It’s back. Our weekly feature… or one of them, at least. Let’s get to it.
The Dizzying Highs
Brandon Saad – Well this was easy, wasn’t it? Four points in two games, and when he wasn’t piling up points on the third line he was dominating pretty much every shift. As we suspected, Saad is relishing being away from the other teams’ top pairings, not that he did all that badly when he had to deal with them last year. A physical force, and turning into a premier power forward right before our eyes. While Smith and Nordstrom have been tested on the top penalty killing pair with Kruger, will it be too much longer before Saad gets his chance? I doubt it.
The Terrifying Lows
The Penalty Kill – While you can make excuses all you want, and point to some bad luck at times, four goals surrendered in two games is plain awful. The Lightning only got one power play chance and with the game riding on it, the Hawks couldn’t get through it. Not even most of it. Sure, it was a broken play with the puck kicking out to Purcell in the middle of the rings. But it needs to be shored up.
Marcus Kruger – While the stat line says he’s a +1, he’s been on the ice for all the power play goals against. He’s been woeful at the dot, which has led to those goals as well as St. Louis’s goal on Saturday. No one expected Kruger to be good at the dot, but he needs to actually threaten to win one occasionally. And while it’s only been two games for the Hawks and Hogs, Phillip Danault had two points last night. That’s a trend Kruger had better hope doesn’t continue for a while.
The Creamy Middles
Patrick Kane – Two goals, makes something happen almost every shift, looking like he’s playing another sport than everyone else. Ho hum, same as it ever was.
Ebenholts och Elfenben – While the combined +10 in two games for Hjalmarsson and Oduya doesn’t tell the whole story — they were on the ice for a couple of the Caps’ power play goals — they’ve obviously kept things pretty quiet at even strength. No bigger reason the Hawks have only given up two even-strength goals in two games. If they continue at that rate, I’m sure the PK will catch up. Hjalmarsson has been a little more aggressive so far, which is good now but he’ll have to be careful to not fall in love with his offense. That’s not his game.