Toast: Maple Leafs (3) Blackhawks (2)
Peter Holland scored 2 minutes into the third period to put the Leafs ahead for good 3-2 on Saturday night. It was Holland’s first goal on the season and it helped to set up the real story of the night’s contest: James Reimer was sensational. Optimus Reim stopped 45 of 47 shots, including 26 (!!!) in the third period. The telling statistics to gauge the Hawks’ effectiveness in this game, though, are going 2-4 on the power play (good) and not scoring on 36 even strength shots (bad).
This game was the same story of domination without anything to show for it on the scoreboard. It’s incredibly frustrating to be on the short end of a goalie win, it’s even more frustrating when it happens seemingly every loss. The Committed Indian posted a pretty relevant tweet last night talking about the sustainability of the opposition’s SV%. And, while true, the Hawks are unfortunately not playing the same opponent every night. It’s not just one goaltender that has Chicago’s number. We’re looking at 4 or 5 in this short season so far. Yes, we should still expect the floodgates to open, but we’re 11 games in, it needs to happen soon.
Let’s break it down…
- Before anything else, kudos to the Leo Komarov line last night. They were good all game long.
- The power play was good. I don’t know what to say either. There was movement from the far side winger causing enough traffic through the middle of the ice that forced Toronto to back off of the point while the puck is at the half wall and it allowed the dangermen to get the puck back to the point for shots. More please.
- Brad Richards scored one of those goals. Welcome to the season, Brad.
- Trevor van Riemsdyk was very good again. He made smart plays in his own end and contributed offensively with 3 shots. He also played 19 minutes. If the Hawks can get him to play at that level consistently, it’ll do wonders in keeping Hjalmarsson, Keith, and Seabrook rested.
- Speaking of Hjalmarsson, he has to be close to the toughest guy in the league. Constantly blocking shots in weird spots, getting split open, etc. I don’t know how he hasn’t had an extended IR stint, but I’m glad he’s ours.
- With that said, the Hjalmarsson-Oduya pairing was pretty bad last night. Oduya’s pizza delivery to James van Riemsdyk on the Leafs’ second goal was identical to many of my beer league turnovers. Head down and fire it up the middle. Then on the game winner he got demolished cleanly by Komarov. Woof.
- Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp, Brandon Saad are three guys that need to get it going offensively. They have goalless droughts of 6, 4, and 5 games respectively. That’s got to change. I know the excuse to get Kane a center at even strength is valid, but the other two guys need to get it going too. And I’m not 100% on board with that being the only reason Kane isn’t scoring. He’s had plenty of PP time to make something happen and hasn’t done it. It’s time, fellas.
- And finally, on the subject of Patrick Kane’s center. Andrew Shaw is a disgrace. 5-14 in in the faceoff circle and he won only 1 draw of 8 in the offensive zone. That was against a rookie playing in his first NHL game. Not only that, but Kadri’s goal can be directly tied to Shaw. He had Kadri covered over the blue line, and then inexplicably leaves him to skate to the middle of the ice. He’s miserable as a center, and expecting him to just all of a sudden turn it on because he’s playing with Kane is insane. I know this is a broken record, but it seems like he negatively affects every game. Let Richards play there.
God help us if the Blackhawks don’t beat the hell out of Winnipeg on Sunday.
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