The Hawks took the ice at MSG on Thursday and took it to the best team in the Eastern Conference. Out of the gates the Hawks were playing with energy and a purpose that carried over from their spirited effort in Nashville. Losing nine in a row had all of hawk nation in a stir. If it were up to the fans Kane would have been traded to Buffalo for Ryan Miller, Q would have been fired along with pal Mike Kitchen, and Stan Bowman would have been hanging from the Sears Tower. But, come Thursday night Hawk Fans sat in front of their TV and watched the team perform like the that of the team they saw in the first half of the season with the exception of one thing: they played sound DEFENSE. Everyone top to bottom buckled down in their own zone and that ultimately led to success. They killed every penalty and reduced space for teams to feed their point men to get shots. The penalty kill last night can be looked at as the sole reason for the Hawks victory last night. Toews on a penalty shot, than Leddy, then Sharpie, then Big Hoss and at the 9 minute mark of the 1st period last night the Chicago Blackhawks had silenced not only the New York Rangers but the rest of the MSG crowd and the Ranger fans watching. I could here their thoughts from my home in Chicago, "I thought this team lost nine in a row?" The hawks showed the NHL what they are capable of. The hawks looked like a force last night. Im not going to lie to my readers and say that I was calm throughout this slide but I did realize one thing:the hawks are not getting bounces and their top players are not performing. Last night is a perfect example of how dominant the big 4 up front can be.
Some positives I took away from last night:
-Corey Crawford was very good. The quick whistle kept him out of the dogg house but for the most part I felt like he performed when he needed to. He challenged at the top of his crease, and on top of that he got some lucky bounces as well. Bounces that went in his net the nights prior.
-Marian Hossa was the best player on the Ice for the second consecutive game. He set up Leddy for the second goal of the game by using his magnificent puck control and strength. He also recieved a nice pass from Kaner for a breakaway in which he made look as easy as making a bowl of cereal. Lets also not forget his contributions to an absolutely stellar penalty kill last night.
-Like I noted before, you have to have production out of your big guns when your team is built like the Hawks are. 19-10-88 was good all night. They combined for four points, and played a sound three zone style of hockey. I noticed a certain number 88 who was phenomenal in his own zone last night, especially when he picked up a loose puck in his own zone and fired a breakaway pass to Hoss for the fourth goal.
The Hawks will take the Ice Saturday for a matinee affair with the cellar dwelling Columbus Blue Jackets. But don't overlook CBJ as they have won 4 of their last 5 including a victory over the Hawks Sunday opponent St. Louis. Captain Serious donned this game more important than the Ranger game for numerous reasons. The Hawks took a serious step forward beating NY on the road and a loss to CBJ when points are needed to separate themselves from the hungry teams bellow them. Currently in sixth in the West the Hawks can ill afford to not show up and grab points against one of the few teams on their remaining schedule out of the playoff hunt. The Hawks go into Saturday with a 4-0-0 record against Columbus, all games with a margin of three goals.
The recalled Jimmy Hayes from Rockford and sent down Andrew Shaw. The big man was good on his first stint with the Hawks and we will see what this trip to the NHL holds.
Thanks for reading,