Here we go again.
Banner raising. Visiting team comes out with more jump. Home team can’t recover from bad first period. It’s almost a rite of passage in a new hockey season.
With that, the 2015-2016 NHL campaign is under way.
–So on our podcast last night (did you know we did a podcast? We did.) we were discussing the current structure of the Hawks top two lines and how they could be a little top heavy in the early going. Sure enough, the Hawks top two lines were electric for the better part of two periods.
The bottom two? Not so much. #WorkingClassHero Kyle Baun didn’t do a whole bunch other than skate around looking to hit someone. Meanwhile, the puck was already gone. Bickell and Shaw, well you know how that goes.
Kruger’s line had a few decent shifts but their best opportunities came when Garbage Dick was getting double-shifted for Garbutt on their line. Kruger also was unable to convert a couple of primo chances where all he had to do was stuff it in the net. Somehow, he shot it wide of the cage standing a foot out.
–The defense, oh where to begin. How about with the most polarizing member?
Trevor Daley did not do himself any favors in his first live action. Daley played a key part in two of the Rangers goals. On the Rangers third goal, he was backchecking so hard, he couldn’t adjust when Corey Crawford came out of his crease to cut the angle on Kevin Hayes. Daley smoked Crawford, taking him further out of his crease which led to Hayes throwing the puck in front for an easy tap-in.
Kind of a tough luck play but he probably should’ve avoided the contact.
On the Rangers first goal, his stick positioning was less than ideal. Daley couldn’t decide whether to get his stick on J.T. Miller (the puck carrier) or Oscar Lindberg standing off to the side of the net. So Miller was able to easily slide the puck to Lindberg for a slam dunk.
Sam asked me on the podcast (We did a podcast. Did you hear?) how we’d be able to see Joel Quenneville’s impact on Daley. That’s an example of a play where if Daley starts playing those better, you can point to Quenneville. If not, well then he’s a bigger lost cause than anyone thought.
–You hate to make grandiose statements after one game but I don’t think anyone is stepping out there by saying if David Rundblad is your 4th defensemen, you have zero Stanley Cup aspirations.
–Corey Crawford debuted new black pads. While I always approve of any non-white pads, they do resemble the old Franklin street hockey pads on the clearance rack at Venture.
One thing I do wonder about his choice of black pads, however. Generally, goalies now choose the white pads to blend in with the net and create the illusion to shooters that there is less net to shoot at. I wonder if Crawford went to black pads to help camouflage where the puck is hitting his pads.
Crawford is notorious for kicking out large rebounds. If the opposition is unable to track the puck right off his pads, that extra split second might be the difference between ending up in the back of the net or floating harmlessly across the ice.
–Artemi Panarin was the story for the Hawks, as he should be. Panarin was exciting every time he was on the ice and had his first NHL goal to boot. I’m interested to see how he starts adapting as the league adjusts to him. He was able to make a few plays that just won’t be there after another 5 games or so.
The encouraging news is that shortly after nearly making a costly turnover at the Rangers blue line, he fired the puck in the opposing corner on his next opportunity.
So clearly he learned his lesson there.
–The Rangers speed had Corey Crawford out of sorts in the early going. I thought on the second goal, he had a chance to come out of his crease to get the puck once it crossed his blue line. He didn’t get a good read on it, though, and Hayes and Krieder were able to come in 2-on-0.
Seemed like there were a few other times that Crawford was unsure about leaving his crease too.
–The Hawks had a chance to tie but were turned away by the infamous “intent to blow” rule. Whatever, it’s not even worth getting huffy about. Let’s move it along.