So I guess closing with a flourish isn’t on the cards, huh?
The Hawks got the two points, and that’s probably all that matters with the Hawks in something of a rut this month (though I don’t know if all teams would consider a 5-5 record this month a rut, but such are the standards round these parts). But against a Pens team stripped of Letang, Malkin, Hornqvist and Maatta, you’d like something a little better than pinned back for at least the last 30 of the game, coughing up a two-goal lead that really should have been the platform to close this one out easily. That’s how it’s going right now.
Of course, it was the Pens’ grunts that did most of the damage, right after I belittled them in the preview because of course. While Crosby was mostly (maybe) shackled by Seabrook and Hjalmarsson, and a rotation of Toews and Kruger, the rest of the Pens lineup beat up on the Hawks 2nd and 3rd lines, to the point where Richards, Teuvo, and Bickell were stapled to the bench for most of the 3rd. There are some ugly possession numbers among those six forwards. Somehow Rozsival came out ahead when score-adjusted, but anyone who watched that game wouldn’t agree.
But I guess that’s asking “How?” instead of “How many?”. Let’s just say the break really couldn’t have come at a better time, and those not going to Columbus should kick up the feet on a beach somewhere and come back refreshed. Considering the road trip that awaits on the other side, they’d better.
To the bluffs!
The Two Obs
-So I haven’t had a chance to comment about the defensive reshuffle much. It’s kind of the same thing. It’s getting Oduya out of the line of fire, though I don’t know that putting out Rozsival’s fires is much better. Seabrook and Hammer took the top assignment tonight, or maybe they were picked by Mike Johnston. So I guess it depends on how you score this battle. Crosby’s line didn’t score, and that’s the main point. But Hammer and Seabrook were on the ice for the most shots against, which is probably going to happen as neither is going to escape trouble with his feet. That pair was on the ice for 29 shots combined at even strength. Rundblad and Keith were on for 11 combined. Rozsival and Oduya 14. Ok, Hammer and Seabrook played the most (Seabrook was over 28 minutes) but that’s still quite a gap. So I don’t know if giving up a ton of shots but not a goal is good or not. It doesn’t feel like it is. But on the bottom line, it worked. I guess I’m willing to give it more games and see how it shakes out, though aren’t you handicapping Keith if he’s babysitting Rundblad? Because I don’t trust Rundblad to play centerfield for Keith.
-The line of Kane-Richards-Sharp basically got clocked tonight, a combined -30 in Corsi tonight. The problem with this line is that if they can’t carry the puck into the line, they’re not going to win it back on the wall. And that’s a problem in both ends. Kane and Sharp flanking Toews works at times because Toews can do all that work, but Richards sure can’t. That’s why Bickell was an effective left wing for Richards and Kane. How Versteeg was… well, I still don’t know. Act of the lord or something.
-I don’t think Rundblad is a future stud who just needed to be given a chance. But there are things he can do. He’s got a cannon of a shot, and he makes a nice first pass. The problem is he needs a lot of time for either. But it’s two plus skills, so it’s something to work with. Wish he was more mobile, though.
-Tevuo went from his most noticeable game to his most inconspicuous. This is the problem on the road. That’s probably why Q switched him to wing for this, not wanting him to have to see Crosby across from him or even Sutter. But as soon as Shaw turned the puck over to let the Pens back into it, he may have regretted that decision.
It’s amazing how Shaw can play one good game (at wing, mind you) against what amounts to basically an AHL team in Arizona and he’s suddenly making Q go weak in the knees again. At least do us the favor of not putting him in front of Rozsival for fuck’s sake.
-Pens fans still boo Marian Hossa. He played for them for three months seven years ago. Let it go. It clearly wasn’t affecting him much.
Break time. Going into it with a win is better than not. We’ll settle for that.