The Wednesday before Thanksgiving game against the Sharks always holds a special place in my heart, if only because of the game in 2009-2010 when Marian Hossa made his Blackhawks debut and the Hawks kicked the Sharks all over the ice to the tune of a 7-2 win. That was truly a beating.
This one looked like it may go down the same path. Unfortunately, Marian Hossa wasn’t as accurate in his shoosting and the Hawks were giving the Sharks plenty of opportunities to hang around by taking bad penalties.
Instead, the Hawks merely beat the Sharks all over the ice 5-on-5 with pretty much everyone on the roster contributing in some way. The perfect kind of win to wash out any lingering bitterness of the trip to Western Canada.
How did it happen?
–I haven’t watched Peter DeBoer and the Sharks enough to definitively say what exactly his thoughts were of rolling his lines and not trying to get his top line away from Keith and Hjalmarsson. Perhaps he thought his team proved enough in its 6-0 road trip that he shouldn’t have to worry about line matching. Perhaps he was giving them a test to see how they would respond.
Either way, it shows he hasn’t really been paying attention to recent history when the Hawks and Sharks meet. Since the Kane and Toews era, the Hawks have handled the Sharks for the most part and any head to head matchup of star players tilts in the Hawks favor. It wasn’t until Todd McClellan tried to get Joe Thornton’s line away from Toews that the Sharks started to give the Hawks a tougher challenge.
Alas, tonight served as a case study as to why the Sharks shouldn’t do that. The Hawks playing as well as they did had something to do with it, but the Sharks couldn’t sustain anything at 5 on 5. It was a cumulative effect, if you will.
–The Sharks power play though. That thing is majestic. It’s almost a hockey symphony in motion. From their zone entries to their puck movement to their movement without the puck, everything is done with a purpose and it’s almost completely unpredictable. When I’ve discussed hybrid systems in the past, the Sharks are the perfect example. They can go from an overload to an umbrella to behind the net all in the matter of two passes.
It’s absolutely amazing to watch when it’s clicking like it was tonight.
–The old Jonathan Toews course correction has arrived. Toews once again led the Hawks forwards in Corsi and the eye test showed the zip in his game is officially back. There are maybe three other people on the planet that could’ve put that puck where he did on his second goal.
If this continues, a Hawks point binge of 7 to 10 games may not be far behind.
–Trevor Van Riemsdyk played like a grown ass man tonight. Van Riemsdyk was efficient in his passing and his positioning, made several key shot blocks and had an excellent recovery after Melker Karlsson nearly “posterized” him. He’s quickly morphing into a young Michal Rozsival that can still move. Imagine that.
The fact that he wasn’t one of the three stars of the game is borderline criminal.
–Mike Brown, still a knob.
–The Hawks are so much more dangerous when they’re getting scoring from their defense. When Duncan Keith was out, they relied heavily on the Kane line. Now that he’s back and Toews is rounding into form, things don’t look nearly as pear-shaped.
Even Trevor Daley is starting to look dangerous. That said, he still can’t help himself from doing something regretful. Tonight, after playing a near flawless two periods, Daley had a perfect opportunity to cap it off with a goal. Jumping up on a 3-on-2, Daley found himself all alone in the slot and an easy layup goal. All he had to was pick any corner. Instead, he missed the net. Badly.
–Another course correction that seems to be due will be Marian Hossa. After starting the year getting clocked on possession like his linemate Jonathan Toews, Hossa has started to round back into form as he was on the plus side of the ledger again tonight. Playing with Kruger and Marko Dano, Hossa had that explosiveness in his game and the opportunity to pot a couple in the first period. It didn’t happen tonight but it will soon enough.
–I feel like people are going to tire of Panarin’s game pretty quickly if a blue line turnover costs the Hawks a game. Panarin tries to make a lot of plays that you wouldn’t want anyone with a lesser skill set to try. So far, it hasn’t burned him. In fact, it’s been just the opposite.
Tonight in the first period, he coughed up the puck as the Hawks were exiting the zone and gave the Sharks another chance to get their first shot on goal. Panarin recovered, though, as the Sharks lost possession and sprung Kane on a 3-on-2 that led to Brent Seabrook’s goal.
–One more win on this trip makes it a success and with Anaheim looming, it’s ok to get greedy and just take the next two.