The Hawks continue to ride the shooting percentage snake. Tonight was also about as well rounded a game as they’ve played. Let’s clean it up to put a nice feather in a good weekend’s cap.
– Kirby Dach, you are our huckleberry. Dach’s been aces over the last few games, and tonight was the exclamation point on his current hot streak. We all knew that Dach had slick hands before he even got here, but the big question mark was how he would look skating at NHL speed. Tonight provided an emphatic answer. Just look at how badly he fooled Jack Eichel on his first goal.
Eichel’s caught flat-footed as Dach explodes through the neutral zone, then redirects Dach’s backhander right past Hutton. Credit A Little Bit of the Kubbly for threading that pass right past the forlorn Henri Jokiharju, but it’s Dach’s effortless stride that’s the star of the show.
On Dach’s second goal, it was almost the exact same play, just going in the opposite direction. Zack “You Actually CAN Spell Party Without Arty” Smith weaved himself into the offensive zone, swept himself into the slot, then dinked a pass to Dach, who once again outskated Eichel for a backhander. The speed-and-hands combo is going to be a nightmare for opponents if he can do that consistently, and it’s looking like he can. He ate Jack Eichel alive all night.
Kirby Dach is extremely good. He may be the cornerstone of the future for the Hawks’s forwards.
– Another game, another brilliant performance from Corey Crawford. Outside of a bad turnover behind the net that nearly led to a Sabres goal in the first, Crawford was about as flawless as could be. For once, the Hawks weren’t vastly outshot by an opponent (34–27 this time around), and they kept most of the Sabres’s attempts to the outside. There’s little more to say about how important Crawford (and Lehner) has been to this team so far.
– Patrick Kane has a nine-game scoring streak with his PP-scramble goal. That creep can roll.
– Dominik Kubalik had a quietly good game tonight, which makes the fact that had just above 12 minutes of ice time in ALL situations a bit puzzling. Yeah, I get not changing shit when it’s working. But I can’t get away from the idea of Saad–Toews–Kubalik and the damage that line could do on both sides of the puck. That line’s missing a finisher, and Kubalik has the shot to be that guy.
– Speaking of Saad, he led all Hawks forwards in ice time tonight, and rightfully so. He and Nylander had three or four 2-on-1s that they just couldn’t make work, whether because of a rogue Nylander pass or Saad’s lack of finish. Those two were so close to making their possession chemistry click that I get keeping them together with Toews, but it might be worth pushing Nylander down in the lines. He’s had success when the stakes aren’t as high. That’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Back to Saad, his highlight tonight came on Toews’s goal. After a bad Ristolainen turnover on the near boards, Saad crashed the net and, per usual, got stuffed. But he stuck with the puck and found a wide-open Toews in the slot. A quick flick of the wrist and it’s 4–0 Hawks.
– Connor Murphy looked good tonight with several key breakups. His sweep check on Lazar in the first prevented an odd-man rush. He had a strong block after a Crawford save on the PK in the third that prevented an open chance. When he’s healthy, he’s everything that everyone wants Olli Maatta and Calvin de Haan to be.
– De Haan was entirely at fault for the Sabres’s only goal, with an unforced giveaway to Jack “My Father Is Younger Than Me” Eichel. His entire third period was piss, but that goal was the only mistake that cost him. Something to keep an eye on, because it was out-of-character bad for him in the third.
– I’m done with Andrew Shaw, friends. Yes, he got an assist on Dach’s goal, but that doesn’t excuse the fact that he can’t stickhandle for shit and his skating fucking sucks. The best example of this was at the end of the Hawks’s PP in the second. He had an unforced turnover in the offensive zone that he parlayed into a totally unnecessary neutral zone hooking penalty that put Buffalo on the PP. The Hawks killed it off and all, but this kind of shit would get most guys scratched. Shaw did end up toward the bottom end of the TOI mix, so maybe Coach Kelvin Gemstone’s brand is on the rise.
Taking nine of their last 10 points available is fun. The way they’re doing it is fun. Let’s enjoy this fun for as long as it lasts.
Beer du Jour: High Life
Line of the Night: “He’s trying to get off really hard.” Konroyd on Dach