Iron Clad Crow: Hawks 3, Blues 2
Finally. Of all the things I missed during the lockout I think being able to hate the St. Louis Blues with my entire existence was near the top of the list. Mainly because as much as the Blues think they've earned some kind of place as an elite team in the NHL after last season, I can still set my watch to the Hawks beating them at the United Center.
Both teams entered the game unblemished and the Blues, who were the preseason talk of the Western Conference, looked every bit as advertised. Tonight, they fought bravely, after going down 3-0 but didn't have enough to get a tying goal past Corey Crawford. Crawford was excellent all night and even though his shaky play sometimes gives me the barfs he really came through tonight.
Let's talk about things.
- Corey Crawford was pretty damn good. He had some saves where I got the feeling he was fighting it a little, the result is hard to deny. He was huge in the third when the ice tilted toward St. Louis.
- Patrick Kane is playing at another gear. He wasn't as noticeable late in the game but his first period was off the charts. He scored the Hawks first goal on a three-on-none rush thanks to a turnover caused by Nick Leddy. Imagine if the Hawks had traded Patrick Kane and he was doing this for another team. You'd all be ready to leap into traffic.
- Dave Bolland won 56% of his draws tonight. And hey, did you notice David Backes? Me neither. *points to Bolland*
- Brandon Saad is not even remotely a finished product but I hope the Hawks give him as much time as they can. He's doing a lot of little things and I love what he brings to the ice. Hopefully he breaks into the scoresheet soon.
- The only thing the Hawks didn't do was convert a couple more chances in the first period when they were dominating the game. A lot of that comes down to Brian Elliott who was the reason we were sitting in our own pee for the last five minutes or so. I still don't really think the Hawks "went into a shell" as people like to say. I tend to think St. Louis, a very good team, finally were able to impose their will a little bit and get some chances. The Hawks were able to weather the storm.
- Barret Jackman put his unique style of defense on display which is to shove his opponent to the ground from behind and punch them in the back of the head and neck repeatedly as the play moves away. The emphasis with the Blues is that they have Vladimir Tarasenko now and as such can be considered a more complete team. As they start to lose more often you'll hear people talk about their defense and how slow and bad it is once you get past Pietrangelo and Shattenkirk. I can't wait to see Wade Redden get minutes. It'll be glorious.
- Andrew Shaw makes my ass itch but it's clear Quenneville loves him as evidenced by his 18 minutes on the ice.
- Scripted fights. I'm not sure if Brandon Bollig and Chris Stewart decided to prearrange this one when it was announced that Ryan "Lives In A Dumpster Behind The Purina Building" Reaves was scratched. What I do know is that in the first period with the Blackhawks eating the Blues alive, Bollig and Stewart decided to interrupt the fun and put on a Hug Festival. Why? What was the point? Is that toughness? Is that really helping out? Couldn't Bollig, if he were tapped by Stewart, have declined the invitation? Bollig played 5:16, the only Hawk in single digits. He actually did contribute offensively a couple of times but showed clunky hands and a general lack of skill that makes him who he is.
- I'm pretty annoyed that I'm not more annoyed. The Blues provided a very solid opponent and an entertaining game. It was the exact opposite of the Hawks-Blues games last year. I enjoyed this. Other than Bollig's pointless reenactment of Downton Abbey with Stewart this game had very little bite. I didn't feel like Ken Hitchcock was setting hockey back 20 years. The good news is there are four more matchups and they will certainly get nastier.
The Blackhawks are 3-0 for the first time since the 1972-73 season. Let's enjoy it. Go Hawks.