Hawks Proving Possible to Show AND Lack Color at the Same Time
Happy Thanksgiving! I hope all of you had a great, long weekend filled with fantastic food and loving family members.
There was two Blackhawks games on this wild weekend for sports where in which hockey tends to fall on the backburner, but alas, analysis and opinions are still necessary! The Blackhawks played both games at the UC this weekend after their long road trip. They played their archrival the St. Louis Blues on Friday afternoon and then the San Jose Sharks on Sunday night.
Friday afternoon’s matchup featured Kevin Lankinen between the pipes, as well as the return of Wyatt Kalynuk. He was probably my favorite new defensemen from last season so definitely keep an eye on him and his development this season although he wasn’t particularly outstanding in his first game back but at least he is healthy. Anyway, this game was featured on ESPN+ and headlined by announcers John Buccigross and Brian Boucher who I thought did a very good job as a tandem even though I was kind of talking shit about the ESPN+ hockey broadcast last week. Buccigross did a good job of sounding enthused and keeping watchers entertained and Boucher is a great analyst of the game drawing on his experience as a former goalie. The overall production seemed to have better quality in my ‘professional’ viewing opinion.
Overall, I thought the play was pretty even. The Blues jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first period, but the rest of the game the Hawks seemed to play solid defense, got steady goaltending from Lank the Tank, and found a way to force overtime. The game finished with Seth Jones' RISKY but EFFECTIVE behind-the-back pass, between two blues defenders, that found the most dangerous duo in the NHL in Patrick Kane and Alex DeBrincat on a 2-on-1. They madeno mistake and I had no one to tell me to “Stop yelling!” as I had the apartment to myself this weekend. However, I do feel bad for Jonathan Toews after he almost cashed in on what appeared to be his first of the season from a horrible giveaway by the Blues (overrated) netminder Jordan
Binnington. This would have made it 2-1 going into the second, but it was overturned because of an offside call. This was a great comeback win and fan favorite Derek King still hasn’t lost two in a row since he joined as interim bench boss.
(Kinger keeps his laser focus as his less talented brother, left, cheers him on)
Moving onto Sunday, it was Hockey Fights Cancer Night at the Madhouse as the Blackhawks honored one of their own, Troy Murray, who is undergoing his own battle with cancer. It was a beautiful ceremony accompanied by a great video showcased on the jumbotron. This is the type of stuff that makes someone proud to be Chicago Blackhawks fan as I would imagine that there weren’t many dry eyes in the building while honoring someone who has brought so much to this city and this organization. I will always remember listening to his radio broadcasts of Hawks games with my dad as a 11-year-old, coming home from my floor hockey games, so thank you for that, Troy Murray, and I hope you get well soon.
Sunday’s tilt was not nearly as entertaining as Friday’s. My analysis: we outplayed the Sharks most of the game but just couldn’t score. I will say the powerplay needs to heat up again, because if they would have cashed in on one of their two chances we probably would have won that game and people wouldn’t be talking about this team’s inability to score.
Obviously, James Reimer blanked us but it didn’t feel like he had to make a lot of high-danger saves nor were there a lot of stints in which the Hawks were applying offensive zone pressure. It was mostly one-and-done which is a problem. I appreciate the fight and grit that King is trying to instill within this team, and I think it is translating on to the ice as it seemed like the Hawks were throwing some bodies around and forcing turnovers against the Sharks. It was especially evident in Friday’s game too. Usually the teams morale would be crushed if they had a goal disallowed but their response in the win was to keep pushing and fighting for each other and that was impressive to watch. Just something to keep an eye on as the season rolls on because it has been a VERY long time since the Blackhawks have had any identity that wasn’t “this team is hard to watch.”
The Blackhawks next game is on Thursday (I don’t know if I can wait that long) against Alex Ovechkin and the league leading Washington Capitals. The game after that is against the team right behind them, the New York Rangers. These next two games should allow fans to see just exactly how Derek King’s Blackhawks measure up to the best teams in the league. These “measuring-stick” games are historically the games I most enjoy watching. Whether its crushing disappointment or ecstatic jubilation, fun is bound to be had by the players and the viewers. So, if your someone who is reading my blog that might not totally be sold on the Chicago Blackhawks yet, be sure to catch some of the action this Thursday and Saturday.