The sad thing is, however infinitesimal, that there was a good portion of this game that the Hawks played with some gusto, verve, pepper, whatever word you want to use there. But it might be a while before we see that again. Tonight’s loss leaves the Hawks six points behind the Zack Wyldes, having played three games more. Unless they take both the games in the next month in St. Paul in the reg, they’re going to finish second. There simply just isn’t much to play for the rest of the season, which is going to lead to some awfully snooz-y hockey.
Anyway, for tonight, both teams came out of the break rested and wanting to push the pace. The mini-problem was that neither teams is really capable of playing at the pace they attempted tonight, at least not for any long stretch. Thankfully they didn’t stop, which made for some wonderful entertainment. But there were a lot of missed passes, turnovers, scrambles at both lines, which did open things up for chances, at least for the first 40 minutes.
In the end, the Hawks were undone by two bits of bad luck and two bits of Hjalmarsson and Keith getting caught just a tad out. They also may have fallen victim to going a bit conservative in the 3rd period, only managing one shot in the last seven minutes or so. But I won’t hate on them for thinking at least a point at a Western Contender’s garden (in the shade) is a nice enough haul. Two shots wide that kick right back out in front, with Hammer on the first and Keith on the second not really having time to go from trying to front the shot to tying up whoever was in front (and on the second it caught up in Crow’s pads anyway). That’ll happen.
So let’s clean the rest up.
The Two Obs
-One of the reasons the Hawks can’t really play at the pace they were attempting is that they don’t get the push from Keith they used to. While he and Seabrook had a wonderful three minutes together in the third, when Hammer and Keith were out there they were pretty much buried in their own zone. That’s a tad harsh, as Pavelski-Thornton-Hertl are going to do that to a lot of d-men. But when they don’t, who will? Forsling played 10 minutes. Campbell was too busy trying to keep TVR’s head from going into the lightning sand (how many references can I toss in here? LET’S FIND OUT!). They’ll get the odd break here and there, and they can streak and open some odd-man breaks for sure. But how many times did you count sustained pressure?
-We saw Q pull the trigger on separating the Russian spies for a bit tonight. Both Dimebag and Scumbag were more inspired, not just looking to hit each other with cross-ice passes and treating everything else like someone just cut a beer fart. That opened up a few more chances for them as well.
-Can’t accuse Peter DeBoer of not knowing his opponent. Whenever TVR’s vacant gape came over the boards there came Logan Couture’s line. Which battered THE HILL into a 30% Corsi for the night. This is so much fun!
-Crow is going to get another L, but there isn’t too much more he can do.
-I’m not sure how Joe Thornton is doing it. The game looked a little too quick for him, as he was always caught at just the last second before firing off a pass or shot. And then he’s still making things happen and is out there for the winning goal. I wonder which way this goes.
-We used to joke that Patrick Marleau and Patrick Sharp were the same guy. One is doing better in his late 30s than the other. See if you can guess which one. Marleau still skates beautifully.
-When the spring hits, Q knows what it would take to topple the Sharks in a possible Western final and was giving it something of a dress rehearsal tonight. As deep as the Sharks are, they aren’t all that quick. Especially on the blue line where only Burns (Senor Burns…) is a plus skater. That’s why you saw the Hawks trying to stretch them at every opportunity, getting out of the zone quickly, and being pretty damn direct. If these two see each other again this season, you can expect this to be turned up to 11.