Did you know that buffalo sauce is melted butter mixed with barbecue sauce and/or pepper sauce? I discovered that today and it was pretty groundbreaking.
On to other observations.
–Even after hacking up a 2-0 lead, it seemed like it was going to take a lot of fluky things to happen for Buffalo to come away with two points or David Rundbland getting a regular shift in the Hawks defensive rotation.
Jhonas Enroth did not look sharp at all. Buffalo’s defense was not going to be able to limit the Hawks scoring chances. As soon as Nicholas Deslauriers missed his breakaway, you could have probably stopped the game at that point. Even had Deslauriers converted, it still would have taken a Herculean effort by Buffalo to keep the Hawks attack at bay for the remainder of regulation.
–Enroth was leaving rebounds in front of his crease all game. The Hawks really never made him pay on the scoreboard for it and it wasn’t because they weren’t there. They were just in the wrong spot. Mike Kitchen touched upon it during the intermission interview but the Hawks weren’t putting themselves in a good position to pounce on the rebounds.
They either had a guy too high in the slot and by the time he got to the area where the puck was, the Sabres had already cleared it. Or they were stuck too far down low and got tied up with the Sabres defensemen so they weren’t able to win those battles. It’s very similar to basketball players that can sense where the rebound is heading before it even hits the rim, making the rebound look effortless. The Hawks, as a team, did not put themselves in a good position on Enroth’s multiple rebounds. Carcillo actually played rebounds the best tonight which explains why he had 5 shots on goal tonight.
It didn’t end up mattering anyways because Enroth was weak enough that the Hawks found other ways to get the puck passed him.
–David Rundblad has less than 60 games NHL experience. It’s hard to imagine Joel Quenneville letting him play more than half of that this season. Rundblad was caught in between for the majority of the night. Whether he was miscommunicating with Duncan Keith on a simple outlet pass below the Hawks net or falling down on the blue line leading to a Buffalo breakaway, Rundblad was out of sorts.
Even when he was on the ice with Kane’s line and had a couple prime scoring opportunities, he still managed to biff them pretty bad by being unable to decide whether to shoot or pass. Like I said, I don’t see how he’s going to get a chance to make himself right.
I feel bad for him because it seems more like he keeps making small mistakes that turn into huge gaffes than someone who isn’t good enough to play.
–Jeremy Morin was absolutely flying on a rush in the first period. I did not realize he had that kind of speed. That still didn’t stop him from playing less than 10 minutes. Whatever.
Morin played the kind of game where he’s going to eventually rewarded. Like Sam and others have said, the puck finds him in the offensive zone. And despite his defensive shortcomings, I don’t think it’s out of line to suggest he’s already a more dynamic player than Ben Smith was at this point last year. The outlook, barring any kind of panicking or “message-sending” by the coaching staff, of that 4th line is quite exciting because whatever you think of Dan Carcillo, he is an infinitely better player than Brandon Bollig ever will be. So there’s that.
–Trevor Van Riemsdyk seems to have picked up the Hawks offensive rotations fairly quickly. Van Riemsdyk had no problem jumping down into the offensive zone whenever he saw a Hawk forward rotating up to the blue line with the puck.
He makes excellent decisions with the puck, never panics and has better than average speed.
It’s going to be very interesting to see how he progresses as the Hawks play teams that aren’t in the Connor McDavid derby.
–That line of Bickell-Richards-Smith has everything a meatball could ever ask for. There’s the “overpaid” hometown player who hasn’t lived up to their expectations even though he’s played the exact same way since before he got paid in Bickell. There’s the free agent signing who was championed as the summer’s big move and hasn’t made an immediate impact such that you can almost see the bullseye on his back getting bigger with each shift he doesn’t score. Then, of course, there’s golden boy Optimus Grind.
I can only imagine the range of emotions meatballs feel each shift that line skates together.