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I Don’t Know, Lloyd – Hawks 3, Habs 2

Box Score
Natural Stat Trick

Coming into tonight, there purveying wisdom regarding the Habs was that they ran their offseason like a bunch of assholes, and that their success to this point, was largely built on the back of Carey Price. And tonight’s result did nothing to shift opinions one way or the other.

The Habs did play last night in Detroit, and it’s not like it was a hard-fought two points, beating the Wings 5-0 after taking a 3-0 lead by the end of 20 minutes. But even taking all of that into account, the Hawks looked like a faster team, and the Habs did themselves no favors by reaching and grabbing at every possible opportunity. Speed at the line from Marcus Kruger of all people pushed the Canadiens’ defensemen back, which allowed time for his countrymen to get in the play, and Gustav Forsling potted his first in the league as a result.

The Habs would briefly enjoy a lead after a bad bounce off Kempny’s stick deflected a low percentage Shea Weber pass past Crawford, and Markov wired home a shot Crawford never saw with him joining the proceedings as the late man. But Marian Hossa would continue his hot streak depositing a rebound from a Nick Schmaltz point shot right after a Habs penalty had expired, and then Garbage Dick scored a tremendous diving goal while he was being roped down for what would be the decider.

The Hawks tried to put an exclamation point on it early in the third with a surge, but Al Montoya actually played great this evening, much better than he usually does at rat hockey in Buffalo Grove, and kept his team in it long enough for them to make their own ultimately futile push during the final minutes. Hawks troi, Canadiens deux. 

Observations

  • This was far and away the best collective performance from the Hawks’ assortment of kids, particularly from Nick Schmaltz, who looked more confident to try shit from a heavily sheltered fourth line role. He as on the ice for 10 attempts for and only 2 against with exclusively offensive zone starts, though he did flirt with disaster by lingering on the point once the Habs penalty had expired. He showed excellent vision to change his shooting angle, and put it low and hard, but had they been able to chip it out, it might be a different tone in this wrap.
  • Part of that offensive proficiency can likely be attributed to Jordin Tootoo finally getting a night off. Tootoo has been above water in a very limited role, but his offensive instincts have always been non-existent, and putting Schmaltz with someone who can’t anticipate what he’s going to try is going to lead to problems for everyone.
  • Tootoo’s presence also begs the question on if Q deliberately sat his only real willing combatant, knowing that Andrew Shaw would be even more tourqued up for tonight than usual and therefore not giving him the pleasure of engaging with the emotionally conflicted crowd. And all Shaw got for his troubles was getting robbed blind twice by Corey Crawford.
  • The only Hawks who caught the brunt of the Habs attack was once again the Toews and Kane line, with both Ryan Hartman and Hinostroza, while facing the Shaw/Patches/Danault unit. Not having a consistent left wing is not an excuse for these two.
  • The Habs sure as shit do not get cheated whenever someone wearing the opposing jersey gets into their personal space- it’s a guaranteed bear hug/can-opener/take down literally every time.
  • The Circus trip now begins starting Tuesday in Winnipeg, and the Hawks will be on the road for the next 16 days. Even not having the benefits of matchups, if the Hawks have truly rediscovered their ability to roll all four lines and all three pairings with speed, there aren’t a lot of teams in the league who can hang with them as they’re beginning to display fairly regularly.

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