With only 31.2 seconds left on the clock, Patrick Kane fired a puck over the shoulder of Kuemper. It was the first and only time the Hawks found the back of the net tonight and was also just about the only thing that you can put down as a positive for the night. With Kane’s goal, his first Dec 28th, the Hawks avoided being shut out for the first time since a loss to the Kings on Feb 25th back in 2012.
Funny that Sam’s opening paragraph of the preview today was filled with such guarded optimisim (“they might not need top gear or anything resembling it to get past a crumbling Minnesota team”) because nothing resembling top gear was even approached until a last minute flurry to save their ass. The Hawks took lazy stupid penalties, couldn’t be bothered to adapt their plan of attack and couldn’t get a second chance to save their lives.
And in the end, it still has all the stink of a mid-January game that no one will remember in a few weeks after the Olympic hullaballoo dies down. If the Hawks continue to play like this, the rest of the season is going to be a long maddening stretch… but there’s no reason to think it’s anything more than a blip as the Hawks look forward to the ride home for their last game at the UC until March 4th.
- Well hell, today is such a mess that I can’t get our photo service to work or my “bullets” logo to show up. I’m sure you’re all devastated by the lack of mid-nineties District nostalgia. My sincerest apologies.
- Today’s game was such a write off that even Q demoted Hossa from the top line for a short stretch after taking a bad slashing call. It’s an interesting choice on two fronts. One – it’s taking apart one of the most dangerous lines in the NHL for the sake of making a point. Two – it let us see what the top line would be like with Steeger riding the wing. It was our thought that Steeger was a great pick up because he’s been a decent penalty killer. As of yet, the Hawks have failed to use him in this capacity. Even in a game where there were plenty of chances (more on that later) Steeg didn’t see a second of short handed time. That’s not saying the Versteeg experiment hasn’t been worth it. As we’ve pointed out in the past, Steeg’s line continues to be possession monsters and tonight’s was no change. Versteeg led the team in Corsi% (80%). We’re not likely to see The Red Wedding line broken up anytime soon but it’s nice to see Q play around with it when nothing else is working.
- Oh, Kane’s goal wasn’t the only positive note. The Hawks penalty kill was once again perfect (27th with a bullet!). Of course, the Hawks had the chance to improve that stat since they were all too willing to head to the box. For the second straight game, the Hawks gave the opposing team a full 2 minute 5-on-3 power play and for the second straight game, the Hawks killed it off. Yet they lost both games. So please, tell us what Q says about extended 5-on-3s again?
- Raanta once again showed he’s a capable back up at the moment but that he’s not the second coming by any stretch. Matt Cooke’s goal was just a stinker… but just about everything he does is a stinker.
- With Keith out of the picture, we’re once again reminded about just how valuable he is. He’s been brilliant defensively but in a game like this we see just how much the Hawks depend on him to get the game going the other way. The neutral zone was a disaster tonight for the Hawks.
- Ho hum. We might get word of a bag skate tomorrow.