This harkened back to some other games. The tenets of was made the Hawks 12-game win streak were not in evidence tonight. And while it was only a one-goal game, this was as badly as the Hawks have been outplayed in a long while. Other teams had done it for a period or two during this streak, but for a whole game you’d have to go back to the loss to the Canes. The Bolts are basically the realized version of what the Canes would like to be. A high-tempo team with a couple puck-moving d-men, a band of quick, skilled forwards who play with speed at both ends. The Hawks were nowhere near tonight.
What had gotten them to this point? Let’s go through the checklist:
-The top line’s revival: Tonight, that line didn’t have one attempt when it was out against Filppula, Callahan, and Brown, and whatever their limits are they are all very good defensive players. The Hawks’ top line combined for two shots total.
-Lately the 4th line has been able to at least put a couple shifts together: Tonight the Hawks didn’t have a 4th line thanks to the trade of Ryan Garbutt.
-When things have been not clicking, the power play has been able to find just enough to get the Hawks a point or more: Tonight it didn’t really do anything, and had two big chances in the 3rd period to do so.
-Corey Crawford holds them in: That they did get.
It couldn’t last forever, and any streak of this length has to ride the percentages a bit. Tonight, all of those came back to Earth. It happens.
Let’s get through the rest:
The Two Obs
-While I still think it’s pretty asinine to play Stamkos on a wing, last year Cooper did it in the playoffs and had Filppula on the top line. This year, it’s Namestnikov. That’s a pretty huge difference.
-I find it hard to believe that Cooper can get away with playing Stralman and Hedman together, but he protected Sustr and Garrison with the excellent play of their third line. With the Hawks not having a fourth line, it was up to Teuvo and Danault to try and find something against Coburn and Nesterov. They had their chances but didn’t take them, or passed them up like Danault on his 2-on-1 in the 2nd. This may be less of a problem when Sekac arrives and slots someone down to the 4th line that shouldn’t have to sport Mashinter and Scuderi. Nothing should sport Mashinter and Scuderi.
-I wonder how long Q is going to hang Panik out to dry for his oversleeping. The broadcast, and apparently the radio side as well, definitely wanted you to know why Panik was de facto suspended for this one. Yes, it’s unprofessional but it’s certainly not worth letting it linger. But do you have to, do you have to….
-Generally, it’s been proven that faceoffs don’t really connect to possession teams or winning. However, I feel like they do make some difference when you have two very good possession teams playing each other. The Hawks won 16 of 48 draws all night. They were chasing all night. These two are connected, but it only matters when a team gets this dominated at the dot.
-No, you can’t play the puck when you’re standing in the box. This is a rule, and it’s kind of amazing how much of the Hawks’ media didn’t know this.
-I really enjoyed Q trying to argue that too many men penalty towards the end of the 3rd, because I’m not sure I’ve seen a more obvious call.
-I’m fairly sure that Victor Hedman passes the puck to himself on the other side of the ice, such is his activity level when he’s playing well.
This was certainly one the opponent was more charged up for than the Hawks. They were always going to be, and that’s cool. The Bolts are playing as well as anyone right now and certainly look to be rounding into the Caps’ biggest challengers. I sort of wonder what the Hawks do from here. We know this is the time of year they throttle back into third gear. There’s the break looming in just three more games. This streak was a response to a couple stinkers on either side of Christmas, and then became something they wanted to push as far as it would go. Wouldn’t be shocked if there isn’t some middling hockey coming pretty soon, and I’m alos pretty sure it won’t matter.