The Hawks were absolutely dominant in the first, not so much in the second and third, but no harm was done. To the bullets:
– So we can all feel a little better about the top line. Saad and Toews scored, and even though Toews’ was a total fluke of him batting at a flying puck that then trickled through a classically hapless Luongo, it’s still better than nothing. Saad’s goal in the first was the result of him being in the right place at the proverbial right time, and basically capitalizing on a high-danger chance in the exact way you want to see it done. Saad had seven shots in the first (unfortunately only one after that but still…), and it was simply a relief to see some production and the drought ended. Don’t get me wrong, there were still plenty of bad passes, shots with no finish, and missed opportunities by this line, but they were good enough, which is all we really needed them to be. Hopefully this augers well for the near future.
– Kane’s goal midway in the second period was crucial. Even though it only made the score 3-1, it took the momentum right out of Florida, who had been kicking the shit out of the Hawks for the entirety of the second up to that point. It was looking like we were heading for yet another hot start where the Hawks then promptly shit the bed, but Kane’s patience with the shot showed his give-a-shit meter was at about a 7.5, and once they had a two-goal lead again the win started to feel like a foregone conclusion.
– Which brings me to my next point: why the fuck can’t these guys maintain the pressure and momentum beyond the first period? Is it age for some guys? Inexperience for others? I don’t have the answers, but this whole awesome-first-then-blow-a-lead thing is fucking old already. They can get away with it against teams like the Panthers (especially since in this case they didn’t blow a lead but only tried to), but as we saw on Wednesday against the Lightning, when they’re playing a good team this shit just doesn’t work. If this is how it’s going to go, the Hawks need to at least score 5+ goals in every first period, and then try to just not take dumb penalties.
– The fourth line was serviceable tonight. Bouma, Wingels, and Hayden all had a CF% over 60 at evens, and Hayden and Wingels even got some PK minutes. Hayden scored too, so that obviously helps things. Granted, they had plenty of stupid shit like Bouma whiffing on passes, but overall they were…acceptable.
– Who’s this MacKenzie Weegar asshole? His name sounds like that of a mean-spirited character in a Roald Dahl book. He pissed me off in the second period, but luckily it amounted to nothing.
– Speaking of amounting to nothing, the power play remained terrible. They only had one, and they did absolutely nothing with it, despite the fact that Florida is dead-last in PK percentage. I know the Hawks have had some success on the power play as of late, but they couldn’t even get a zone entry against the worst PK in the league so…that should tell you something.
– The defense was iffy tonight, in my opinion. The Panthers got 38 shots, and while there were 11 blocks and two successful penalty kills, there were enough shaky moments to keep me on edge. For example, Crawford totally bailed out Franson on a Trocheck shot late in the second, Forsling and Rutta on the PK were scrambling, and of course Seabrook fell down a few times for good measure. Yes it worked out, and I know these are the pairings we’re stuck with for now, but it wasn’t exactly a confidence-inspiring performance.
– However, Crawford is god. He finished the night with a .974 SV%. Yes, he let in one goal that he probably should have had, but come on, even gods make mistakes occasionally, right? I mean, look at the state of Alabama.
OK, in all seriousness the Hawks’ possession numbers were worrisome in a way that has become a shitty trend: 83 CF% in the first, 44.7% in the second, and 43% in the third. It’s definitely not what you want to see, and again it won’t result in two points against good teams. But, they needed this win just like they need every win right now, so even though it wasn’t always pretty, it was what had to get done and they managed to pull it off. Onward and upward.