WHOA BABY, THAT'S A START.
I refuse to get overhyped about a preseason, post-covid, pre-playoff, exhibition game. I am just going to tell you what I saw here tonight.
1) Dach is a MAN now
He looks different. He looks strong on loose pucks. He looks confident. He looks calm. He plays the game the right way. He had a couple of assists tonight. Dach was making plays. He looks like a guy who could make a difference in the playoffs when the Hawks weren't necessarily counting on him. We know about the skill and the smarts, but there were little things that got me excited. The entry on the PP where he battled through stick checks, maintained possession and found Kubalik got me hard. He reminds me a little of Ryan O'Reilly. Strong, smart, works hard, can score. He looks like he has 1C potential right now. One weird game but he looks different.
2) The Power Play
It's amazing what happens when you put your best players in a position to win. Why Kubalik wasn't on the top PP with Kane and Toews the entire season I will never know. Having Dach on the goal line and using his reach to create passing lanes and angles will be nice too. That's a unit and they potted two. Great to see it. The Hawks will need to convert against Edmonton
3) Saad-Toews-Kubalik is a problem
Those are three big bodies who are dogs on pucks. They battle. The Saad goal was a thing of beauty.
The Hawks don't have a lot of lines who can win and create off the cycle. Having these three being able to do that against an Edmonton team that can struggle 5 on 5 can hide some defensive issues. Any time you can play in the other team's end for 30 seconds it's a win even if it doesn't end up with a goal.
4) I really really don't like Nylander on a line with Kane
Kane's line didn't do a ton. They got the goal where Kane threw it off of Strome's stick in front for deflection goal. Good on Strome for being strong in front and winning against Petro. Overall though, relying on Kane to just do something magical in rare moments isn't my favorite strategy. For a huge part of his career with the centers and wings he's played with that has been the reality. I miss the days when Patrick Sharp or Panarin were on a line with him. Guys who worked as hard as him. Battled as hard as him. And capitalized on the opportunities that come from playing Kane. That just isn't there at the moment with Nylander. I don't know what you do to fix it. The Hawks don't have many options there especially because you don't want to break up 20-19-8
91-77-88. Give Kane a guy like Caggiula who will go and get the puck and battle and put Dach there as his center. Dach can hang on to pucks, especially now since he got some man strength, and Kane can work off of the time and space he creates. Then your 3rd line is Debrincat-Strome-RW. I would prefer another winger will be dedicated to puck retrieval and pressure. I don't know who that is. Who will work their bag off for ice time? Hagel? Carpenter?
5) Corey Crawford got a shut out in half of a game
Load management tonight with Subban relieving him. Crawford didn't get a ton of work, but he looked sharp enough against limited chances. Looked good enough to make you hopeful.
They're out to lunch. This game was always going to be more important to the Blackhawks. They need to start fast. They play for real on saturday. No time to settle in. The Blues have the dumb round robin thing. They can ease their way into game shape. Allen was a sieve. The D were sluggish. Really only the Sanford-ROR-Perron line looked dangerous. Edmonton will be a different animal.
Just like that... I can't wait for Saturday. Give me Edmonton.