This is what you get when a former captain and general manager spend the week feuding with each other in the press. After a few days of Doug Wilson and Joe Thornton taking turns sending pot shots about each other in the media, the Sharks came out with an edge. The Sharks had 9 shots on goal in the first period before the Hawks recorded their first.
After the utter domination ended, the Hawks were up 1-0. So in case you had any questions as to how bad things were going for the Sharks these days, this game should leave you no doubt. The Hawks never trailed in a game where, in the first 40 minutes, it felt like they were barely holding on.
The third period was the sound you hear when a team’s championship window gets slammed shut. Brandon Saad, Bryan Bickell and Patrick Sharp all scored and the Sharks were denied any kind of result from this game and that was that.
–Corey Crawford was the 3rd star but if it weren’t for him in the first 15 minutes, this could have turned out much differently. He made several saves in the early going that helped negate the Sharks tidal waves of momentum. None of the saves were of the highlight reel variety but they were solid and his rebound control helped dissipate any extended chances for San Jose.
Crawford has been the biggest reason why the Hawks have gone 6-1-1 since Kane went down. It’s also probably why it feels so awkward the Hawks have had such a good record in that time frame.
Since the Kane/Toews era, the Hawks have never relied on their goaler this much to win games. Now that they are, it feels wrong that they keep winning. But hey, this is how they did it in the late 80’s and early 90’s so I guess it’s all right.
–Brandon Saad’s go-ahead goal? That’s pretty much how it’s going for San Jose these days. It was a bad bounce, a defenseman losing an edge and Saad finishing what got started. When things go bad, they really go bad. I think the only redeeming part of that play (depending on your point of view) was that one of the Hawks best finishers was on the receiving end of it. Otherwise, it was pure bad luck for one end and good fortune for the other. In other words, the fine line of winning and losing in hockey.
–Is this the beginning of a Patrick Sharp binge? I was hoping he’d wait until the playoffs but I suppose this will do for now if it results in securing the 2nd or 3rd spot in the Central Division. You knew it was going to take a ridiculous goal to finally break the seal. His first goal was a rebound off a breakaway that Antti Niemi barely stopped to begin with.
Then his second goal was a point shot off the power play which was very similar to five dozen other shots he’s had since January 28th. Of course, this one went in. Hockey, am I right?!?
–Something seems off about Jonathan Toews. I’m not sure what it is but he hasn’t looked like himself for the past 5 or 6 games. Whether it’s him sending passes to the point when no one is standing there or losing a 50/50 battle, it doesn’t look right.
–It seems Kimmo Timonen is slowly getting his feet back. I thought his second game was the roughest. Since then, his foot speed and overall speed have definitely improved. This will be the biggest thing to watch as this whole thing moves forward. If he doesn’t have any kind of speed, he’s sort of useless.
This isn’t Michal Rozsival we’re talking about here. Timonen’s speed and footwork are his biggest assets (along with his passing and decision-making). If he doesn’t have those, things get pretty hairy.
–Hey, a Duncan Keith point shot got through and ended up in the net. Amazing.
–4 of the next 5 are against Eastern Conference opponents. After facing the two New York teams, the Hawks next three opponents are non-playoff teams. Whether the division championship is a legitimate goal, this week will go a long way to determining that.
If they do, great. If not, I don’t think it’s something that will make or break their playoff success.