And that’s what they call the old palette cleanser. Coming off a very disappointing regulation loss in Los Angeles two days ago, the Hawks responded with a team effort through and through. They held the Ducks to a mere 22 shots. They never trailed. The game was really never in doubt once the Hawks took the lead and hey, even Johnny Oduya played a solid game. Progress!
–It’s amazing to think that this is really the first time Patrick Kane has played with a real-live center (other than Toews, of course) for more than 2 months in his career. Did you know Kane only scored 1 goal with Michal Handzus as his center? Do you realize the Hawks were the second best team in the league with Handzus playing significant minutes? This will never not be the most unbelievable stat from the 2013-2014 campaign.
Meanwhile with a living, breathing human being playing in the middle for Kane this year, he’s now just two points behind Jakub Voracek for the league lead in points. If his head coach wasn’t playing needless mind games for the first month of the season, who knows where Kane would stand. Alas.
–Optimus Grind hasn’t scored a goal since December 20th. Marcus Kruger hasn’t scored since December 3rd. Joakim Nordstrom….ah, forget it. For a team that prides itself on its scoring depth, that is far too long to not getting any support from it’s 3rd (or 4th line). The good news is that Ben Smith is still getting the chances and seems very close to breaking through. In tonight’s game, he had a couple opportunities from close-in but the puck wasn’t finding it’s way through. In LA, he probably should have scored on that scramble before Quick pulled off the splits.
Kruger and Nordstrom, things aren’t nearly as optimistic. Nordstrom is an interesting study. While he is defensively responsible, offensively he leaves a canyon to be desired. There just isn’t a whole lot there right now. He’s not very quick, his hands are average and everything else is kind of whatever. Last year after he came back to the big club after he put on some weight in Rockford, I thought there was shades of a useful depth player. Right now, I’m not seeing it.
There’s been a lot of talk about the Hawks being light with their defensive depth and rightfully so. But the lack of production from this line has played just as big of a role during this stretch of struggling hockey for the Hawks.
–Was there any doubt with the Hawks playing Anaheim, that the broadcast booth wouldn’t spend at least 15 minutes discussing the impressive number of hits that Anaheim has accumulated this year?
–Still feels weird when the Hawks play Anaheim and Teemu Selanne isn’t scoring goals on them.
–I’m not sure what a Pat Maroon is or why he’s deemed worthy of playing on Anaheim’s top line, but hey, Bruce Boudreau is the genius around here. Not any of us.
–Watching Johnny Oduya tonight, it seemed like he was trying to be much more active when the Hawks had controlled possession in the offensive zone. I counted at least three times when he abandoned his point and was well beyond the winger that was covering him, hovering in and around Frederick Anderson’s crease. Admittedly, I haven’t watched as much as I have in years past but it seems like Oduya hasn’t been as aggressive this year as he previously has been. Maybe this is the step in the right direction? Or maybe the Ducks are who we thought they were. Bears watching, I suppose.
–In Game 4 of the ’92 Cup Finals, Mario Lemieux cut across the slot and made a behind the back pass to Kevin Stevens who fired a shot past Dominik Hasek (or maybe it was Ed Belfour still, I don’t recall; I was 10). I remember that play vividly because I recall Pat Foley and Dale Tallon being bewildered as to how Lemieux knew Stevens was there.
I mention that because Teuvo Teravainen made a similar play in the 3rd period. While his drop pass did find a guy who’s also likely smoked rocks before, Andrew Shaw does not have the scoring touch of a Kevin Stevens. So far, Teravainen does at least one thing a game that makes you say, “whoa.” It’s going to be a lot of fun to watch after he has a full go-around and really starts to get comfortable.
–On to the Shark tank.