Everything Else

Shiftless When Idle – Hawks 5, Wild 3

For the more neurotic among us, every passing game (and victory), brings yet another opportunity for this absurd streak to come to its end. The laws of probability are not on the Hawks’ side anymore, leaving many steeling themselves for the inevitable. Tonight was not that night however, despite some efforts to do so.

After a prolonged pregame ceremony honoring Marian Hossa’s 1000th game (played Sunday), the Hawks and Wild finally got down to business in sloppy fashion. An Andrew Shaw turnover at his own blue line led to the Wild potting the opener, with trade bait Matt Cullen finding Devin Setoguchi on a backdoor feed.

Then the dam broke. Or rather, Brandon Saad happened.

Saad would equalize things on his second whack at a backhander on a goalmouth scramble. Forty-four seconds later, Bryan Bickell would put the Hawks ahead with a lead they wouldn’t look back from even with some hairy moments later. Saad would then find both Bickell and Hossa about 90 seconds apart to give the Hawks a 4-1 lead and send Nicklas Backstrom (the Finnish goalie, not the Swedish center) to the showers at the period’s end.

The second period was a bit calmer with no goals scored but the Hawks still carrying the play, outshooting the Wild 11 to 4 in the frame, and 28 to 10 through forty. But, as has become custom, the third period was spent mostly in a 1-2-2 trap, and it allowed the Wild to get back into the game on Ryan Suter’s first goal as a Wild(?), and Kyle Brodziak outworking the entire Hawks’ fourth line and first defensive pairing. Naturally, Patrick Kane wouldn’t stand for that kind of bullshit, and put the game out of reach 61 seconds later. Forty three of forty-six points and counting. Caution: brilliant insight ahead.

Observations

  • Call me a turd in the punchbowl if you want, but the pregame hullabaloo was just a bit over the top for my tastes, and I really like Marian Hossa. Just because such pomp and circumstance is now common practice around the league doesn’t mean I have to like it. It felt like hollow grandstanding to me. Maybe that degree of spectacle might be warranted for someone who’s played all 1000 games with the same team, but tonight’s just seemed garish.
  • Speaking of garish, Bollig and Carcillo were the only two minuses on the team tonight. Take a hint.
  • Enough cannot be said about how fun it is to watch Brandon Saad play, and he’s only starting to kind of figure it out. This is what a power forward looks like. Starting breakouts with his legs, winning 50/50 pucks, and willing himself onto the scoresheet. Hopefully his performance coupled with the previous point finally causes some lightbulbs to click on behind the bench, and keeps Gorilla Salad where he belongs.
  • Bryan Bickell and Viktor Stalberg are going to be very rich next year, it’s just probably not going to be here.
  • Darcy Kuemper had an unenviable position tonight and performed admirably, despite not exactly facing the onslaught Backstrom faced. He did keep DLR backstage though, so he’s got that going for him.
  • The Hawks were outshot 13 to 4 in the third period. The 1-2-2 has got to go.
  • Dave Bolland lost 10 of 18 faceoffs in his return to action, and Patrick Sharp didn’t attempt any.
  • Did Zach Parise and Mikko Koivu even play tonight?
  • From now until Sunday, the Hawks will play the Avs twice in a home and home and the Oil on Sunday at the UC, two of the very few teams that can keep up. Sitting back as the Hawks did tonight with even a one goal lead against these opponents in this compressed time frame will surely spell the end of this run.

Player of the Game

Saad had a goal and two helpers, and was everywhere. He was due a breakout game on the scoresheet after all the opportunities he created for Toews and Hossa in the first couple weeks of the season, and tonight he finally cashed in. No garauntees it keeps him on that line though, because Gorilla Salad needs that top 6 time.

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