I was thinking tonight right before the 3rd period that at this point, the lack of drama Hawks games have when they lead going into the 3rd have. They haven’t lost one in a the past season and a half, and when they’re taking a two-goal lead into a 3rd, you basically know it’s over. This would be the very definition of hockey 1st world problems, because this is what every fandom wants. The Hawks weren’t particularly spectacular tonight, but they didn’t have to be. But at this point, no team is better at knowing exactly what it takes to get two points out of a game, and once they bunched two goals at the end of the 2nd, it was basically over.
The Hawks win-streak moves to 11. And the thing is, they’ve never trailed in any of these 11 games. Not once. They’ve been tied, but never had to come back to get a win. There’s no rabbit-in-a-hat-tricks to this. It’s been so methodical it almost defies belief. While there has to be some sort of randomness to the amount of games the Hawks have scored first in now, it’s 33 of the 48 of they’ve played, it’s pretty ruthless how hard they make any team get past that fact. They’ve collected 58 of the 66 points on offer when they’ve scored first. It’s getting beyond reason. The Hawks are 4th in the league in Win% when they score first, but also have the most wins when they do, which is 28 that leads the next team by three (the Caps).
Anyway, let’s get to it:
The Two Obs
-Dick Panik opened the scoring tonight, which I’m sure will start an avalanche of narratives about how the Hawks’ 4th line is totally remade and is now the sword of Anduril or something. It is certainly more effective with the added mobility that Panik has over Bickell (i.e. any mobility) but it is not the dynamic 4th line that Hawks fans have become accustomed to. It’s three guys. No more, no less. It can be more when Kruger returns and one trade, (and a sticking with Danault).
-That said, Panik’s goal was a result of Erik Gustafsson’s play, and it’s obviously getting more encouraging with every passing game. While he benefitted from some half-hearted play from Dale Weise, that offensive instinct to fake a shot and then find Panik without looking is certainly not something you can instill. It’s the kind of play the Hawks were missing early in the year. What I’m sure the Hawks’ coaches will notice more is when he muscled Pacioretty off the puck on a rush which is almost certainly the more important part of his game.
-The Canadiens are so blunt. Much like the Blues, there’s no guitar solos allowed in their attack. And they have the pieces. Galchenyuk should not be on a wing. Subban and Petry should be off the leash. Desharnais should not be. What a waste. Their coverage at times was woeful. They left Kane and Toews completely alone on two separate occasions. I feel like before you play the Hawks those are two players you’d highlight to not leave alone. Maybe that’s just me.
-Kane had seven shots. I don’t even think he played that well. This is just what’s happening this season.
-At least it was a game where Crow didn’t have to perform any miracles in net. Didn’t feel like he had to do much at all tonight. Holding steady at .929 and 2.17. But remember, he sucks.
The Hawks go down south from here. They’ll face what could be a Predators team on the brink of oblivion, a Panthers team that is basically a mirage, and a resurgent but still flawed Lightning. This streak could go anywhere. Enjoy the ride.