It seems like it’s an annual rite of passage for the Blackhawks to jump out to a huge lead early and then cough up a giant hairball at least once a year to an Eastern Conference team. Last year, you may recall this Sunday matinee nightmare against the Bruins. The Hawks almost lost a six goal lead in that one, giving up four straight goals to a listless Boston team. The end result was basically the same. Kane, Panarin and Anisimov combined for 11 points in both games. The only real difference was an empty net goal.
So they got this out of their system early this year. On to other things.
–File this one under early season and hockey weirdness. The Hawks jumped out to a 4-0 lead but it was hardly in dominating fashion. Dr. Rasmussen had his first goal of the year gift wrapped by Young One Ivan Provorov falling all over himself. Marian Hossa scored his 500th when Michal Neuvirth thought Bruce Boudreau was behind his bench and it was the playoffs.
Meanwhile, the Flyers exploded for a 5 minute stretch where it felt like every shot was going in the net. In the other 55 minutes, they could hardly be bothered to complete two passes in a row.
The more I watch around the league, the more this season reminds me of the early part of the strike shortened 2012-2013 campaign. Teams (and players) came into that season with minimal practice time and in some cases, criminally out of shape. With this summer’s World Cup of Hockey, it’s no surprise that teams are taking a little longer to click. And the Hawks find themselves smack dab in the middle of that.
–Here’s something that Joel Quenneville and his coaches will have to coach out of their younger, inexperienced guys like Michal Kempny, Gustav Forsling and others. The cross ice pass from below their own hash marks doesn’t really fly on this side of the pond. Even when the Hawks were up, they were still walking a dangerous line by making risky passes. The only difference was the Flyers didn’t convert on those glorious opportunities.
A better solution would be to either skate the puck up themselves or bump it to their partner and reverse the flow.
–Speaking of them bumps…the Flyers are really excellent at crossing the blue line, drawing the defender close to them and bumping the puck off the boards for a guy trailing the play. It’s such an easy and low-risk play to open tons of space on an odd-man rush. They must’ve done it a half-dozen times and it helped lead to their second goal.
The Hawks had an opportunity to do that in the second when Anisimov carried the puck over the blue line. Instead, he carried the puck into the corner and got knocked off the puck.
–The main difference between these two teams was the Kane-Panarin-Anisimov line. The Cold Ones don’t have a good enough defensive pair to limit their damage. Ghost Bear and Provorov may be there in a couple years but at this point, it’s not going to happen. Even when the Flyers tied it at 4, you knew there was enough time for that line to do more damage.
And they did.
–Speaking of Young Ones, Nick Schmaltz continues to improve every game. He’s getting more and more confident with the puck. There was one stretch in the third where he had the puck and no one was going to take it away from him. When they did, he just took it right back.
Tyler Motte left room for improvement. As did Rick TochettPanik. Playing with Toews, they were under water in possession and didn’t really pass the eye test, either.
–Hossa was the only other forward under water but he scored number 500 and lived to tell about it. These are the important things.
Back to .500 and then it’s two days off before a Friday night in Columbus. So long.