As was noted in the preview, Sergei Bobrovsky was never going to allow much tonight, what with his .970 and total of 10 goals allowed for the month coming into tonight. Fortunately Corey Crawford was every bit of Bobrovsky’s equal tonight, while the rest of the team never really had to get out of third gear.
One way to get a team that’s goalie reliant to open things up is to make them chase the scoreboard, and the Hawks did exactly that tonight, playing with a lead for over 59 minutes of game time. A quick penalty by occasional lunkhead Brandon Dubinsky and an even quicker power play conversion on a faceoff win that made its way to Artemi Panarin alone in the slot put the Hawks up just 32 seconds into the game. The teams would trade chances at a pretty even pace until everyone’s favorite set of penalties was called – a minor with a matching embellishment courtesy of Boone Jenner cross checking a flailing Ryan Hartman in a bit of 38-on-38 crime. A blown Hjalmarsson tire and resultant errant Toews pass allowed the Jackets to keep possession in the zone, where the apple of Fifth Feather’s eye Sam Ganger found Nick Foligno to the right of Corey Crawford from below the goal line, with the shot barely farting through Crawford’s pads. But 22 seconds later, Seth Jones would turn the puck over to Brent Seabrook at the Hawk line, leaving his partner Werenski exposed on a 2-on-1 after Seabrook found Garbage Dick with a nice outlet pass off the boards, who then slid the pass over to Marian Hossa where Hossa deked Bobrovsky out of his pads. There would be a couple sphincter tightening moments in the latter two periods, particularly any time even the struggling Jacket advantage took the ice, but Corey Crawford was sharp enough to make it stand up until Artemi Zoeller would pot the empty netter. Hawks 3, Jackets 1, and another day off the calendar.
- It’s not the least bit shocking that this Jackets squad very much resembles the Torts Rangers- no East/West creativity, plenty of competent if redundant unidirectional wingers, and nearly entirely reliant on excellent goaltending. Seth Jones and Zach Werenski are far more dynamic than anything Tortorella had to work with on Broadway, but pairing them together leaves the defensive pairings completely unbalanced.
- Speaking of unbalanced, it’s also rote at this point to see a Tortorella team taking tough-guy penalties (two cross checks that resulted in goals), and then seeing David Savard actually shouting obscenities at Ryan Hartman as the period expired.
- And on the subject of Hartman, he’s ramped up the weasel portion of his game recently. It could be coincidental, but he’ll need to keep his shit together in a week and a half to not end up costing his team.
- The possession numbers aren’t particularly pretty, but again, taking into account that the Hawks were playing with a lead for 59 minutes and not especially looking to burn any unneeded energy tonight, they could have been much worse.
- If Bobrovsky doesn’t win the all-but-certain upcoming first round series the Jackets are staring down against the Penguins, he’ll at very least push it to seven all by himself. He’s that locked in right now.
- Tonight’s win puts the Hawks at 107 points, making it impossible for any Pacific team to now catch them- not like they were going to with every team in that division being seemingly deathly allergic to grasping full control of the standings since the Sharks went into the Concussion Protocol as a team about two weeks ago. It also puts the Hawks 2 points away from putting the Central to bed as well. Any Hawks win from here on out will seal it, or a Minnesota regulation loss (or some conglomeration of overtime loser points). It’s all over but the ceremonial spilling of horsey sauce on Bruce Boudreau’s fist-sized bellybutton, and the Wild are in Nashville tomorrow afternoon where the Preds have yet to clinch, and they can tie the Blues after they managed to lose in a shootout to Colordado tonight. A Preds regulation victory would be quite preferable, as it would allow everyone to be spared having to watch the affront to the lord that is 11:30AM hockey, and therefore allow the Hawks to not have to take anyone that matters on the final west coast swing. The path becomes clearer by the day.