Oh right, they can do it.
We said if the Hawks performed like they did against the Avalanche on Tuesday that they would win far more often than they would lose. I don’t know if they were significantly better tonight than Tuesday, but they sure as fuck weren’t any worse. And it led to them essentially rag-doll the hottest team in the league that currently sits on the Presidents’ throne, save for a nervy five minutes there in the 3rd. Don’t worry folks, the driver is still in the bag when it’s needed.
For me, the big tactic from the Hawks was an uber-aggressive defense. Not so much in jumping into the rush, but standing up at the Ducks blue line, jumping the Ducks in the neutral zone to whatever puck carrier there may be, and standing up at their own blue line. The Ducks have given the Hawks fits with their straight-line game for years now. It seemed like the Hawks just decided they were going to blunt those lines at center ice. They wouldn’t even let the Ducks get the puck behind them and down low, and whenever they did they were 100-feet away. The Ducks certainly weren’t at their best, but they weren’t allowed to be for long stretches. Every time the puck gained control of the puck outside of their zone, they were smothered.
You can’t do that every game, as eventually you’ll give up a bevy of odd-man rushes to a team that’s ready to play that quickly. And the Hawks gave up a couple, but not many. It was high-pressure stuff, and the Ducks didn’t really have an answer.