Vince Lombardi once said a tie is like kissing your sister.
And the same can be said of the 1 point you accrue from an OT loss. Last night's 2-1 loss to Edmonton was a mixed bag from start to finish. Encouraging in some respects, frustrating in others.
On the positive end, a tired Hawk team gave mostly good effort all night, and the game was there to win in OT, even though clearly the Hawks had nothing left after 60 minutes in regulation, on the second half of a back to back that started in St Louis Wednesday night.
You also have to recognize the strength of your opponent: Edmonton came into the UC on a four-game losing streak, and even without budding superstar Leon Draisaitl, they are a fast, talented team that was desperate for a win.
Cam Talbott was outstanding in net for the Oil, and turned away several good Hawk chances, and Edmonton defenders did a very effective job of jamming up and protecting the house and blocking shots.
The Toews line generated pressure all night, and the Kane line was pretty good, Nick Schmaltz looked to have gained a bit of his jump back, even over the previous night's effort in St. Louis.
Connor Murphy also jumped out. The Hawks got what they traded for last night. Murphy srtrikes me as one of those guys who has to play with a certain amount of edge—even though that means he finishes more checks in more situations than we are used to seeing from Hawk defensemen, who have traditionally been coached not to "run around" and lose position.
It seems like the coaching staff let Murphy be Murphy—and because of that—he was pretty good last night.
Anton Forsberg showed once again he can play in the NHL. He faced 40+ shots (again), made some big saves, played very in control, tracked pucks well, put the Hawks in position to win, and had no chance on the OT gamewinner.
On the negative side, I just said it: 40+ shots against, yet again.
While the Hawks were better on their zone exits last night, they were not great on faceoffs. In fact, take away Jonathan Toews' 58%, and they were dreadful. Artem Anisimov was under 40%. Schmaltz was under 30%, Tanner Kero (who is looking more and more like "just another guy") was under 20%. Possessing the puck starts with winning the puck.
The power play went 0 for 5 again, and was at times completely, and all too recognizably, dysfunctional—quick zone entry, turnover and out again. But at other times, the Hawks generated a ton of pressure and chances—Talbott just rose to the occasion and stopped them.
Part of the meh feeling this morning is probably the lingering bad taste of an embarrassing effort the previous night at Scottrade Center. Playing two nights in a row, and facing a skilled, fast and hungry team like Edmonton, it's going to be very hard to rebound and look dominant.
It was nice to see last night that the team still has a pulse, and there are some encouraging signs—mixed with the ongoing possession and power play issues.
I'll have an Arizona preview tomorrow.