Well, it looks like everyone else was right. After three games, Richard Panik is clearly the force of nature he was labeled as last year, proving Genius Steve Yzerman and all the Sharpest Minds in Toronto, and this publication wrong.
Of course, shooting 67% is clearly sustainable, and Panik will obviously score 40 this year, such is his undeniable knack for the net. And through the sheer force of will of this generational talent, along with a few key Scott Darling saves (who is also a clear cut #1 goalie obviously), the Hawks were able to notch their first victory of the year.
- Of Panik’s three goals, only the first was more than having his stick on the ice on the doorstep, and that one was impressive in his use of the same move on Matt Carle that everyone’s dad ever has used in driveway basketball. And if it’s against Matt Carle, is it all that impressive anyway?
- Brian Campbell and Gustav Forsling had a hellacious night in the possession ledger, both carrying only about 22% and were -15 each in about 15 minutes of ice time. The other four defensemen were all above water however, but this may be the excuse that Quenneville needs to get Teflon van Riemsdyk back into the lineup despite how fast the unit as a whole is without him.
- The early returns on Michal Kempny are fairly encouraging, he makes a lot of subtle plays in his own end to knife the puck free in corners, and get himself room to make a pass to get the play going the other way. He does have an unfortunate habit, however, of bending at the waist to stab at the puck when backing up across his own blueline against an oncoming puck carrier. Clean that up a bit, and the projections of him being White Oduya might be fairly accurate.
- Vince Hinostroza certainly didn’t look out of place speed-wise with Toews, and those two and Panik were the only Hawks line above water.
- While some of the possession numbers are ugly, it was a positive sign to see this team not let off the gas in the third period when taking a lead into it. Capitalizing on an early power play and a non-empty-net capper while outshooting the Preds 11-8 in the third shows a team that’s fast enough to keep the pace with a team many feel is the fastest in the league, even when they’re pressing late.
- The Predators’ goaltending will be their undoing this year, just as it was for the Stars last year (and last night).