Like a frozen Reese’s with an Irish coffee, this game was good, especially coming against one of the better teams in the West. To the bullets.
– The Hawks marveled us with the best period of hockey they’ve played since Game #1. First, on Sharp’s steal at the oZ blue line, followed by a perfect pass to a thirsty Hinostroza. The obscenity of Vinnie’s release will make it impossible to analyze, since it shouldn’t be allowed on television again. The second goal was a bit more avant garde, with Bouma fat fingering a pass from behind the goal line, only to recover his turnover and hit Wingels in what Steve Konroyd and Pat Boyle continued to call “a quiet spot on the ice,” which I guess is the new preferred nomenclature for the high slot. Then, to spite the Fels/McClure motherfuck, which is the hockey equivalent of a Lennon/McCartney these days, Schmaltz took a Keith laser by the foreskin and just snipped by an overmatched Hellebuyck. Between three solid goals and devil’s food 66.66 CF%, this looked like the Hawks of old.
– I know the last time you and I talked about a Hawks postgame, I made a comment about Schmaltz needing to take more shots. After the sorcery he conjured on Kane’s goal in the second period, I won’t be upset if he never tries to shoot again. You simply can’t teach that kind of awareness. When he does things that flood the blood into all the fun parts of your body, it makes it hard (GET IT?) to remember that he’s just barely old enough to drink.
– The most fun thing to watch about this game was Connor Murphy’s unbridled confidence. It was his big shot that rebounded off of Hellebuyck and led to the Schmaltz–Kane connection. It was Murphy standing firm at his own blue line several times to break up potential odd-man rushes. It was Murphy moving back to the right side after his unforeseen success on his off side so that Kempný could slot back in. He’s turning into a best-case scenario right in front of our eyes, and it’s a joy to watch.
– And how about that Michal Kempný? He was the only Hawks D-man on the positive side of the possession ledger, though that’s probably a bit misleading, as the Hawks packed it in after the first period, with respective 39+ and 28+ CF%s. But he managed to make Brent Seabrook look good out there, which on its own should warrant more playing time. And that unapologetic slapper to put the Hawks back up four is the kind of thing that makes you tear your hair out when you think about how he’s sat in favor of Franson and an increasingly tired-looking Rutta. Hawks beat writer Mark Lazerus posed a question along the lines of, “For everyone clamoring for Kempný, who do you sit for him?” Sample sizes be damned, you go ahead and let Rutta and Franson heal up for as long as Kempný stays noticeable.
– I made fun of him a whole bunch at the beginning of the year, but if Jordan Oesterle wants to keep playing relatively well, I’m fine being wrong. I still think Murphy belongs with Keith, but I get not wanting to futz with what works. I don’t see Oesterle as a long-term answer to any question, but he was fine tonight. You’ll take that from him.
– It’s probably getting old, but I’m trying to make up for all the undue shit Crawford has gotten over his career: Corey did just about everything right tonight. He kept the Jets from getting back into it in the third with two huge saves in high-danger zones. I’m not even sure you can blame the one goal on him, though I suppose you want anything on the short side stuffed. Still, with Seabrook inadvertently screening the shot and being on the PK, it’s a bit more forgivable.
– If you want to be a stickler, you could easily say that Forsling didn’t look great in his own zone (a revelation, I know). He got beaten on iced pucks twice in the first, once by Perreault and then again by Tanev. Perreault blew by him again at the beginning of the second, and then he had a horrifically putrid dZ turnover late in the third in a high-danger zone. But this isn’t anything new. It was just especially noticeable tonight with everything else clicking so well.
– While the power play didn’t score (against one of the worst PKs out there), they weren’t a complete flaming bag of dog shit either. The last two PPs had sustained pressure but nothing to show for it. I guess you take that as a positive.
Eight points in four games is a streak. A win against Minnesota on Sunday goes a long way in the slog toward a wild card spot. If Kempný isn’t in the lineup, I’ll scream.
Forward, not backward. Upward, not forward. And always twirling, Twirling, TWIRLING toward freedom.
Beer du Jour: Tommyknocker Blood Orange IPA
Line of the Night: “He would purposely hold on to [the puck] to let the boos go. He looked like a WWE villain.” –Foley on Kane getting booed by Jets fans years ago.