By Connor McKnight–
The Blackhawks pushed their winning streak to three with a 4-1 decision over the Predators Wednesday night. Jack Skille led the offensive effort with a pair of goals and the team seemed to both accept and embrace playing a tight defensive style that smothered the Predators attack.
For each of these things, the appropriate response is, “About time.”
It’s definitely about time Jack Skille netted a goal or two. With the pace he’d been shooting (over eight shots per minute of ice time played which would lead the NHL if only they kept such an official stat) and not scoring (he held a 4.3 shooting percentage, decidedly lower than just about any forward in the league) it’s about time a puck or two squeaked past the goaltender.
Wednesday night, Skille’s determination paid off in all the right ways. He scored his first goal by elevating one short side on a great pass from Dave Bolland during a Blackhawk power play. For his second he just threw one at the net, seemingly with his eyes closed. It turned out just fine because, as Skille said after the game, that puck had eyes of its own. They say luck is where hard work meets opportunity and Skille has certainly had plenty of both so far this season. It’s about time luck showed up on his side.
It’s also about time they Hawks found a comfortable style of play. It’s clear, almost painfully so, that without Marian Hossa and Patrick Kane in the lineup that this team is unable to play the same time of fast-paced hockey they played last season. What the Hawks have learned, however, is that it doesn’t mean they can’t still hold the puck as long as they can.
Home run passes and break aways are one thing. Drawing out possessions and generating chances simply by having the puck longer than the other guy is something totally different. The latter almost assures a win.
So, heading into the Christmas break, the Hawks have won three straight; two have come against division opponents, the other against the Kings–a Western Conference team. It’s a needed roll, no doubt. The welcome challenge to both coach Quenneville and the rest of the team will be melding Kane and Hossa into this Hawk system.
For the record, it should work just fine.