Opening Salvo: Hawks 4, Red Wings 1
[NOTE: the following was written during the 1st intermission. If the Hawks won this game by 10 and Carcillo scored a hat trick you can just skip over it]
Before I begin, a word on the Viktor Stalberg situation. I have no real problem sitting Stals. Quenneville was clearly not happy with the team's series in Minnesota, and I'm not sure what earned Vik in particular the ire of the coaching staff (aside from him apparently questioning his role, whatever that means) but they clearly saw something they didn't like. Vik had to sit a game, and he didn't like it and he shouldn't.
But that said, I do have one issue: Dan Carcillo still dressed. Q could have either dressed Smith or Morin in Gorilla Salad's place, knowing that sitting Stalberg down was going to sap some of the team's offensive depth. Or, Stalberg could have easily been demoted to the 4th line as a "message" thus giving Q a full complement of forwards. But instead, in some sort of ode to HARD HAWK HAWKEY Carcillo played and brought his standard 4 minutes of sandpaper and falling down like a goof. I see no reason for this. None at all. The one part of the Red Wings game that scares me is their power play and having a penalty magnet like Gorilla Salad out there against them is a recipe for disaster.
Patrick Sharp - Consider the rust off. Sharp got a couple of assists and an empty net goal, but what was more telling was that Sharp was finding the puck all over and putting it on net before even the fastest Meatball in the 300 level could yell "SHOOT".
Penalty Kill - As I said above, the one aspect of the Wings that scared me is their power play. The Hawks outmatch them easily even strength, but a Chicago parade to the box could end in disaster. The Hawks took 3 more penalties tonight, and killed all three. I'd rather not keep testing the kill, but it's nice to know it's there when you need it.
Jimmy Howard - he gave up 3 goals and the crowd was chanting his name, but a lesser goalie would have been chased sometime in the second period. Howard's defensemen were absolute horseshit and he kept Detroit in the game for 50 minutes.
Patrick Kane - Holy hell, I almost forgot to put Patrick Kane in here. But then I remembered, so here he is. Kane was seemingly everywhere with the puck tonight. He even attempted to throw a body check. Bowman should probably trade him before game 2, since his value will never be higher.
Andrew Shaw - If Joel Quenneville wants intends to make his points by punishing 3rd line forwards, I expect to see Shaw in the doghouse after his two penalty performance tonight.
Detroit's Defense - Jeebus, these guys were absolutely terrible. The blind passes they were throwing into the middle of the ice probably had Mike Babcock dialing up Nick Lidstrom and begging him to come out of retirement.
Marcus Kruger at the faceoff dot: Kruger took 11 draws tonight and lost every single one. You'd think he might win one on accident or something. Woof.
Speaking of woof...
Up Next: Hawks and Wings play game 2 on Saturday at noon.