Hockey

There’s Something Happening Here, But What It Is Ain’t Exactly Clear – Hawks Split Series with Hurricanes 4-3(OT)/6-4

It’s not a Hawks game if a late-period penalty forces the game to flash before your eyes, am I right? At least it wasn’t Andrew Shaw this time.

Honestly, I was pleasantly surprised that the Blackhawks were hanging around in both of these games, and last night’s win was really important for the Hawks’ confidence. There’s some stuff to like about this team, especially when we all thought at the beginning of the season they’d be much, much worse than this. Some of these young guys are really fun to watch, and Lankinen is obviously a much better goaltender than any of us thought he’d turn out to be. Are we a playoff team? No. But at least we’re interesting.

Let’s break this one down. To the bullets!

  • Obviously you hope Martin Necas is okay. The way he landed last night was super nasty and tough to watch.
  • I couldn’t help but laugh out loud when Svechnikov went around Zadorov like a turnstile on Tuesday night, and then when he let it happen again with some other Cane near the end of last night’s game. Speaking of, who’s bright idea was it to have Zadorov on the ice so much in the last five minutes of the 3rd? Much of which was spent in the Hawks’ zone? Or putting him out on the penalty kill or on a defensive zone draw whilst tied? Why does he keep getting rewarded for his hideous play? I’m not sure what kind of 4D chess Colliton thinks he’s playing but he should put a stop to this immediately.
  • Philipp Kurashev is turning into a great player, a really fun one to watch. He had a good read of the situation for the 1st period powerplay goal on Tuesday and was right in front of the net to tip the puck in. (That whole second power play line—all younger guys, by the way—deserved a nod for that goal.)
  • Dylan Strome made himself known in both games, which I appreciate. His goal Tuesday was a thing of beauty and he had a bunch of big chances in last night’s game too. He had 4 shots on goal last night, which is the most he’s had since Tampa Bay crushed us at the beginning of the year.
  • DeBrincat also had 2 assists on Tuesday and was a huge difference-maker in that game. He also scored the game-winner (and an empty-netter on top of that) last night. The offense has been noticeably better since he came back and it seemed easier for the Hawks to generate chances this series.
  • In both games the Hawks were abysmal at the faceoff dot, last night losing more than 60% of the faceoffs. I’ve never missed Toews more than when watching them lose draw after draw both games, especially in the defensive zone.
  • Speaking of defense, these games may have had different outcomes if the defense wasn’t hot garbage. It is unacceptable to let a team like the Hurricanes back in like they did last night, allowing them to score two goals less than a minute into the 2nd period. For the Canes’ fourth goal, de Haan and Murphy were for some reason covering the two guys behind the net and leaving Brock McGinn wide open in the slot to score. And they did not seem to learn from this situation because they were woefully out of position again just a few minutes later. Just the Blackhawks being the Blackhawks, I guess.
  • When the Hawks are able to make their passing plays work, they are things of beauty. Goals in both of these games and from series before came thanks to highlight-reel passing plays between the players on the ice. Sometimes, however, these passing attempts turn into passes directly to the other team’s stick, so that’s something to watch out for.
  • Brandon Hagel had two breakaway chances last night where he was actually faster than the lightning-fast Hurricanes. This is good news. Both times Brandon Hagel was unable to beat Reimer. This is bad news. If he learns to score on these plays he might be…actually kind of good?
  • The Blackhawks will continue to lose games that get to a shootout. They are 0 and 6 for shootout attempts this year and just aren’t built for them. They have to win in regulation to get the two points.

The fact that the Hawks could hang with the Hurricanes, at least offensively, is good news. The way they were able to claw their way back into the game at the end of Tuesday’s 1st period is good news. Maybe it was because Peter Mrazek was injured and they were playing against Reimer, or maybe the Hurricanes are just overhyped. But I’m going to call it good news that the Blackhawks kept both games close, even with their blinding defensive issues.

The Stars are next. Let’s see if this team can keep the good vibes going.

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