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Well then.. After an uncertain 1st Round against the Preds, the Hawks appear to be rounding into Championship form this series. They’ve won both handily, the stars are shining, the supporting cast is doing its job, their goalie is solid (yes, really) and the lines and lineup are about as optimal as they can be. The Wild have not had a lead for a single second thus far and are heading back home without the smash & grab win you feel they really needed. Of course, it’s only been two games and this time last year the Hawks headed to St Paul with a similar advantage and promptly got their asses handed to them so we’ll not be getting the Corey Perry photoshops out just yet. But there’s reasons to be cheerful this morning and we’ll get to them directly.

  • Ryan $uter will want to forget this one. He  was badly at fault for the first Hawks goal and lost track of Patrick Kane for the second. In Game 1 it was Spurgeon and Scandella who got kicked in, this time out it was the turn of $uter and Brodin.  The Wild cannot afford to have a malfunctioning top-four pairing, such is the firepower ranged against them. $uter is better than this and chances are we’ll see a bounceback in St. Paul. If not, this could be a short series.
  • That first goal was vintage Hossa. $uter decided, despite knowing that Hossa was there and what he’s capable of doing, to piddle about trying to make a play in the Neutral Zone. Hossa picked his pocket, as is his wont, and streaked away (still got them wheels, Marian) to set Toews up for the shortie. It took a lucky bounce into the net (and $uter, credit where it’s due, nearly got back to clear the puck) but those are the breaks at this time of year.
  • With a minute to go in the 2nd period Duncan Keith, playing with house money due to a delayed offside, sprang Kane who scored a bloody glorious wrister. That evil wee bugger is on fire and it’s a joy to watch: he’s picked up where he left off in the Regular Season and is now tied for 2nd in Postseason points and goals.
  • Worth noting: four of the top ten points scorers are Blackhawks (no-one else has more than two players in that list). Kane (10), Keith (10), Toews (9) and Sharp (8). Hossa is knocking on the door with 7, too. Look at those names: the Hawks superstars are all contributing and the rest of the league should feel very, very afraid.
  • If there’s a book out on Dubnyk, it appears to be “Shoot On Sight”. The Hawks were peppering him and both Kane and Sharp’s goals were examples of rapid trigger-pulls rather than trying to improve angles on the goalie by taking that extra touch. Dubnyk wasn’t bad at all, but he got hung out to dry twice by his D. if the Wild are going to require him to be superhuman every night, they’re dead meat.
  • Hello, Trap. Missed you loads. If that was Mike Yeo’s plan (and his postgame comments suggest that execution rather than tactics was the problem) then it backfired badly. The Preds got results from pressuring the Hawks Forwards (as did the Kings last year). The Wild aren’t really equipped to do that, but sitting back and inviting a group of players with this sort of talent and in this sort of form to come at you.. well, that way lies doooom. Yeo is a smart man and I’d expect a change of thinking ahead of Game 3.
  • I said this on Twitter last night, but it bears repeating: if anyone still has any doubts about Teuvo Teravainen’s ability to compete at this level, they need to flush themselves down the nearest toilet. He was everywhere last night, combative and engaged and my lord, what a great pass off the boards to spring Sharp for his goal. Point in both games since he returned to the lineup. Enjoy the pizza, Kris. Hell, crack open a cold one or ten while you’re at it.
  • My initial reaction was to blame Crawford for Dumba’s goal, but on review I think he was deceived by the velocity. Dumba has a railgun of a shot and he gets it away with virtually no backlift to telegraph what’s coming. Other than that he was rock solid and made some great stops on Brodziak and Pari$e. However, that shot from Scandella that broke his shinky new mask should have led to a spell in the quiet room and HIPESTORMAN getting a look in net. He was clearly knocked doolally by the impact and it’s to be hoped he hasn’t woken up dizzy this morning.
  • Boy, that was a shocking interference call on Vanek and he certainly didn’t deserve the game misconduct I assume he got because I don’t recall noticing him thereafter. It got “evened up” (blargh) by a non-call on Koivu for a faceoff violation that nearly gave Pierre an aneurysm for some reason.
  • Roszie has been in the box for three goals against. A coincidence, sure, but quit it, yeah? He wasn’t terrible otherwise and that’s good because Timonen is struggling badly and was stapled to the bench, not cracking 7 minutes.
  • Hey remember when Antoine Vermette was a winger/healthy scratch? Fun times. 67% on the dot and visibly dominant all night. He’s allowing sharp and Teuvo to be all they can be and that’s why the Hawks gave up a 1st rounder for his services.
  • How many empty net goals are highlight-reel worthy? Patrick Kane, folks. Three Wild players in his way and he still manages to bury it. Did I mention that I love him?

OK, last night was good, very very good. The Wild never looked like getting back into it and the Hawks are 2-0 up heading to the Twin Cities. The Xcel is going to be a genuine madhouse on Tuesday night and the Hawks should get ready for the Wild to counterpunch. All that said, split the series and we’re looking at a potential handshake line next time out in the UC. Go get it.