It takes one word to describe the Hawks 7-1 dismantling of the Calgary Flames: Poise.
The Hawks had it and the Flames did not.
That poise led to four power play goals and the Hawks’ highest scoring output of the season. It all started in a 1-1 game with a big hit by Niklas Hjalmarsson on Rene Bourque early in the second period. It was lethal and legal, but as we see so many times in the NHL, retaliation comes immediately. Nigel Dawes jumped Hjalmarsson and went off for two. A minute and nine seconds later Kris Versteeg scored what would be the winning goal and the blowout had begun.
Later in that same period, that lack of poise bit the Flames again. This time, during a Hawks power play, Dion Phaneuf took exception to another clean hit by Brent Seabrook and after the two dropped the gloves, Phaneuf ended up with an extra two minutes. The Hawks cashed in on the five-on-three and then the ensuing five on four. Game over.
Ironically, before the trip began, coach Joel Quenneville discussed the idea of retaliation on Vancouver’s Willie Mitchell when the Hawks play there on Sunday. Mitchell nailed Jonathan Toews with a hit last month that caused him to miss six games -- but it was a legal check. Quenneville said it’s been a trend in the NHL for some time. Illegal retaliation for clean hits. Quenneville doesn’t like it and I’m betting Flames coach Brent Sutter isn’t much of a fan for it either after Thursday.
It’s one thing to get the power play chances, it’s another to cash in. The Hawks looked as good with the man advantage as in any game this season and Quenneville agreed.
“We were due to have a night like tonight [on the power play],” Quenneville declared on Comcast Sportsnet after the game. “I liked the results.”
That’s an understatement.
There were many offensive stars in this one. Duncan Keith had three helpers to increase his team leading total to 13. Ben Eager scored his first of the year and Patrick Kane, on his 21st birthday, had his team leading eighth along with an assist. Kane has a point for every year he’s been alive and is averaging just over one per game. The final stat is telling about the Hawks team effort in this one.
They blocked 18 shots by nine different players. It’s not often a forward leads the team in a game in that category but John Madden blocked five of those on his own. Cristobal Huet played well again, and may have made the save of the year while the game was still in doubt. He leaped to his right to block a Jay Bouwmeester shot that was ticketed for the back of the net. The Hawks skaters took over from there. In the last five and a half periods of play, in two games against Calgary, the Hawks have outscored them 13-1.
The circus doesn’t seem so bad right about now.