As the final buzzer went off as the Hawks defeated the Ducks 3-1 last night, Coach Q was heard excitedly shouting, "That's hockey!"
That was hockey Q, that looked like old Blackhawks style hockey.
The Hawks played their most complete game of the year backed by another strong Corey Crawford performance.
There wasn't a lot to hate about this performance, so instead of "the good, the bad, the ugly" let's tweak that to "the great, the good, the not-so-good".
* Brandon Saad – what an unbelievable response by #20. He was all over the ice and took full advantage of his ice time with Patrick Kane. He helped out on the PP with a goal, which is an area where the Hawks could really use him, along with a short-handed, empty-netter to put an exclamation point on his game.
* Corey Crawford – what can you say about this guy? He's in the zone right now which is crazy to say after only playing 3 games in 10 months. His play has me thinking of how he stood on his head 2 years ago which saw the Hawks tops of the Western Conference. I'm not saying that's where they are heading, however, where Crow is in his game right now is extremely encouraging.
* Puck Possession – this was the best overall 60-minute game the Hawks played all year and that was primarily due to their puck possession. The shots were 38-25 in favour of the Hawks and they dominated at times; whether it was calmly breaking out of their zone or hemming in the Ducks in their own end, there was a lot to like there.
* Patrick Kane – Erik Gustafsson Chemistry – someone joked (or maybe they were serious) on the message board about the possibility of moving Erik Gustafsson up to play forward with Kane. Crazy, right? While I don't think it's ever going to happen, their chemistry is undeniable. What a pass by #56 on that game-winning tally to #88.
* Jonathan Toews – despite that egregious turnover that led to the Ducks only goal, I continue to be inspired by Jonathan Toews' play. The Debrincat-Toews-Kahun line has been the only lineup front that has remained intact all year and it's been led by the Captain's strong overall game.
* Depth – Luke Johnson received a call-up later in the day and found himself on the 3rd line with… Nick Schmaltz, huh? Schmaltz was moved down and put on a line with his old college teammate Johnson. As they were both centres in UND, they didn't play much on a line there, but there was some nice chemistry. By spreading out the "wealth", the Hawks looked to have a more balanced attack. Now, we just need to convince Q to banish Chris Kunitz to the abyss (or if they want to be professional… the press box) and insert David Kampf back in the lineup.
* Penalties (Specifically Marcus Kruger) – Kruger typically averages around 32 PIMs per season, however, in the last 2 games, he's accumulated 8 PIMs (4 minors). This is not good for one of your best PKing forwards. It's the penalties he's taking which as well you can see by his frustration knows can't happen.
* John Hayden – I'm normally a big John Hayden supporter, but I thought he was tentative and sloppy with his play last night. It's obviously just a small blip on an otherwise great team game but I wouldn't be surprised to see him scratched for the next game in place of either Martinsen or Kampf.
The Hawks take on the Rangers on Thursday and I will be back with some thoughts on that.
See ya out there,