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Friday night in Jersey, Patrick Sharp has a Hat-Trick, the Hawks score five and take the two points. All is well with the world, right? No, not so much as it happens. There was plenty last night that warrants some questioning, and we’ll get to that in the bullets. As it was, Sharp opened the scoring early in the 2nd Period with a mean snap shot after a nice feed from Toews. Greene tied it up for New Jersey a minute later, after a thorough blowing of defensive assignments, and that was it until things went beserk in the 3rd.

 

Brandon Saad allegedly scored to make it 2-1, but, having watched the replay multiple times, I still don’t see where he touches the puck. Kane shoots it in from the right and the only deflection I can see is off Zidlicky’s skate. Anyway, good work on going to the net by Saad and Eddie Olcyzk had to go and have a lie-down.  It was 3-1 shortly thereafter as Sharp got his second from a very acute angle. When you’re hot, you’re hot, I guess.  Marian Hossa made it 4-1 and we all started to relax. So, of course Marek Zidlicky scored twice, once from close range after Bryan Bickell let him skate in unopposed and then with a long-range shot through a screen on the PP. Hope bloomed briefly for the Devils, who had had long stretches of dominance and would indeed go on to outshoot the Hawks 27-24, but that was snuffed out when Sharp, who had been denied on an earlier breakaway, drew the poke-check from Brodeur and calmly rounded him to complete his second hattie in five days. Again, it was the move of someone who is feeling supremely confident right now.

That did it and the Hawks can flee the East Coast with three out of four points in the bag.

On the subject of points:

  • Patrick Sharp is now 2nd in the NHL for Goals Scored with 25 (Ovi leads with 31) and 6th overall in Points. He’s going to Sochi.
  • The Devils did not go quietly and had several lengthy passages of play where they pinned the Hawks in their zone. Antti Raanta was called upon to make some stellar saves, which is all well and good for his confidence, but this was the 24th in the League New Jersey offense; so shouldn’t really have been happening. Sheldon Brookbank was a tire-fire tonight but was, in effect, coming in cold after being out for three games. This triple-platooning of the 6th defenseman has to stop. If they feel that they haven’t had enough opportunity to evaluate Kostka due to his injury then they need to play him three straight games and then make a decision to send one of them back to Rockford. They’ll have to be exposed to Waivers, but so be it.  It’s playing havoc with Nick Leddy’s game, too. Johnny Oduya had one of his less-than-impressive nights and struggled to clear the puck.
  • Michal Handzus gave plenty of fuel to his critics last night.  Watch the build up to the Greene goal. Even if Raanta had stopped the shot, or Greene had centered it, Stephen Gionta would have had all the time in the world to finish with Zus puffing away behind him. Jay Zawaski wrote a great piece, based on observations made by the guys at The Committed Indian, that highlights what a deleterious effect Zus is having on Patrick Kane’s production. I like Zus, I think he’s still a useful player. But he should be on the 4th Line.
  • On the subject of lines, we saw some mixing and matching last night with Brandon Saad coming up to the 2nd and Kris Versteeg dropping to the 3rd. I’m all for this, as I don’t really like Kane and Versteeg together (there’s a tendency for both to get a little too cute) and Saad’s more direct play is a benefit. But, again, that’s not what’s wrong with that line.
  • The 3rd Line were a mess tonight with Versteeg, Bickell and Shaw all clocking less TOI than Brandon Bollig. More on this shortly.
  • The PK continued to improve even though Kruger went into the box (twice). Zidlicky had all day to get his shot off on Kane’s needless Hooking penalty and that’s just not acceptable. The PP was 0-3 and looks increasingly toothless.
  • Jaromir Jagr was playing last night, apparently. I know this only because he took a penalty for Hooking Hjalmarsson.
  • Pat Foley is clearly so proud of himself for his new-found grasp of Advanced Stats. By which, of course, I mean Hits and +/-. Eddie Olcyzk was singing adapted Beach Boys songs. However, switching to the MSG feed, I discovered what sounded like a Belieber gurgling away about how “Amazing” and “Unbelievable” everything the Devils did was.  Ye Gods.

San Jose next.. last time the Sha-arks were in Chicago so was I.. a repeat of the result would be nice.