Comcast Sports Net
The Blackhawks celebrate after beating the Ottawa Senators Friday night.
While the scoreline may have only said 2-1 at the end of 60 minutes, Friday night was a superb performance from the Blackhawks in every facet.
A caveat would be that the Senators played into their hands all night. What I mean by that is Ottawa likes to play a speed game just like the Hawks, which means that they try and carry the puck into the offensive zone as much as they can. That means the Hawks D can stand up at their blue line and make plays there, which is what they do best.
So it was all night, as the Hawks denied entry and profited on the space they found behind the aborted Senators wave.
It's one thing to say that though and another to do it. The Hawks bottled up what had been a confident and potent Ottawa attack all night and then made plays with the turnovers.
But that's not all they did right. They got the two to three big saves they needed from Ray Emery to keep the scoreline where it was. Good teams only ask their goalie to make a handful of big saves, as in hockey you generally can't deny a couple chances here and there. Emery was up to the task.
They even scored on a power play, and another on a delayed penalty. What a country?
They got superior efforts from their stars, as the Senators had no answer for Patrick Kane or Marian Hossa who were simply kicking mules in the behind all night.
They outworked the Senators along the wall, winning most of those battles to clear pucks when they had to. They broke out of their zone from behind their goal when they had to cleanly, for the most part. Aside from one silly Viktor Stalberg penalty, they were disciplined. They got some luck too with a post molested by a Jason Spezza shot and Zenon Konopka deciding to hand a puck back to Emery with an open net on offer. Maybe he should have tried to fight the puck instead, it's what he does best.
Sure, they were profligate in front of the net, with Andrew Brunette apparently having stepped on a cross on the way to the arena. But you only complain when they don't get the chances.
And moreover, with a lead to protect the Hawks were excellent at both blue lines.
It's the kind of effort the Hawks have only been able to show in teenage spurts, instead of the mature man consistency that all women love. They'll have to reproduce it again and again this month, but it starts with one.