"During the first week, I don't even look at the outcome. The second week, I don't pay attention too much either. The third week, I start to look at some trends. By the fourth week, a team is what it is. Not saying a bad team can't make the playoffs after a bad start, but you have a general idea of who they are after a month."
This is a quote (paraphrased) from Bob McKenzie's interview on TSN1050 radio on Thursday morning.
He's essentially saying toss out the first couple weeks stats and standings. Things change so much and good teams figure out how to gain momentum and find October success, while others struggle due to injuries or because they're just flat out don't have the right combination of skill/players/coaching.
I don't fully agree with the end statement that a team "is what it is" after a month. In a sense you have an idea, however, there are teams in the past that have started slow out the gate – whether due to injuries or just because they are late bloomers – that have seen success. The recent LA Kings, Philadelphia Flyers from a few years ago and the Boston Bruins from last year come to mind.
The Hawks wake up this morning undefeated. A 1-0-0 record to start the year and they should not feel good about it.
The game last night had a lot of ups-and-downs.
Here are my observations:
I would have loved to see the Hawks come out with a little more energy and aggressiveness. You know, like the Ottawa Senators did. The Sens blueline was active and it was burning the Hawks. The Hawks didn't look unprepared, and I know it the Ottawa's home opener, so they were feeding off of those fans, but I was looking for that type of hockey from the Hawks as well.
Patrick Kane looked disinterested and uncharacteristic with his decision making and precision 95% of the night. Luckily for the Hawks, the 5% where he was really good was his set up for the game-tying tally and his silky backhand for the game winner in OT.
The Toews-Kahun-Debrincat line was solid. Let me also say that Jonathan Toews looked fast, engaged and felt like he won almost every draw he took (69%). He almost… just alllmmossttt looked like vintage Toews on some shifts. It was exciting to see.
I will admit the Anisimov-Kunitz-Kampf line actually worked out. They dumped, chased and cycled very effectively. This was mostly driven by the Crossfit-engine-that-could, Kampf. I would take 6 David Kampf's for my bottom 6 any day. The guy is just flat out effective in every single zone.
Nick Schmaltz still can't win a draw. He went 3-11 (21%). Woof.
The 4th line didn't get a ton of time out there last night but was "meh". I think you see Hayden in there next game and/or on Sunday.
Speaking of ice time, Joel, Kevin and Ulf split up the time well with Kieth leading from the backend at just 24+ mins (Jan Rutta at the other end of the spectrum with 17+) and Kane with 23+ mins (and that fourth line all around 6-8 mins).
I kept telling myself all night that it's only one game, but boy I am concerned for that defence. Personally, I wouldn't have resigned Jan Rutta. I would have spent 2.3M in different ways. They are essentially the same group from last year and it showed eerily similarities in their incompetence as a unit. The breakdowns in their own end were appalling for professional hockey players. Like I said… It's just game one.
A positive from the backend is/was Henri Jokiharju. This kid thinks the game well, and I thought he was their best defenceman overall. He had 3 SOG, 3 hits and was even (+/-) overall 19:16 of ice time (3rd highest on D). I look forward to seeing him grow as a pro.
Special Teams both didn't look amazing. I'll wait to see more of a sample size on both. However, if I see a Gustafsson-like drop pass like tonight again, I will have a beer-sized hole in my TV.
I think we have seen the perfect example of what to expect from Cam Ward… every.single.game. He will let up a couple, then a few saves, then give up a soft goal and then make some great saves. I would say get used to it.
Sticking with goaltending, we should know more tomorrow about Forsberg. If he is out, even day-to-day, I would start Colin Delia next game vs. the Blues. My rationale is, I would not put him in against the high-powered Toronto Maple Leafs; I would leave that to the veteran Ward.
See ya out there,