At this time of year, and with the way things had been going, points are pretty much all that matters. You can worry about the style points later. Which is good, because the last two wouldn’t really have any outside of the 4th line and Scott Darling. The Hawks clinched a playoff spot, not that that was in doubt, and can at least claim a mini-winning streak. They did what they had to, even if it was by the skin of their teeth, Dave Mustaine.
On the other side, needing you goalie to bail you out against the dreck of the Pacific Division isn’t going to cause anyone to write songs. The Hawks gave up 15 shots in the 3rd period to a team with four forwards (maybe) and two defensemen that you’d call NHL quality. I think the past two games are more the Hawks struggling to find interest more than anything structural, as past games against better teams probably have been. But whatever changes they have in store we’re not going to see for another two weeks, so let us deal with what is.
Positively, the 4th line dominated again with Kruger back out there as we hoped it would. Keith and Hammer were able to keep the Nucks lone threat at bay, Shooty and Passy. And while they weren’t good over the 60 minutes, the top line found the winner when presented the chance. And they got goals from three lines. So hey, you got to have a good batting practice if you want to do well against live pitching, right? Let’s say that’s what the past two nights were.
The Two Obs
-Your ice time leader among the forwards tonight was Teuvo. Not sure I’ve ever written that before. At least Q didn’t lose faith when it was Teuvo, in combination with Bartolo and Ostertag, got outfought by Baertschi for the Nucks’ equalizer. It’s helped that Teuvo plays on both special teams and was bumped to the 2nd line, but hey that’s our Special Boy (TM).
-Speaking of the 2nd line, are we buying the Hawks’ story that Anisimov has a lower-body injury? I’m not sure I am, given what his production has been. Then again, that might help explain it.
-TVR had a strong game tonight, and that’s not the first time that’s happened when paired with Ehrhoff. Which means we can all prepare for Ehrhoff to be scratched for the next two or three games. Or possibly the rest of the season. TVR appears more comfortable when he can be aggressive offensively, which isn’t probably what you should do with Ehrhoff, but it worked for one night.
-Viktor Smits wasn’t terrible all game, but both Vancouver goals sprang from him failing to do what the two things he’s supposed to do well. He got outfought in the corner for the first, and couldn’t clean up in front on the second. There’s nothing here, and Q should stop pretending there is.
-They’re going to have to get into Panarin’s ear about how long he wants to hold onto the puck lately. If he tries that in Game 1 or later, especially if it’s LA or STL in the 1st round, he’s going to end up looking like a liquid.
-That was some backchecking effort from Passy Twin on Ladd’s winner. He had a great view of his man netting the winner though. The Sedins looked disinterested all night, through the combination of Keith and Hammer up their ass and having nothing to play for. Can’t say I blame them too much.
-Darling once again held his team in it, and you can’t ask for more. But asking Darling to do that against better teams is not going to end well. We’ll see how he handles a third start in four nights against an at least competent (barely) Wild team on Tuesday.
-The power play didn’t score again, and usually I wouldn’t worry about it. The Hawks have won a couple Cups with their power play unable to break wind, but this year feels a little different.
-Good lord the Canucks are a mess. It’s kind of gratifying.