It won’t be news to anyone that I enjoy watching the Hawks win. Well, maybe it is but it’s true. And wins like last night, a wild and frantic last-gasp joint, are cool. Blowouts are cool too. But I think I most enjoy watching the Hawks outclass another team. Maybe it’s because I watched Scum do it to the Hawks for 15 years or whatever and it’s just a relief to be on the other side. But it’s true.
That sort of thing can take different forms. Sometimes it’s a 5-0 shellacking. Or sometimes it’s like tonight, when even on the second of a back-to-back facing a rested team in their building (though you’d hardly call it hostile, would you?) the Hawks just show the Predators why they’re just a little short right now. The scoreline was close, and a bounce here or there and it may have gone to OT. And yet from the start of the 2nd period on, this just felt like the Hawks dangling a treat right in front of the Preds, yet never in reach. Like the Hawks were saying, “We’re not at our best tonight, but we can do enough to carry this one out and there really isn’t much you’re going to do about it.”
And with that, the Hawks are in first for the first time this season’s first week. They may not stay there long with the Preds having a game in hand and not playing again until Tuesday. But whatever. Six is better than five. Get Darryl out here.
The Two Obs
-The Preds came into this with an actual top line for the first time in… forever? I don’t know. Tonight, James Neal, Mike “Odd World” Ribeiro, and Filip Forsberg combined for four shots. I can’t honestly say I remember one of their shifts. Ebenholts och Elfenben simply handcuffed them, which makes you wonder why Lavvy didn’t try and get that line away from that pair more. Guess he’ll know better next time. Most of this Hawks streak has been hinged on strangling the life out of the top line facing them, because most teams can’t survive that. They did so again.
-I guess I can start to see why Q and the front office can get exasperated with Brandon Saad. Because he really shouldn’t go from being basically just there some games to being unplayable for the next few and back again. And he was unplayable tonight. That line was out against Nashville’s top pairing of Josi and Weber all night, and they were a combined +29 in Corsi, or 64%. That’s how you win a game when Kane’s line doesn’t go off.
-Klas Dahlbeck looked pretty assured tonight, as he has most every time I’ve watched him play in Rockford or in preseason. I refuse to believe Rozsival is going to make it to the end of the season without some sort of organ transplant, and Dahlbeck is probably the safest option among the Rockford contingent (until and if TVR returns healthy). Skates a little better than I thought, and just does the simple thing. On that pair right now, that’s all the Hawks need. More please.
-For someone who has what, four NHL games to his name, I just feel like I’m less likely to get heartburn when Darling is in net. I don’t know that he’s better than Raanta, but I know it’s the style the Hawks prefer playing in front of because they know where he’s going to be. There were some hairy moments, but at least he was in his net for them. I’m pretty sure that the two will split the starts until Crow is back, and I would think Darling would have to have a full body dry heave to not overtake Raanta in Q’s eyes.
-Marcus Kruger won eight of his nine draws. That’s good, right?
-Marian Hossa had seven shots tonight along with his two goals. Is this the binge we promised was coming?
Let’s all enjoy a weekend on top.