In the Hawks’ quest to make me look like a Grade-A moron (because that’s totally the only reason they’re doing it, duh), tonight wasn’t as authoritative as the win over the Kings or the measure of testicular fortitude that the comeback over Winnipeg was. It actually had the feel, if you’ll excuse the comparison, of how the Jordan Bulls went about wins in their heyday. An early thrust to see if they couldn’t end that one early, and when that didn’t work sort of biding their time until a short, unstoppable burst towards the end of the game that ends proceedings.
While the Hawks didn’t smother the Canucks in the 1st, they were certainly more in control and would have gotten out of it with a 1-0 lead or more if they hadn’t hit a post and THOU WHO SHALL NOT BE NAMED didn’t serve up an equalizer like a virgin to a volcano. The Canucks were much improved in the 2nd without looking a constant menace, and because they didn’t take advantage it only took the Hawks two 3rd period minutes to cinch this one.
Anyway, let’s do it:
The Two Obs
-Clearly, the 4th line has to lead off any summation of this game. Not that I track this stuff that closely, but I can’t remember the last time, if ever, that two members of the 4th line were named stars of the game.
You know I want to get to Teuvo, but let’s pause on that for a second. On the front page of tonight’s Indian I remarked that two years ago we loved how Frolik and Kruger made the Hawks’ 4th line a real force. Last year, we watched as the 4th line didn’t miss too much of a beat when it was Smith and Kruger. Just a few weeks ago, it was Nordstrom and Kruger that we watched intently, or Shaw and Kruger. Now it’s Teuvo and Kruger. Anyone sense a theme?
It’s not that I haven’t always liked Kruger, but there have been times where I wonder if he can’t do more. Fuck that noise. The Wings always used to boast about how much Kris Draper meant to their Cup-winning teams, and we used to scoff because he was a whining diving dipshit. Or so we thought. Well, here is the Hawks’ Draper, and look at how valuable he is.
I also wondered if it made sense that the Hawks had told Phillip Danault to model his game after Kruger, as Chris Block wrote last year. I thought Danault had a higher ceiling. Yeah, no one’s going to complain if the Hawks get a second Kruger. He absolutely cannot be a part of the purge in the summer, and I think the Hawks know that.
-Now to Teuvo. His goal stemmed from a great cycle and most of all a pass to Kruger from the wall to the crease that I really don’t know how many other players would even conceive much less be able to put on tape. The angle on it couldn’t have been tighter and there were sticks to be evaded. Didn’t matter to him.
But what separates Teuvo, and the reason he’s entered the Q Circle of Trust that Pirri, Morin, and Hayes couldn’t crack, is the third goal. It was Teuvo’s back-pressure that forced Horvat into Kruger. Horvat had no other option because Teuvo closed off all passing lanes and Kruger just had to strip him, which he did.
If you’ll allow another Wings comparison, when Datsyuk first came up he was on the 4th line, as the Wings knew they had this weapon there that no other 4th line was going to be able to live with. And he was defensively aware enough to not get killed. Well, I’m not saying Teuvo is going to be Datsyuk, but…
-This was also Kimmo Timonen’s best game, and they have been ramping up of late. This was far more aggressive than we’ve seen him, happy to pinch to keep plays going and also tying off things in his own zone. It’s pretty clear he’s going to have to be the #5 d-man, because…
-Michal Rozsival… there’s just nothing else I can say at this moment. I will say Keith then played it kind of weird. He jumped at Dorsett’s shot-fake like he was guarding Nicola Mirotic’s ball fakes, which means he wasn’t particularly interested in blocking the shot. That second in the air left him open for Dorsett going around him to open up another lane, which I don’t think he would have had if Keith had just stayed planted. But of course, no one would be in that situation if his partner hadn’t barfed up most of his large intestine.
-I could nitpick about giving up another 36 shots, but it didn’t ever feel like Corey Crawford was under complete siege. And he probably needed a game like this after his past few starts.
-I got a kick out Mark Lazerus’s piece about Kris Versteeg, and how he can only play with Patrick Kane because “they both see the game the same way.” Yeah, I think lots of players can see the game the way Kane does, but they also know that they aren’t nearly skilled enough to pull it off and have to find another way. Versteeg is not this clued in. He needs to be on the bottom six, facing bottom pairing d-men, where his silly bullshit might actually come off. Because top-pairing d-men are laughing at him.
-The only time I noticed the Sedins tonight is when Rozsival got stuck out there against them. Hi Johnny Oduya!
-This Central race could be a real mess this time tomorrow. The Hawks have the biggest gimme putt you can get against the Sabres, and the Blues are in Dallas to face a Stars team that’s through as well. If those two games go as you’d figure, the Blues and Preds would be tied atop at 103 (Nashville has the tiebreaker) and the Hawks would be sitting on their shoulders with 102 with everyone having four games to play.
Shameless self-promotion department: I’ll be on The Score 670 AM tomorrow at 9:40am with Jason Goff and Laurence Holmes. This will be the first of weekly spots I’ll be doing on middays, so please tune in before I swear on air and ruin it all!