From the jaws of a DLR, the Hawks tried to grasp at futility. After allowing a mere 18 shots on goal through two periods, the Hawks saw what the raw force of a rabidly powerful offense looks like in the third. With Crawford having to take a porcelain seat in the third, Delia got shelled for three goals on 30 shots. All in the third. And despite the Hawks’s elder statesmen successfully throwing the puck directly to the Leafs’s top scorers in the last 30 seconds, they still come out with two points. Let’s try to clean this up.
– Brendan Perlini continues to impress. He had two assists, including one on a gorgeous pass to Top Cat on a 2-on-1. Even more impressive was how Perlini set that play up at all. He tipped Muzzin’s low-to-high attempt, drew Zaitsev way out of position with speed, then hooked a pass around Zaitsev to a streaking DeBrincat. His positioning was excellent pretty much all night, and though Andersen should have had his wrister, Perlini got to show off his puck handling skills, horsing Petan in the high slot off a slick Strome pass. Putting him with Top Cat and Strome has been a revelation.
– Through the first two periods, it looked like the Hawks were a bonafide hockey team. They held one of the most potent offenses to just 18 shots, and even controlled play for the first 25 minutes or so. Aside from the Forsling–Seabrook combo and a few stray Gustafsson boners, the defense looked legit.
And then the third happened.
What happened in the third was both woeful and entirely expected. The defense found itself running around without a rhyme or reason. The penalty kill was powerless. Duncan Keith managed to turn a defensive zone faceoff win in the last 100 seconds into an unforgivable turnover that directly led to John Tavares’s overpowering stuff shot. In the last 10 seconds, Seabrook, with all the time in the world, failed on a clearing attempt that he didn’t have to rush at all. At some point, we’ve got to see evidence that the Hawks can maintain defensive responsibility for 60 minutes. The Leafs are a tough test for that, especially when they’re in Hail Mary sets for the last 30 minutes of the game, but the 180 the Hawks took after having to yank Crawford was incredible, even by their piss poor standards.
– While Collin Delia didn’t look terribly sharp, he got totally hung out to dry. He faced a game’s worth of shots in just 20 minutes and still only managed to give up three. And I have a hard time blaming him for any of those goals.
On the first, the Hawks had Murphy, Dahlstrom, and Strome all looking at Nylander behind the goal line. This left both Matthews and Johnsson wide open in front of the net. Nylander managed to split all three guys and get the puck to an uncovered Johnsson at the top of the blue paint, who shoveled a shot at Delia, grabbed the rebound, and managed to get Delia sprawling out in pursuit of the loose puck after a backhander. With Delia stranded, Matthews picked up the puck and backhanded it in off Strome. Defensive positioning was to blame here.
The second goal may have been one he could have had. Rielly wristed a shot through two screens and possibly got a deflection off Kruger, but it never looked like he had much of a bead on the puck at all. It’s on the penalty kill, but it wasn’t pretty. And you saw Duncan Campoli take a huge shit on the failed clear that led to Tavares’s goal.
Delia’s rebound control and tracking could have been better, but he got less than no help.
– Crawford got pulled because he had diarrhea, so probably nothing to worry about there. I assume that his weak goal at the end of the second was the result of him shitting his shorts and choosing not to let it run down his skates. He looked outstanding in the 40 minutes he played.
– Dylan Sikura led all Hawks in possession by far, with a 56+ share in almost 14 5v5 minutes. I like the idea of him playing with Saad and Toews, except for the part where he can’t buy a goal. You hope that once he gets that first one, they flow a bit more regularly, because he’s a good skater with what’s looking to be strong positional sense.
– Jeremy Roenick was surprisingly decent doing color with Doc tonight. And listening to him shit all over the Leafs at just about all times was gravy on what was shaping up to be a blowout. He even managed to make Pierre seem less like the awkward weirdo from a galaxy no one wants to visit he is. That’s exceptionally hard to do.
Two points is two points, and it puts the Hawks four points out of a playoff spot with 12 games left. If Crawford stays healthy and the Top 6 + Kane keep producing, there’s still a flicker of hope. You’d have preferred the DLR, if only to watch the meltdown among Toronto’s piss drinking, toy fetishizing, cat-shit eating fanbase/media aristocracy. You would have preferred not wondering whether they’d pull out a game they led 5–0 at one point. But they don’t all have to be Rembrandts.
Onward . . .
Booze du Jour: High Life
Line of the Night: “Mike Keenan would have pulled him.” –Milbury, doing his best Birch Barlow impression to explain why the Leafs were down 4–0 after the first.