The Blackhawks and Wild played in the least interesting Chicago-Minnesota matchup in the Windy City tonight, but in what is hopefully a harbinger of what is to come at Soldier Field, our hometown boys brought home the win. But when I say “least interesting,” I really mean it, cuz this was a snoozer. Let’s do it:
– The most important takeaway for the Hawks in this one is that they had what appeared to be a functioning NHL power play. Their first goal of the night came with the extra man, and it was the result of some beautiful puck movement that opened up a passing lane for Patrick Kane to hit a wide open Jonathan Toews in front of the net, and all the captain had to do was stand there and let the puck hit his stick. They got two other shots at the power play in the game and didn’t convert, but still looked more competent in that regard, which is a major step in the right direction.
– Toews and Saad both having the “bounce-back” campaigns we needed to see from them is extremely encouraging. Both of them were excellent tonight and seemed to be on the ice when the most excitement was happening. It would be a lot better if these two were doing it for a more competitive team, but for now we will take the best players on these squad performing well.
– Corey Crawford is all the way back. He was absolutely huge tonight, and he needed to be huge after the first period. The Hawks did play well in that opening frame, but still lost the Corsi battle, and from there it only got worse. Minnesota had 56% of the shots in the second period and 62% in the third. Obviously part of that is Score Effects, but overall the Hawks were not the better team tonight and Crawford was the difference.
– Biggest takeaway for me from the first full (kinda, I was flipping back and forth after the Bears started) game I’ve watched in the Colliton Era is that the Hawks are playing a bit simpler than they were with Quenneville. They just seem to have a bit more pep because they’re just playing more instinctive hockey and not trying to coordinate a system. Maybe that’s partly confirmation bias based on what I thought they needed to do after Q got the kick, but there is still an obviously different approach and I think it is effective.