By Michael Calvert
Friday night in Phoenix was the last game for the Hawks before the 3 week shutdown for the Sochi Olympics.
Patrick Kane was not available to play against the Coyotes. Kane was on personal leave from the team in order to attend the funeral for his paternal grandfather back in Buffalo. So, Brandon Saad moved up to the second line. Missing Kane will never be good for the Hawks, but I doubt they will always struggle this bad offensively when down only one superstar.
The Hawks came out with the top line of Hossa, Toews and Sharp. Second line for the Hawks included the aforementioned Saad along with Versteeg and recently acquired Peter Regin. Third line was Bickell and Shaw centered by old man Zus and the fourth line for the Hawks was Bollig Kruger and Smith.
With Oduya out on the blue line the Hawks brought in two of their rotating 6th defensemen. Rozsival played on the second line with Hjalmarsson and Brookbank on the third pair with Leddy.
1st period: The first started out poorly for the Hawks, Bollig takes a pretty unnecessary tripping penalty against Mr. Coyote, Shane Doan, seven seconds later Keith Yandle blasts a one timer past Crawford.
I could wrap this up right here, but there was another 58 minutes of mind numbing hockey left.
Just a minute later the second pairing of the “why are they on the Hawks” brothers takes a penalty for an illegal stick. I don’t really know this penalty but apparently Bickell could not play with Leddy’s stick because it appeared to the ref to be broken? Maybe it is a safety issue, but really running around with a broken stick really only hurts the Hawks.
The Hawks manage to kill this penalty off with no real struggle, but at this point the Yotes are all over the Hawks and are outshooting them 7-1. The Hawks look pretty listless, I guess the buzz word would be they didn’t “bring a high compete level.”
The Blackhaws narrow the shot gap to 10-7 by periods end but we still go into the second down 1.
2nd period: The second showcased more knuckle head Hawks penalties. Near the end of the second Saad got called for interference by “charging” Mike Smith, we all know penalties on Smith can be a touchy subject amongst the Hawk faithful. Just to really seal the deal, long time vet Rozsival gets a two minute-er for arguing. So the Hawks are on a 5-3 penalty for the full 2 minutes. All the Coyotes needed was 1 of those 2 minutes as Vrbata beats Crawford 42 seconds into the 2 man advantage.
3rd period: Hawks try and fail to come back, and Toews and Michalek get into a high sticking competition. Its one thing to bum slay but I’d rather not see our stars stick fighting with bums.
All in all it was a great trip and I think a lot of us were apprehensive about it, considering the dangers that lurked in CA. The Hawks looked like champs against the elite out of Southern Cali, and still can put up a dud like they did with the two worst teams of this trip.
Crawford was decent. It’s tough to face that many penalties not to mention multiple 5-3’s, just an all around sloppy/weak performance from his teammates.
Good luck to the 10 Hawks headed to mother Russia, hopefully Sochi’s not nearly as bad as everyone seems to be making it out. Then again it’s Russia in February, how good could it be?
Regin looked ok, I didn’t notice him much, I guess he had an A+ chance early in the first per Foley. I can’t imagine a fourth rounder being more useful which is what the Hawks gave up. Somehow Stan managed to get another team to foot the bill for a contributor to his team, so could this trade possibly be bad, or just eh at worst?