About 3 minutes into this game, we got to witness history. It wasn’t just that Kane once again gained a point while visiting his old stomping grounds. He’s had 4 games back home now and has 4 points in them. That’s old news. The big news is obviously that we here at The Committed Indian have finally lost one of our trump cards in our calls for a real second line center. That’s right folks – Patrick Kane scored an even strength goal while Michael Handzus was on the ice.
Now that’s not saying Handzus had anything to do with the goal… I don’t think he had even made it into the Sabres zone by the time Kaner fired that nifty little wrister. But he was certainly on the ice.. and I guess that counts for something.
While Kaner’s goal was one of the prettier ones we’ve seen this season (definitely up there with Toews’ Soldier Field goals), it didn’t provide any spark for the Hawks to steamroll a team like the Sabres who are desperately attempting to avoid a tailspin at the moment and failing. Two minutes later the Hawks would luck out on a phantom call on Tyler Ennis that should have resulted in a Buffalo goal and four minutes after that Buffalo would actually end up tying the game at one. The Hawks certainly controlled the play but also looked like they were just as desperate for the game to end so they can get to their hotel rooms and watch the True Detective finale as everyone else. Lots of penalties on both sides with nothing to show, solid but far from stellar goaltending from Enroth, and finally a fancy little play from Shaw, Saad and Toews to put the game away.
- Since we’ve already touched on the Kane goal with Zus, it’s worth mentioning the commentary on NBC on the subject. While the commentary started promising “You’d expect the Hawks to have a dynamic second line center”, it quickly devolved into the idea that they don’t need someone who can carry the puck since Kane and Sharp already do it so well.Now clearly, this ignores the fact that Sharp generally has played with Toews and Hossa this year but even worse, it assumes that the major problem with Handzus is that he isn’t a fancy puck handler. As we’ve said all year, it has more to do with his lack of ability to keep up with Kane by any stretch. He can make a fancy pass but more often than not, they have to be of the home run variety since Kane is already so far ahead of him. I wasn’t joking when I said above that Zus wasn’t in the Sabres zone. The play developed quick (as so many Hawks plays do) and it got far past him. I don’t think Zus is a worthless player, he’s just not the answer for 2C.
- While the game lacked fireworks, Sharp, Saad and Hammer all had a hell of a game. Sharp was a threat every time he had the puck. Same for Saad. Hell, Saad was a threat even without it. Saad is going to play a major role come spring. Seeing him get time with Toews now can hopefully spark some ideas for Q to change lines around if need be if Hossa comes back at less than 100% for the rest of the year.
- So Rundblad made his Hawks debut tonight. That’s a thing that happened. He skated on the third pairing with Leddy for most of the night, racking up 7:38 in ice time. What exactly is accomplished by having two strong offensive minded defenders play together is up in the air but it’s not like there’s really an option to split one of the other pairs. 7:38 isn’t exactly stellar for a blue liner but it’s a start. I didn’t notice him much on the ice. It’ll be interesting to see how Q uses him as the season wraps up.
- The Sabres have about half as many points as the Hawks do so far for the year. This game shouldn’t have been a “barely squeak by” but at least it was 2 more points. And with the Blues winning again (and of course letting MN get a bonus point), every point is going to be more and more important. Take ’em any way you can get ’em.
- Now on to True Detective.