It wasn’t all bad Tuesday night against the San Jose Sharks. In fact, the players were harder on themselves than I was.
Defensively, there were mistakes, but offensively, I thought the shot selection wasn’t too bad. Let’s face it, when you have the edge, 47-14, something good was going on. But that defense….
Tuesday may have been Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith’s worst game, at least in a while, and as a tandem. It’s not just that they were on the ice for all three goals against; they didn’t seem to be in sync. Both admitted after the game that San Jose had something to do with that, but there seem to be some miscommunication between two guys who usually play like they’re twins. Keith, in particular, looked indecisive on the Sharks' first goal and on several other chances that were near misses. Hey, even the best have off nights.
Kris Versteeg gets less benefit of the doubt. His turnover -- a cross neutral ice pass picked off -- was brutal and may have been the game-changer. That play has to go forward or back but Versteeg has a tendency to play side to side and it cost him. He was on the ice for only 10:52, down from 15:08 the game before. That’s one guy who has to pick it up. When asked if Versteeg should not attempt a pass like that, all Joel Quenneville would say is, “Not if he completes it.” Translation: make sure you can and do or don’t attempt.
The HTK (Hossa, Toews, Kane) line, or whatever you like to call it, was reunited in the third period and produced the Hawks' first goal. At 2-1, it looked to get the Hawks back in it. Moments later, they were sent back out there after an icing call as Quenneville smelled a momentum change. In seconds, an odd man rush the other way resulted in the back-breaker, as Jason Demers buried one from Joe Thorton. There went the momentum.
Let’s give some credit to Evgeni Nabokov. He made some tough saves early in the game, especially when the Hawks power play was getting some chances. Later, it looked like there was some frustration with the man advantage but that game certainly could have been different if Nabakov wasn’t sharp.
The plus-33 shot differential was the largest of the season and largest since the opening victory in Helsinki when the Hawks outshot Florida 55-24.
Keith played a season high 32:31. He’s third in the NHL in ice time.