, it might be this night that they point to. Before the night they probably counted on the Penguins doing them a favor and perhaps sneak a point or two off a still sleepy Hawks team. The Hawks weren’t all that sleepy, the Pens probably were, and the Hawks walked away with two points and the Starts with a three-point gap to the last wild card.
It’s still kind of startling how the Hawks can exert just enough to not only swing a game but pretty much dominate it. The shot-board says 42-27, and there were definitely stretches where the Hawks pinned the Stars in. But this wasn’t an all-out assault we’ve seen before. It was more pure control, not letting anything get out of the bottle (except for Garbutt’s two goals). Containment rather that domination. It’s still quite effective, and doesn’t take everything out of the legs.
So let’s get to it.
The Two Obs
-Let’s start with the player I was all over on Sunday, and that’s Kris Versteeg. After possibly his worst game against the Preds, he had one of his better ones tonight and it all resulted from toning everything down. The dip-trip-flip-fantasia act was out, and Versteeg essentially just took what Hossa and Toews provided him, which is admittedly a lot. The patience for Hossa’s goal is what he’s capable of, and let’s hope we see more of it. Oh wait, they credited it to Steeger. Well, it still applies.
-Ok, think that’s enough with David Rundblad.
-Right then, Teuvo. Won all of his draws, that’s nice. Showed some pretty decent vision. That’s nice. Always opted for the more defensive choice and was more aware in that end than we thought. That’s nice. The 36.4% Corsi-percentage is not so much nice. And that’s with as favorable zone starts and competition as you can find. There’s a lot here, but we probably won’t see it this year. Won’t be shocked if he’s sat against Boston on the road. In fact, I encourage you all to read Chris Block’s column on TheThirdManIn.com tonight as that feels like exactly how this will go. Because his shifts have to be chosen so carefully, I think that’s why Sharp isn’t skating with him so as not to limit his ice time.
-How many offensive zone, selfish penalties does Brandon Bollig have to take before it costs him in the lineup, asked a very curious Jeremy Morin. And he couldn’t even beat the shit out of a smaller Frenchman.
-From now on, when Brent Seabrook lets yet another forward leak behind him, I’m just going to yell, “+30!!”
-One thing that’s bothered me about the Hawks in recent years is that when they get a 3rd period power play with a lead, they have this habit of punting it. There was a chance to put the game away tonight after Seguin’s delay of game call. The Hawks went conservative, gave up the momentum, and then had a pretty tight few minutes there when Garbutt got his second. You’d like a little more ruthlessness.
-A word on Tim Sassone. I know that we and you at times jousted with him in recent years, but no one should take lightly what Mr. Sassone was. For the longest time, he was the only hockey writer in town worth reading, and basically the only hockey writer in town. When the Hawks were awful and irrelevant and the other publications in town were sending someone who treated the job like a prostate exam, Sassone was there and still churning out actual hockey writing. He was still the most knowledgeable and passionate writer about the Hawks this town has seen (maybe next to Bob Verdi), and he will be missed. I know too many people who say they got the Daily Herald simply for his work.
But more important than that, I know a few people who met and knew him, and they all say he was a great and kind man. That’s what matters most. It’s a loss for the Chicago area, and hockey in general.
Anyway, it’s two points, and that’s what matters now. Volume goes up a little this weekend. And a reminder, for Thursday’s game we’ll be at The Bottom Lounge Come hit Killion with a fish.