Most of the season, and certainly during this now seven-game winning-streak, the Hawks have relied on their top six and Corey Crawford to bring home a win. On the surface, that’s what happened in West East St. Louis tonight. They got a goal from Hossa and Pantera. Crow was basically impenetrable. Two points. Dig a little deeper and you’ll see that the Hawks’ top six pretty much got buried on the possession charts. But when Crow is in this kind of form, he basically equalizes everything.
The Blues came to prominence six seasons ago and I feel like we’ve been writing the same damn thing about them ever since. If Schwartz or Tarasenko aren’t on the ice, to quote the book of Allman, all they really got is yes or no. They have no east-west to their game. Sure, they can generate shots by dumping the puck in, winning a battle and getting it out to the point and hoping to rugby scrum a goal or two. But there’s no ingenuity without the aforementioned two. While Yakupov may be a freelancer, that’s exactly what they need. I see no reason that if they run up against a solid defensive team in April or May, like the one that resides in the 606, and they don’t get a fair amount of power play goals, the Mike Yeo era won’t be upon them.
Anyway, let’s do the thing:
The Two Obs
-Keith’s and Campbell’s overall Corsis weren’t as bad as I thought they might be, but they were still below break-even. It felt like whenever the Blues had a flurry they were on the ice. Campbell hasn’t played well, as the adjustment to the right side and with a different kind of partner in Keith has him guessing a lot of the time. Keith can improvise and make up for ill-positioning most of the time. That’s his game anyway. It looks like Campbell is constantly having to decide whether he’s backing up Keith or playing his normal game. The way the defense is concocted right now there’s always going to be one goofy pairing. There are five lefties and four who would like to get into the play (though Kempny looks like he can do whatever you need). They’ll just have to figure out which is the least wonky.
-Speaking of Kempny, there’s a lot of games to go but you can’t help but be impressed. In what figured to be a cauldron for him he might have played his most relaxed game. He doesn’t do anything that makes you stand up and pound your chest, but he spends the whole game turning out of trouble and making a simple five or six foot pass that gets the Hawks out every time. Looks like we got a live one here.
-There’s not much to say about Crawford now. At this rate he’s not just a Vezina contender but a Hart one, too. Again, long way to go but whatever chances the Blues had he snuffed out in almost arrogant fashion.
-Ok, so yeah, I mean, the cover story is you wouldn’t want Artemi Panarin fighting late in a game, and man he would have been nice to have out there for that late power play in regulation to deny the Blues even a point. But our main grievances with fighting have always been about two stiffs who can’t do anything else and use each other to try and justify their meaningless existence. This was two actual players, with actual beef, throwing some serious bombs at each other. It was fun, even if it is dumb. So there. I’ve got a barbarian streak, too. Oh, and he’s pretty good when he’s playing hockey as well.
-And now confirmation bias time. Toews with Schmaltz rang up a 60 CF%. With Panik it was 18%. BANG.
-Only time I noticed David Perron is when he so bravely jumped Michal Kempny. Excellent signing there, Armstrong. Sure it’s going to work out for you.
-Once again the Hawks won a game where they really weren’t close in attempts. But I’m betting that rises when Crawford’s play levels off a bit. It may even out in the end. They still have a lot to figure out, which is a good thing.