Where were we? Oh yes, the part of the season where the Hawks go through a prolonged scoring slump and people start to get a little itchier than normal. It’s a tradition unlike any other. The main difference is this one is happening right at the beginning of the season so there’s no immediate baseline to judge this one off of.
In the previous two games, Corey Crawford and the Hawks defense were up to the task of preventing any goals. That wasn’t going to last forever. Just like this 5-on-5 goal drought for the Hawks won’t last forever, either. It’s almost like course corrections work both ways. Weird.
Anyways, on to what matters.
–David Rundblad has to have used up whatever goodwill he had left. Not even getting into his Les Miserables performance along the blue line in the second period where he skated with the puck from the right point to the left point, faked a shot, tried a spin move, fell down and lost possession, his decision making directly led to the Jets third goal.
With the puck just inside the blue line, Rundblad tried getting the puck deep but couldn’t. The Jets flipped the puck over his head and then they were off to the races. Of course, Rundblad then gave Mark Scheifele more room than he needed as Rundblad was practically telling Crawford what was on Christmas list. That was that.
–The Jets second goal was a result of the Hawks failing on way too many clearance opportunities. Hjalmarsson kicked off the festivities by predictably trying to fire the puck along the boards when there were two Jets already standing on the wall and a hard shot through the middle would have done the trick. Then Andrew Desjardins missed a chance. Trevor Van Riemsdyk blocked a shot with his stick but then couldn’t corral the puck.
If it weren’t for Corey Crawford, the Jets would’ve scored a lot quicker than they did.
Mercifully, the Jets put the puck in the net to end the Hawks penalty killing efforts.
–All that being said, it’s not like these were fatal errors that should’ve doomed a team to a hockey hell. Michael Hutchinson continued his Patrick Roy circa ’95 impression against the Hawks by pulling out save after magical save.
I’m sure the Hawks are saying all the things after the game about getting more guys in front, making life difficult for the goalie, blah, blah, blah.
The truth is, I’ll take my chances with Marian Hossa getting 8 shots on goal, Toews with 4 and Kane with another 3. Hossa, in particular, had the best chances on the night with two breakaways and one clear waltz through the slot. Hutchinson stopped him twice and the third time, the puck rolled off his stick. There’s a Hossa correction coming and it’s going to be ugly for somebody.
Even Bryan Bickell was dangerous with the puck tonight for crying out loud. This is hockey. Embrace it.
–Last year, the Jets defense was embarrassingly bad at preventing forwards from slipping behind them. Looks like things really haven’t changed there. This will always be their downfall until they shore that up.
–Tanner Kero certainly guaranteed himself another look. And of the three we’ve seen so far between him, LOCAL GUY Hinostroza and Kyle Baun, Kero certainly looks to be the most active and dangerous with the puck. Perhaps he and Teravainen playing together will get things going on that line.
It almost definitely will get a look.
Kero was very strong tonight on the puck. He made a lot of subtle little moves that opened up passing lanes and it showed when he sprung Bickell on a half breakaway and found Marian Hossa right in front of the slot. That’s not really a teachable skill. There’s definitely something there.
–In the fancy stats department, Hossa and Toews were above water. Kane and Panarin were buried. Maybe one day, they’ll be above water at the same time. Won’t that be a revelation.
–I realize with Keith out and Rundblad’s play awakening memories of the early ’00 Blackhawks, it’s easy to point there and say “See, this is why the Hawks aren’t scoring.” And it’s certainly not helping matters. But with the lack of bounces the Hawks are receiving and the goaltending they’ve been facing, I don’t see how this is anything but an unlucky stretch.
The 5-on-5 goals will come. The question when they do come, though, will be if the Hawks are still preventing shots on net at their current rate. Save for the Anaheim game where the Ducks were playing with a ton of urgency not usually seen in October, the Hawks have looked much stingier in the puck possession and shot suppression department than during last year’s regular season.
If they keep that up, they’re going to go on one of those 8-0-1 type runs shortly.