If I had to make a guess, the Neanderthal Gene (a.k.a “Revenge for Raffi”) in all of us might be a little disappointed tonight. I’m not sure if I hope I’m right or wrong.
Joel Quenneville kept his head the other night in San Jose when it seemed like we were witnessing a Corey Crawford flashback. The first, second and third Sharks goals over the first eleven minutes of the matchup got progressively worse for the Hawks netminder, but Quenneville kept the hook by his side. We wouldn’t have seen a year ago.
Crawford built enough trust and equity in his performance so far this season to remain in the net in difficult situations. If he was yanked at that point – coming off the Ray Emery performance Saturday night against Calgary – the risk was turning Crawford back towards a mentally bad place.
But Quenneville’s decision to roll the dice and see how Crawford reacted probably did wonders for his goaltender’s confidence, even though he had to answer that trust by stopping just about every other puck that came his way Tuesday night. Crawford did just that and it wound up keeping the Hawks’ winning ways in place.
The company line coming out of the locker room on tonight’s matchup has been to continue playing their game – that the Blackhawks won’t be going out of their way to watch for Torres every time he’s on the ice and jump out of their skates at him. The Hawks are prepared to play their game and focus on winning first and foremost.
I’m thinking they probably will unless Torres somehow manages to lower the boom on another Hawk. Sure, if he’s there and you can line him up and rock his world, go for it. But things have been going so well for the Hawks, why force yourself out of your own game if it might end up costing yourselves a point or two?
You’ll know something’s up if both Brandon Bollig and Jamal Mayers are in the lineup. If that’s the case, expect the Hawks to go after Torres and get it over with quickly. According to Blackhawks Insider Tracey Myers, Mayers looks like he’s in tonight based on a quick exit from morning skate.
But putting both in the lineup would likely mean they’d sacrifice either Marcus Kruger or Michael Frolik on that fourth line, and we all know the job they’ve been doing on the penalty kill. I don’t believe Quenneville would mess with anyone on his third line either for the sake of getting both Mayers and Bollig in. The Hawks’ coach doesn’t like to change things up when they’re going well, and this is a numbers game in terms of the slots on lines and the points the team has been piling up. If you send Sheldon Brookbank after Torres, you lose your sixth defenseman for at least five minutes.
It would be nice if all these things aligned perfectly, a message could be sent, and two more points are added to the impressive stack thus far. In the bigger picture, I just don’t see it happening.
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