Just one night after I commiserated with Sam, McClure, and Feather over just wanting to see the Hawks play competitive hockey, they delivered in spades. It wasn’t a straight up dominant performance, but that wasn’t what we were looking for. The Hawks finally looked like a team playing confidently and playing fast, and the end result was an impressive win over a Vancouver team came into this game with the third most points in the West. Let’s do it:
DA BULLETS MY FRENT
– Patrick Kane said this a little tongue-in-cheek in his post-game first star interview, but a huge factor in this game for the Hawks was that they were able to play with a lead. Not having to play catch-up for the first time in a while (yes I know they were leading in Anaheim but even that was different) allowed them to play faster and a bit more loose, and that resulted in better overall hockey. It also helped that they had started edging toward outplaying the Canucks before that first goal, so they could probably smell a little blood in the water.
– Speaking of the first goal, I think Alex DeBrincat is not eligible to be named a saint by the Catholic church (not that he’d want to) because that goal had to be a miracle. I have probably watched it 25 times now and it never looks less impossible. My guy was getting hooked and tripped at the same time, the puck was rolling, and he kinda lost control of it as he started to fall, and yet he still picked his spot top corner and got more velocity on the puck than I could ever muster even if I was roided up and on cocaine. It has to be one of the goals of the year NHL.
– Overall, the 12-17-88 line being together led to big results, and gee if only a very handsome 25-year old hockey writer who lives in central Indiana had suggested that could be possible before the season. Ho hum. Alas, Kane and Dylan Strome provided three points each and Top Cat scored his miracle goal. The possession numbers for them are confusing, though, as Kane and Strome both got domed and finished with ~40% CF and ~10% below team rate while DeBrincat ended up at 55% and 6% above team. But I am not asking too many questions.
– Speaking of guys getting their brain pounded in possession wise, I was kinda blown away to see that Adam Boqvist finished a 35.29 CF%, which was damn near 18% below team. Obviously we do not expect hugely dominant results from him this early in the career, but you’d like to see that number be better. Another perplexing pairing result because he played with Olli Maatta a lot (by observation) and Maatta ended up at 48%. WHAT IS GOING ON?
But I say I was surprised by it, and that’s because I thought he played quite well tonight. I noted it on Twitter, but he had at least 3 incredible poke checks that were expertly timed and completely put the kibosh on Canucks rushes. He also is smart in terms of defensive zone positioning, so the results will come. For now I will take the consistent flashes of those special skills game-in and game-out.
– Big night from Crow, who deserved it. He was great all night, not that it’s any surprise.
– Now, not to ruin the mood here, because they did skull fuck the Canucks in the first period and close them out well, but what does it say about this team that the best game they’ve played in two weeks still saw them get completely owned in the second period, play even hockey in the third, and end the game losing the SOG count 38-37 and the 5v5 CF count 42-40? Like, sure the Canucks are third in the west, but is playing teams even really the best the Hawks are going to be able to do? Is that going to work when they’re not playing with a lead?
– Next up is Pittsburgh on Saturday. Until then.