Proving once again that the Hawks can somehow beat superior teams while also losing to terrible teams, we’re picking up right where we left off before Christmas, albeit with an officially reduced roster of defensemen. This game also proves that sometimes it just comes down to which goalie is better/having a better night. Let’s get to the bullets:
–The Hawks took advantage of some weak-ass goaltending from Thomas Greiss, and honestly some of that was just luck, as pucks kept deflecting off Islanders defensemen all night but you know what? Fuck ’em. Gilbert’s goal was of the lucky variety, whereas Kubalik’s was a beautiful setup and a perfect reminder why John Quenneville has no business on the top line, and it should be Kubalik-Toews-Kane if CCYP is going to insist on breaking up DeBrincat-Strome-Kane, which seems to be the way the die is cast these days. Speaking of Top Cat, his goal was sorely needed for a guy who hasn’t scored a goal in what seems like years. Greiss got (rightly) pulled, but the Hawks had done enough damage and Robin Lehner was able to hold it down the rest of the time, despite the barrage of shots he of course had to face over the course of the game.
–From there, the Hawks just had to be good enough to hold the lead and they not only did that but they even padded it in the third with Jonathan Toews basically deciding he wanted to score, so he stole it along the boards, created an opportunity and finished the shot. Oh, and Matthew Highmore scored one too? On Semyon Varlamov. Hockey is just weird sometimes.
–Well, we’ll never see the back of Dennis Gilbert, will we? He scored his first goal (yay for you, guy), and managed to have a nice shot block on a PK in the second, and now we will never be rid of him. Nevermind that 44 CF%, right? HE SCORED A GOAL AND HAS THE GRIT AND HEART MY FRENT
–But let’s be honest, the Islanders got their first goal from a guy who’s basically their version of John Scott. Ross Johnston? WTF. However, not only did Greiss give up a goal to Dennis fucking Gilbert (not to mention the two other ones), as noted above, piece-of-shit Varlamov gave one up to Matthew fucking Highmore. Clearly not their best night, but you know what? Fuck ’em.
–I don’t love playing Strome on the wing, but at least he and Dach and DeBrincat are a line of talented young players so it sort of makes sense? They had a 50 CF% and a total of 8 shots, so this could very well be a workable line. Personally I’d rather see Strome and Dach centering lines so we have, ya know, a total of four centers when you add Kampf on the fourth line, but at least this isn’t offensive to the eyes, if it is still offensive to our sense of logic.
–The Hawks gave up 40 shots, which is still way too many. Lehner was up to the task so here we are, but it’s still not good. They also were underwater in possession through the first two periods (49 and 43 CF%, respectively). So number-wise they really shouldn’t have won, but you know what? Fuck ’em.
–The broadcast did their duty in singing the praises of Brent Seabrook and talking about what a “warrior” he is for playing through these injuries and whatta guy and whatta teammate and it was all unnecessary but not surprising at all. Of course Seabrook deserves nothing but admiration from this organ-I-zation and I fully expect Foley and Olczyk to be positively biased, but with all of the uncertainty around this situation I’m just tired of hearing the paeans.
As noted, the underlying numbers are still worrying, but the Hawks needed to come out after the ass-waxing earlier this week and play decently, and they did that. It was decent enough, at least. Onward and upward…