Hawks-Capitals Recap; Hawks Preseason Gameday @ Red Wings

 

Friday night's Hawks' victory over the Washington Capitals provided a thrilling show for nearly 20,000 Chicagoans at the UC. Hawks received goals from Viktor Stalberg (2) and the gamewinner from youngster Brandon Saad (plus 1 assist). Jonathan Toews finished the game with two assists.

I had the privilege of viewing the Hawks' game from Row 4 behind Corey Crawford for two periods of play. It was thrilling action, but obviously made it a little challenging trying to keep up with the gameplay at the opposite end of the ice in order to analyze some of the Chicago young guns.

Capitals opened the scoring midway through the first period with Joel Ward's tipped shot from above the circle by Alex Ovechkin. The game took a break from offensive scoring in the second period, however, the third period saw two Hawks goals from Stalberg, the gametying goal from Matt Hendricks on a steal off of Steve Montedor in front of Crawford, and then the final game winning goal from Brandon Saad.

Overall, the Hawks played a pretty good game considering there were quite a few AHL/junior players in the lineup. The defense as a whole contained the Caps attack fairly well and I thought Chicago's movement up the ice was a little more crisp in addition to some impressive breakout passes from players like Dylan Olsen.

Game Notes:

* Possibly one of the top steals of this year's draft, Brandon Saad continues to impress. It's obvious that his confidence continues to grow with every game and the 18-year-old left winger is making a very strong case towards a roster spot. Ultimately, I don't think he will get one this year, but he is showing the Hawks brass that he is a great fit for the team in the next year or two. Don't be surprised if he gets signed to an ELC in the near future. Saad will play in his 4th straight preseason game tonight in Detroit.

* Dylan Olsen had what I would consider a monster game. He was physical along the boards while dishing out a few big hits and made some stellar breakout passes to start the O-rush for Chicago. He seems very calm and composed in his own end and doesn't seem hesitant when it comes to matching up against opposing teams' veteran offense. One more year in Rockford might be all he needs. Olsen will also play tonight vs Detroit.

* Stalberg already has a roster spot on this Hawks' roster, but it would be unfair not to mention his stellar performance. With 2 goals on Tomas Vokoun, it's obvious he is also getting into a nice rhythm before the start of the regular season, and that's exactly what you want with a player like Stalberg. 

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Hawks matchup against Red Wings at The Joe with a slightly different roster makeup than on Friday night. There will be far more defensive prospects in the lineup tonight than in last game, with Steve Montedor and Nick Leddy leading the way, meaning Emery and Salak will most likely be tested a lot more. Also, be sure to look for some decent bouts with both Carcillo and Mayers in the lineup. 

Other things to watch for - 

* Brandon Saad plays in his 4th straight preseason game. This is a great opportunity to see how Saad can matchup against Detroit D-men, depending on who the Red Wings start. Seeing as how Detroit is at home, I wouldn't be surprised if Lidstrom, Kronwall, etc appear in tonight's game.

* Rostislav Olesz needs to pick up his game a little more to solidify his spot on the Hawks roster. He hasn't played poorly, he just hasn't really stood out too much, though a player of his role doesn't need to stand out too much. In the end, I assume he will find a spot on the 3rd line with Bolland and most likely Bickell, possibly Frolik. If Olesz can stay healthy, he could hold on to that 3rd line spot if he can increase his production, which would be great considering his $3 mill cap hit. 

* Emery and Salak have played pretty evenly at this point in the preseason and Hawks' brass will have to make a decision soon on Crawford's backup. I expect Emery to ultimately get the final call in the end as he has played just as well and has been tested more than Salak has. But tonight will give us a better indication of that.

* Look for Montedor to have a nice game tonight after his unfortunate giveaway that led to Hendrick's goal for the Caps on Fri. Montedor will join Leddy as one of the two regular Hawks' D-men and it's safe to say Montedor will play a large role in helping to lead the Hawks' attack.

Hawk, Hawk, Hawk it up!

Follow me on Twitter - @MCBHawks

-Matt Cefalu