Our long national nightmare is over, as there is now an actual NHL hockey game in the books for us to cover, and it’s about goddamn time. And give the Hawks credit, the display they put on today is about as good as anyone could have drawn it up. Two points are two points, and the giant SAMPLE SIZE asterisk for any and all points made from here on out is attached, but even still, this was quite emphatic.
After a predictably lengthy pregame ceremony, the proceedings finally got underway after about a half hour of pomp and circumstance. An understandably rambunctious Kings squad quickly put themselves down two men, giving the Hawks a 5 on 3 for a hair over a minute. After some solid puck movement (imagine that), Patrick Kane put the Hawks on the board with a zero-angle one timer feed from Marian Hossa, whose name will be repeated ad nauseum from this point forward.
Hossa extended the lead to 2-0 less than 10 minutes later after a centering feed to a driving Jonathan Toews bounced off of the increasingly Kevin Corrigan-looking Drew Doughty and past Jonathan Quick, whose day would not get any easier after that. Less than a minute and a half later, Michael Frolik surpised everyone, most of all Jonathan Quick, with his decision to actually shoot from the slot off of a very nice pass from Marcus Kruger, who drew two defenders to himself and also drew a penalty that was negated with the Frolik score, and gave the Hawks a 3-0 lead at the end of 20.
A fourtunate bounce in the early goings of the second gave Patrick Kane a breakaway down the left wing boards, and though his backhand stuff attempt failed, Jonathan Toews was on the spot to clean up the rebound with a nice bit of patience. The rest of the second slowed down to the inevitable slop that was expected after the long layoff, and Rob Scuderi flung a shot from the point that eluded Corey Crawford, who never saw it coming.
Halfway through the third, Jordan Nolan redirected a shot past a sprawled Crawford after a scramble to bring the champs within two. But like a gangland style execution, Marian Hossa put a bullet in the brain of any hope the Kings might have had with a brilliant wrister off a rush at the top of the right circle through a defenseman’s legs and past Quick on the short side. Hawks 5, Kings 2, onward into the desert tomorrow night.
- How much more effusive can we be about Marian Hossa’s performance this afternoon? When last we saw him he was being carted off on a stretcher, surviving Raffi Torres’ decapitation attempt. Clearly the time off did him and his legs some good, as he was everywhere today, and an absolute bull with the puck. Living well is the best revenge, and he’ll have the opportunity to put that on display tomorrow night as Torres presumably watches the game from some underground bunker where he keeps his own fecal matter in tupperware containers because he likes to keep it around.
- Toews, Kane, and Hossa all with multi-point efforts, and the Hawks win walking away. Funny how that works.
- Marcus Kruger also had himself a nice game, once again showing a total lack of fear (and common sense) going to the icky areas of the ice against a brutally physical Kings blue line.
- There was some rust elsewhere though, as Patrick Sharp carred a -1 with only 3 shots on goal, and Dave Bolland was largely ineffectual as well. Both men sat around and did a shitload of nothing the last few months, and it showed at least tonight.
- Speaking of ineffectual, did Mike Richards and Jeff Carter even play? The only time there names were even mentioned on TV was by the PA announcer during the ring ceremony.
- High praise must be given to the play of the blueline as well, who were positionally sound, and got some surprising physicality from Nick Leddy. Niklas Hjalmarsson also showed shades of his 08-10 form, absorbing several hits to make an actual pass, rather than just firing the puck aimlessly up the wall.
- While Sheldon Brookbank had a rough day in shielding Crow on both Kings goals, if his mere presence keeps Nick Leddy off the PK, then it’s worth it. Either way, look for Michal Rozsival to make his Hawks debut tomorrow night.
- Crawford had a solid day, making all the saves he needed to, and can hardly be faulted for the two goals he allowed, which is all the team is really asking of him.
- Brandon Bollig did nothing to hurt the Hawks today, but that alone doesn’t justify his presence in the lineup.
- Sadly, it appears that TimeOnIce.com isn’t prepared for the season to start, so if we’re able to track down where we can get Corsi numbers, we’ll surely post them.
- Bigger upset- The Hawks actually converting on a 5-on-3 power play, or Michael Frolik taking a shot from an acceptable angle? Discuss.
- Today’s outcome shouldn’t be all that surprising given the recent history of banner raising games, and the fact that Jon Quick is coming off of surgery and Anze Kopitar didn’t play, which will surely change the complexion of things for the two times the Kings visit the UC. But it still feels good.