OK, this was the Blue Jackets’ B-team so temper your excitement when you see that score. That being said, the Hawks were not terrible tonight, and at times they were downright watchable. Again, I think we need to consider the competition but the Hawks did get shelled by the Ottawa fucking Senators not long ago, so if beating the scrubs of one of the scrubbiest teams is where we have to start, so be it. To the bullets:
– Cam Ward was not awful. He finished the night with a .938 SV%, but I hesitate to say he looked good, that number notwithstanding. The Jackets only managed 17 shots, and the one he let in was on a penalty kill that shouldn’t have ever happened (more on that later). So he did the job, yes, but he didn’t look especially confident or solid in net. Regardless, it was a much better showing than his last game. If this is the best level of competition he can handle, we’re truly fucked. But he was better.
– In the first, both Brent Seabrook and Artem Anisimov scored, and although I haven’t insulted or criticized them enough for that to count as an actual Fels Motherfuck, it was damn close. Obviously I’m glad to see them contribute, but I was a little concerned about how this will convince Q of his own genius in the ANNETTE FRONTPRESENCE department. David Kampf screened Korpisalo on the first goal by Seabrook, and after basically calling him wadded beef yesterday, that also is close to Motherfuck status.
– I think everyone was relieved to see Brandon Saad back on the second line. And that line was great—they finished with a 50 CF% but that dropped precipitously in the third when I think they stopped caring/trying. Through the second it was over 62%. Their passing and puck movement right around the top of the crease was textbook, and Saad’s goal in the second was a taste of what will hopefully come to pass this year for the three of them. Kane’s goal (also in the second) came at the end of a power play and wasn’t with Saad and Schmaltz but it looked absolutely effortless. So at least there’s that.
– The defense was also not awful. Well, Seabrook did trip over his own feet and fall down in the corner in the third, but in other breaking news, water is wet. HJ (remember, this is Jokiharju’s official nickname) had an 81 CF% with Duncan Keith tonight, and while it was clear that Keith had to clean up a few messes for his young counterpart, I was delighted to see HJ stay on the top pairing and get time and space to figure shit out. Even Seabrook and Brandon Manning had a 69 CF% (NICE). Sorry to sound like a broken record, but it was against shit competition. But the defense only gave up those aforementioned 17 shots, so it definitely could have been worse.
– There was still plenty of stupid out there tonight. Andreas Martinsen took an idiotic and dangerous boarding penalty on Dan Desalvo, which led to the power play on which the Jackets ended Cam Ward’s illustrious shutout. It was just oafish and unnecessary, and while the Martinsen-Kruger-Hayden line was mostly serviceable, the penalty leading directly to a goal will hopefully get this moron demoted and one of the other bubble guys can slum it on the fourth line. Is Dylan Sikura really that much worse? Seems doubtful.
So they ended the preseason on a high note, and now can exact revenge against Ottawa on Thursday (haha yeah right). Can they beat AHL-caliber guys whose head coach didn’t even show up for the game? Yes. Can they beat an actual NHL team? We’ll find out. As Foley and Eddie did not fail to remind us, tickets are still available, folks.
Photo credit: USA Today via Second City Hockey