Hawks v. Blues – 5 Thoughts
It's Thanksgiving here in Canada (Happy Thanksgiving to my fellow Canucks), so I'll make this short as I'm off to spend time with the family.
The Hawks and Blues battle tonight at 8 pm EST.
St. Louis was victim to the Winnipeg Jets' crazy-good offense in their first game, falling 5-1.
The Hawks, on the other hand, snuck out a 4-3 OT win in Ottawa the other night.
Here are 5 quick thoughts leading up to the game tonight:
1) Chicago will need to play much better overall vs. the Blues, specifically in their own end, as well as limiting turnovers all over the ice.
They were able to get by playing the Senators, but it's not going to work against a team like St. Louis, and definitely not against the Leafs, their opponent tomorrow.
The Hawks had 17 giveaways in Ottawa the other night and gave up 10 high danger chances. Look for the team to buckle down now that some of the nerves are out of the way of game #1.
2) Watch for a couple changes for tonight's game in the Hawks lineup. I would suspect Hayden and/or Davidson will be inserted in the lineup.
I will be interested to see how they Hawks centres match up vs. St. Louis has an impressive group of pivots in O'Reilly, Schenn, Bozak and rookie Robert Thomas.
Meanwhile, the Hawks have Toews, Schmaltz, Anisimov and Johnson (or Kruger). The West is stacked at C and Hawks will need to see more out of a guy like Schmaltz to keep up every night.
3) Cam Ward gets the nod again tonight. He settled in nicely after a few goals in Ottawa.
Therefore, it looks like Forsberg will start vs. the Leafs tomorrow. It will be déjà vu for Anton Forsberg; his first game of the year last year was a 4-3 OTL in Toronto (I was at the game) where he played really well at times.
The Leafs are even more powerful this year but didn't play well the other night against Montreal and will be coming off of a back-to-back as they take on Ottawa tonight.
All I can say is thankfully Forsberg is healthy. I wouldn't want to subject Colin Delia to the potent Maple Leafs.
4) I would love to see a few more penalties on both sides (weird thing to say, I know) this game to be able to see the Hawks get into a groove with the PP and PK.
I liked the way the powerplay looked in the preseason, but vs. Ottawa, it was pretty lackluster.
The penalty kill will be more important and no better opponent to gain some confidence from tonight; the Blues were a measly 15.4% last year, good for 30th in the NHL.
Meanwhile, tomorrow's opponent (Leafs) was a whopping 25% last year, which ranked 2nd in the league – and this was pre-John Tavares. Yikes.
5) Is the Captain for real? Jonathan Toews had a heck of a game. He looked like vintage "Tazer" in game #1. I'm intrigued to see if this is what we can expect now or was he running off of adrenaline.
On the opposite end, I would like to see a better 60 mins (or 20-22 mins) effort overall from Patrick Kane. I'm chalking it up to him being sick, catching that team cold because he did not look himself the other night.
Enjoy game #2, everyone!
See ya out there,