About midway through a lengthy first period 5-on-3 in last night's 4-2 Hawk victory in Arizona, I came to a couple of conclusions: first, that the Coyotes are not a very good game, and second, in spite of the extended 5-on-3, this was a game the Hawks should win going away.
Pretty much right on both counts. Not that there was any great flash of insight there.
Two points on the road is always a good thing. And yes, you have to take those points against the bottom feeders in your conference.
Also in spite of the extended 5-on-3, the Hawks finished even with the Coyotes in shots (29-29), a major accomplishment for a team that's been underwater—and significantly so—the last several games.
And, Chicago converted one of their two power plays, with Richard Panik stuffing in a rebound of a Jonathan Toews shot. Both that goal, and the gamewinner scored by first star Lance Bouma (yes, Lance Bouma), were a result of parking a body in front of the goalie and doing business form there. Basic hockey. Not pretty hockey. But it works.
So all in all, it was a good night for Chicago, as they struggle to forge a consistent identity for a team full of new faces.
Clearly, a fourth line of Bouma, John Hayden and Tommy Wingels (who had a really good night) has coalesced and is making meaningful contributions in that role.
While the Schmaltz/Kane/Hartman line didn't findthe twine, that continues to look like a very good line, as does the Toews line.
Jordan Oesterle continues to make a strong case for a regular role—the current 6 blueliners seem to be workable going forward, Gustav Forsling seems to be gaining some confidence and minimizing his mistakes.
All good, but it gets put to the test Tuesday night in Las Vegas when the Hawks visit the very surprising Golden Knights.
I'll have a preview before then.