For the second straight year, the Philadelphia Flyers rolled into the United Center, laid down on their back for a belly rub, urinated a little on the floor, and quickly beat it back to the bus. This was a slight improvement, they didn’t give up seven this time.
It was no surprise that the Hawks, wanting to avoid the prolonged whiskey dick (redundant?) that the previous two games turned into, came out flying even faster and more frantically in this one hoping to put it away early. That’s exactly what they did. All it took was a brilliant rush from the third line, a power play, and then another rush from the third line, and this one was half in the bag. In a good way, not in the way we usually use that phrase. Or like Killion is now.
From there it was about dodging a few close calls, making sure the Flyers didn’t grab any signs of life, which the Hawks just about managed. Any suspense was snuffed out with Kane’s second power play goal, with both of them coming from a combined length of a woodchuck’s wang. Let’s get on to it.
The Two Obs
-While I don’t really think even the most unhinged section of greater Hawkdom will be calling for a goalie controversy (at least I want to), Raanta did have himself a fine evening. He did get caught swimming a couple times which was a problem last year, but got bailed out this time around by Oduya, Shaw, and Seabrook once each. Who knows what the game looks like if Vorcek can put that one chance away. But he didn’t. It’s easier to play goal when your team gives you a three-goal cushion. For the most part Raanta did look more composed and other than those rare occasions, he wasn’t losing his net or sprawling as much.
-I want to believe that it wasn’t that Joel Quenneville didn’t think Saad and Kane were working together, but more that he thought the third line needed the straight-line speed and havoc that Saad creates. It certainly worked no matter how we got there. Saad’s speed and direct style opens up more space for both Bickell and Richards, causing defenders to either back off or scramble. Ben Smith is a trier but he just doesn’t have those wheels or skills. Saad’s bank pass to spring Bickell to set up the opener was pretty sumptuous, but not as sumptuous as Bickell’s return to send Saad in. Maybe that’ll keep people off Bickell’s back for like, seven minutes.
-They mentioned on the broadcast that Marian Hossa only has the one point on the season, his shorty against Buffalo. But his linemates have only combined for one point at even-strength as well. This doesn’t seem to be anything to worry about, but maybe something worth watching as the opposition ramps up a bit this week. The eye-test doesn’t seem to show anything wrong, so let’s call it a quirk for now.
-Duncan Keith, +13 in Corsi. And it was ever thus.
-Kris Versteeg and Patrick Kane combined for -12. And it was ever thus.
-I remarked in tonight’s Indian how strange it was to see the Flyers as the least penalized team in the league. Good thing they took care of that right away. Apparently this season it’ll be Ben Smith getting mauled every game instead of Marcus Kruger, with a supposed “enforcer” on the line.
-Boy that Flyers defense… that’s just special.
-I’ve been saying I like what the power play has been doing, at least the first unit, even though it hadn’t been scoring much. As the Flyers made it much easier to enter the zone, the Hawks were more free to work some stuff there. Getting Sharp lanes from the middle of the ice is going to lead to more and more goals, you’d have to think. Let’s see if they have a counter move when teams begin to cheat toward that.
-Duncan Keith led with 21 minutes. That’s what we had in mind, and probably what the Hawks did too now that the schedule is going to bunch up.
The four-game homestand is over, with the Hawks taking seven of the eight points on offer. I like that ratio. With the Preds, Blues, the hot Sens and the Ducks all up next, we should find out a little more about the West Side Six.