With the snow coming down, Soldier Field had the environment and all the makings for a classic matchup between the Bears and the Packers. Once the cameras brushed away the snow from the lenses, a beautiful hockey game was revealed.
All one needed to do was look at the mile wide smile on Coach Q’s face to see that the outdoor game is a special event. I was a bit concerned heading into this season that the outdoor hockey game would become watered down due to the NHL having six games on its schedule. After Saturday night’s matchup, those fears were quelled.
The game itself was lopsided. From all ends of the ice the Hawks dominated the play and if it weren’t for Brent Seabrook’s mental mishap, the Hawks would be heading into their Tuesday night matchup against Colorado on the coattails of a shutout victory against the Penguins. This matchup was one I was looking forward to for a while to see how the HAwks would fare against the highly touted Penguins and Sidney Crosby.
It’s a shame these two teams don’t get to meet up more often as this was the first time Crosby and Toews have squared off against one another in the regular season. The perspective I took away from the game is as follows.
1. The Hawks Rise To The Occasion
For all the hoopla that the Hawks were experiencing a Stanley Cup hangover, it’s undeniable that they have risen to the occasion against top tier teams and escalated their play.
2. Toews Is The Best In The Game
For a guy heralded for his strong defensive play, all one needs to do is look at his undressing of Brooks Orpik to see why Toews’ offensive side is just as deadly. Outside of his three points, his line neutralized Crosby and Malkin the entire game even without Marian Hossa.
3. Shoe On The Other Foot
Most teams view matchups against the Hawks as somewhat of a measuring stick. Being spoiled by the Hawks recent success, the newness of a competitive matchup is exciting because it allows us to use other teams (in this case the Penguins) as a measuring stick for the Hawks.
All in all, the game was a success on all ends for the Hawks and the NHL. I would not be surprised to see another outdoor game in the near future for Chicago.
News & Notes
As David reported earlier, the Hawks shipped off center Brandon Pirri to Florida for two draft picks. My take on it? If Brandon Pirri’s supposed absence from this lineup prevents them from playoff success, this team already had serious problems. Pirri is a nice offensive player, but simply was overmatched in his NHL assignment.
Forward Marian Hossa is also expected to miss some time with an upper-body injury. Hossa left last night’s game after the first period, with Coach Quenneville saying the forward could be out “a bit”.
The Hawks will square off against Colorado this Tuesday night, marking their return to the United Center for the first time since January. Analysis and game report to follow as well as last minute trade deadline rumors.