Black Clouds and Silver Linings - Blackhawks 6, Oilers 3
The Edmonton Oilers, who've so far this season been channeling the glory days of the franchise, came to pay the Chicago Blackhawks a visit at the United Center on what you'll never not hear Pat and Ed call a "wonderful six o' clock start." By now, you're aware of the turnaround going on in Edmonton with youth being served and having it all tied together by the wily veteran Ryan Smyth and the brilliant goaltending of town drunk Nikolai Khabibulin. While Edmonton clearly deserves credit for their hot start and their future looks bright, the general consensus (read: my opinion) is that they're probably going to crash back to Earth relatively soon.
Meanwhile, our heroes are coming off of a two victories over the sputtering Calgary Flames and the train wreck that is the Columbus Blue Jackets. Are the Blackhawks close to regaining their bearings or are we in for a bumpy ride the rest of the way? The Hawks were once again without Dave Bolland and with John Scott. Let's find out by starting the yays, the blarghs and the fjurgen:
The Steve Montador experiment seems to be working. He scored a highlight reel goal just seconds after Jonathan Toews roofed one past our old vodka-swilling comrade and then added a power play goal where he simply stood in front of the net and deflected a slapshot in. That's three goals in the last two games for Montador. Jonathan Toews added his second goal shortly after the puck dropped to begin the second period by poking a lingering puck into the net.
The Hawks scored a power play goal, as mentioned earlier, which is a nice sign. We all want the power play to be dangerous and I don't really know what to make of this Montador as a forward business. It's worked out so far but at some point the Hawks' best players will have to figure out a way to convert on the power play just enough to ensure that it's a weapon the Hawks can use to get a big goal when they need it. The good news in all the special teams woe is that the Hawks are one of the best teams in scoring goals when 5-on-5. Since that's where most of the game is played, I give that a 'yay'.
Something feels kind of off. I know, hard hitting analysis right? That's why you folks keep coming back. I can't put my finger on it. Maybe it is the special teams. Maybe it's that the team still feels like it's trying to get to know each other. Any way you can slice it, things will need to get tighter if this is going to be a Stanley Cup contender. Is it a dick move to complain about a team after a six goal outburst against what right now is one of the stingiest teams in the NHL when it comes to goals against? Maybe. But to ignore the areas where the Hawks need to improve is a type of Al-Yellonism I won't be a part of.
Another thing - the propensity of this team to throw a blind pass to the middle of the ice in their own zone is shocking and it needs to stop. I don't care if you're Duncan Keith or Marcus Kruger. That kind of shit is something a drunk person does while playing NHL 12. Stop it.
The ugly begins and ends with Brent Seabrook. First he got a stick right below his eye and shortly after that he lost and edge and crashed into the end boards knee first. He limped off the ice and immediately went back to the dressing room, never to return. All signs point to this thing keeping him on the sidelines for a while. That's just speculation on my part and I hope I'm wrong and that his patella is made of adamantium steel, but it's not.
Even worse, when someone like Seabrook goes down early in a game with an injury and your sixth defenseman is the "versatile" John Scott, you've dug a deep hole for the other four guys on the back line. It didn't bite the Hawks tonight, thankfully. It looks like Joel Quenneville's going to have to head down to the kennel and yank either Sami Lepisto or Old Donald out of there. Seems like John Scott is going to continue to play dress up for awhile. Get used it.
Next up, the Blackhawks head west to start the dreaded circus trip and take on the beloved Vancouver Canucks. Games between these two are generally a real snooze so good luck staying up for it.