If you’ll allow me to carry out this metaphor another day, that is. While I’ve said the Hawks have resembled a Spinal Tap show lately, just one or two things going enough wrong to make the whole thing something of a joke, they’re still capable of having Derek Smalls hammer a bass line, David St. Hubbins belting out the lyrics and rhythm guitar, not have the drummer spontaneously combust, and Nigel Tufnel rejoin them on stage to shred a solo.
Ok, I’ve carried that out far enough.
I don’t know that the Hawks game was perfect tonight, but it certainly got better in the last 40 than it’s been for a while. Sure, in the 1st the Hawks were still stretchy-passy happy, but I feel like that calmed down in the 2nd and 3rd. But even in the 1st, the Hawks’ zip returned. They smothered puck-carriers and created turnovers and were quick with the puck and feet. That’s all it takes for the Hawks.
It’s late, let’s get to it.
The Two Obs
-Let’s start with the 4th line tonight, as they were fantastic. They don’t have a goal to show for it, but you don’t ask your 4th line to provide you goals every night. All three of them are the Hawks Corsi leaders, and you could argue this was Ben Smith’s best game in the NHL. I wish Smith were just a touch faster, but he does everything right. And this new-found confidence to lower the shoulder and get to the net will come in handy soon. And they did it when not having to deal with a top line, though they saw a lot of Daniel Sedin. Granted, the Canucks don’t have a top line right now but the point remains that if given a slightly less taxing assignment, they won’t be a possession black hole.
-Thankfully, Sharp got the message just in time that he’s passing too much. He’s The Fucking Shooter for Christ’s sake, and finally just got to the open space and rifled one. All three of the Red Wedding Line have a goal tonight, which is not coincidental to the Hawks looking dominant.
-Versteeg-Pirri-Kane was better tonight than last night, though Versteeg got a little Versteeg at times. I don’t think Pirri is going to get the patience he probably requires, because remember he’s only played three games since he was demoted due to injury. But they make more things happen than whoever else Kane has been playing with.
-God, there is just nothing left with the Canucks. Passy Twin is out, Shooty Twin looks lost and tired, and they’re dependent on whatever Ryan Kesler can come up with before he falls apart under the strain. This team probably won’t survive the strain that Tortorella will put on its top end, and it doesn’t feel like there’s enough on the bottom to make up the gap. Not that I’m complaining.
-Who knew that when he wasn’t playing with the Sedins Alex Burrows would be a completely useless ghost except everyone?
-The power play the Hawks scored on saw the most crisp puck movement that I think we’ve seen this year, which is exactly how you deal with the uber-aggressive Canucks PK. The worries about the recent malaise are partly caused by the power play going dark, as they’re not providing the goal per game that they were that papered some cracks. If the Hawks move the puck and themselves with that sort of flair on the PP, it won’t stay dark for long.
-The Hawks only won 37% of the faceoffs tonight, and Toews got housed to the tune of 33%. But I guess that’s better than having 59 shots and not scoring.
-I don’t know if I’d go so far as the broadcast did and say that Brookbank was excellent, but he was pretty good. It’s been weird this season, as Brookbank has looked better than Rozsival most nights and yet the numbers suggest that Leddy is better when Rozie plays. I guess it’s a debate as to what’s more important.
-Oh right, Corey Crawford who was the best Hawk tonight. Seems to always save his best for Rogers Arena. This likely doesn’t signal a hot streak coming from him, but he still can be what we saw last year on some nights.
-This trip could still be a disaster, but if the Hawks can find this performance two more times at least they’ll hit the Olympics with at least a split of it all, and that would be acceptable. They haven’t panicked over this streak, they know it’s still there, so should all of we.