Remember the countless times we’ve said “If the other goalie wasn’t standing on his head, this game could have gotten way out of hand” over the last six seasons or so? Today’s tilt against the Jets was pretty much the exact opposite of that. The Jets goaltending was atrocious. And the Blackhawks put this one away rather simply and easily. On to the bullets.
–There are few things sexier than Niklas Hjalmarsson getting off a clean slap shot in the slot. I would gauge his career shooting percentage on these types of shots at a solid 65%. Unfortunately, it only happens about 8 times a season for a multitude of reasons. His blast today, even though it was tipped, was an absolute rocket and Pavelec had no chance of stopping it unless it just hit him.
–A sign of a dominating team is when they come up against a clearly inferior opponent and it’s the play of the bottom six that carries the day. How many times during the late 90’s and early 2000’s were the Hawks manhandled by the likes of Kris Draper, Martin Lapointe and Darren McCarty? Enough to warrant a misguided multi-year contract for Lapointe.
The Hawks were led today by the 3rd and 4th lines. Jeremy Morin has given the jolt the Hawks 3rd line desperately needed and it’s why you don’t hear any pandering for Viktor Stalberg. It’s not that Morin is doing anything incredibly special. It’s just that he’s generally in the right spot and when the puck does come his way, he doesn’t panic. In fact, he probably takes too much time with the puck. There was a play in the second period where he had the puck in the slot and he waited about a second too long before deciding what he wanted to do with the puck. This will change as he adjusts to the speed of the game.
Meanwhile, Brandon Bollig had his first career multi-point game in the NHL. His shot, which other than his fists, is probably the biggest reason why he is able to play at the highest level. And he proved it today with a pretty nifty short-side snipe on Ondrej Pavelec.
Nick Leddy was also very impressive. Whether he’s going to a bum-slayer for the rest of his career or a legitimate top 4 defensemen remains to be seen. This has to be one of the major storylines for Stan Bowman to watch throughout the season.
–You heard it here first. Or maybe second or third. Brandon Saad will be donning the stars and stripes in Sochi.
–Not sure what the Jets game plan was coming in, but suffice to say, they may want to reevaluate. They have enough speed on the wings to give some of the plodding Hawk defensemen trouble (as evidenced during their few chances) but they don’t have the where-with-all on the back-end or in the middle to get those guys the puck enough.
They’re not going to cause any problems for good teams until they figure that out. And in the Western Conference, that’s a recipe for a lottery pick.
–With Calgary tomorrow night, it’s a quick turnaround. Time to move on to the next one.