I attended the Sabres and Blackhawks game last night and figured I'd post my thoughts about how both teams, especially the Blackhawks, matchup against the Blues and comparing styles of play.
1. Sabres have to be one of the softest teams in the NHL. After watching them in person, I no longer think Ryan Miller is such a jerk for trashing his teammates, at least a portion of them deserve to be trashed. Aside from the fact that they barely hit anyone all night, a Hawks player attempted to start a scrap with a Sabre for one of the few hits during the game (I forget names already), and as opposed to stand up for himself and his team, the Sabre goes straight down. At the time, I thought it was kinda smart, the game was still in the balance and he created a power play. In hindsight, he was just soft. The Sabres did nothing with the PP and really I just got the impression that no one was willing to fight for this team.
2. Save Jason Pominville! That guy is good, his teammates are bad.
Enough about the Sabres...
3. The Hawks are not soft but they aren't that physical either. Watching them play someone other than StL was striking in that I saw so few hits, so little physicality. I don't think they're soft but they definitely play a completely different style than the Blues.
4. Passing. Such great chemistry on the Hawks led by Toews and Kane on line 1, and Hossa being relentlessly tough on line 2. Their passes are crisp and almost always on target, a joy to watch. (Blues have improved on this a lot this year, compared to last season IMO).
5. Line 3. Their two prettiest goals of the night, a cross-ice one timer and a between the legs drop-pass to a shot, were scored by their third line. With the Blues 3rd line, I hope for shots on net and a deflection/rebound, or something fluky. The Hawks third line? They generate offense.
6. Patrick Kane & Jaden Schwarz. They remind me of each other in ways, except Schwarz isn't such a ****** (and I say that being a fan of Kane's). While Kane's size hinders him to a degree, his skills still create so many chances and allow that Hawks first line to enter the zone and get shpts with such ease. I think Schwarz, even if similarly affected by his size, can be this style of player for us, especially with the types of players he could be playing with (a Backes or Oshie who would mitigate his initial lack in stature).
7. Toews will win a Selke, eventually.
8. Maybe this goes with #3, but I was not impressed with their defense. Sabres had a lot of scoring chances and good shots on goal. Hawks defense can be beat.
Overall, Hawks looked very good, but beatable. I suspect they can play physical but I could see the Blues wearing their ***** out in a playoff series. However, after that Dallas game, I envy the way they finish scoring chances and don't have half their shots go 2 feet wide of the net.
Either way, Oilers could be tough tonight, so, LET'S GO BLUES!