Guess the NYE hangover hadn’t quite cleared.
The Hawks were pretty much where they needed to be in the first, smothering most Islander threats and outshooting them 12-5. Sure, a silly pass from Johnny Oduya to a covered Bryan Bickell at the red line and Bickell being forced into a turnover while Bangkok Dangerous marched off into the sea of green let Casey Cizikas in to give Long Island the lead. But the Hawks could feel good about how they played.
But for the last 40, the Hawks were all over and left far too much space for an Isles squad that isn’t bereft of weapons. The two goals they gave up from there came to the top line, which is exactly what you can’t do against this team. Sure, they fought back to tie it but were always asking for trouble in just being all over in their own zone. Not shocking the game ended when Patrick Sharp came too far over to deal with John Tavares, and left US-snub All-Star Kyle Okposo to rifle one home. That’s how the Hawks had been in their zone all night.
To the notes:
-Just about the only good to come out of this one is that Corey Crawford was at the top of his game, especially in the 2nd and 3rd. That should keep the Raanta-truthers at bay for a solid 20 minutes, at least until Sunday when Crow should get his next start and first at home. Assuming we don’t all die of exposure that night.
-The Blackhawks’ coverage was abhorrent all night. The Vanek goal resulted in all three forwards being along the left-wing boards, which gave Andrew MacDonald all day to get a shot in from the point. Sharp came over too far in OT, though you can understand why he’d be a tad concerned with Tavares moving to the point. The rest of the game saw the Hawks running around and not staying where they need to be, which left too many lanes open.
-On the other end, the Hawks fell victim to their occasional affliction of cute-itis. Sometimes it feels like there are night when the Hawks just want to put on a show instead of taking what’s there, and it costs them shooting and scoring opportunities. That old bugaboo of attempting 100-foot passes from a d-man standing still to a forward standing still reared it’s hideous head again as well. The Hawks are simply better when they move as a pack. It got them in trouble in St. Louis, it was much better against L.A. Some nights they just do this. Sometimes they get away with it. They did not tonight.
-That said, the Hawks did hit two posts and had they not it could have been different.
-Once again, Ebenholts och Elfenben drew the top assignment, as Hammer and Oduya were out against Tavares’s line all night. The first goal that the Isles’ top line got can’t be pinned on them. The second saw Kane get stripped by MacDonald, though maybe Hammer could have done a little more to not let Tavares get away.
-The 4th line had a very good game. It’s now half a season of Ben Smith, and I still don’t know what to make of him. Clearly a smart player. But his strength seems to be getting to the front of the net. Does he not enough because that’s been assigned to Bollig? Is he quick enough to be a real menace on the forecheck? He knows where to be defensively so he should be a better penalty killer. Is he just someone who can do a lot of things for you but none of them THAT well? I really have no idea.
-The Corsi numbers look ok, but there’s far too much action in them. You like Sharp and Toews being +5 and +6, but you don’t like them giving up 18 shot-attempts. It should be tighter than that.
-Michal Handzus has been the bane of our existence, but he’s been all right on the penalty kill. I feel like this 1-1-2 the Hawks sometimes adopt on the PK is specifically designed for him so he doesn’t have to move. Is that enough to justify his place in the lineup? I don’t think so, but they do.
-Seabrook had another Seabrook game. Some glaring errors, some physical play, and a goal that will mask everything he’s doing wrong to most.
-Patrick Kane’s line got clocked at even-strength. I still feel like any line with Kane really shouldn’t ever be on the short-straw of the possession battle at even-strength.
These nights happens I guess, and generally when the Hawks have been sloppy it’s been a quick correction. They responded to a poor defensive effort in St. Louis with a shutout of the Kings. One should think the Devils should be pretty worried. Move on.