Blackhawks Confidential

Blackhawks suffer a serious groin problem for a second straight setback

I told you he had Dostoevsky eyes. But for his crime, Washington's Alex Ovechkin paid his punishment. His first-period game misconduct, however, was no match for the Blackhawks' game misconduct.

I told you yesterday the Hawks had a mental bruise from which they might struggle for a while to recover. I was premature. Their piss-poor attitude at crunch time is now on injured reserve and upgraded to possibly a season-ending blow to their ego.

Make that a serious groin pull, not a mental bruise. This was a weekend when the Blackhawks were kicked in the balls and showed they couldn't get it up when required. Time to see if they have the gonads to recover or if everyone needs to start medicating on Viagra.

If I were them, I'd give back the one point earned. They don't deserve it.

For two straight days, the Hawks were third-period disasters. Difference was, they brought a 3-0 lead against Washington into Sunday's debacle.

Here's the similarity, just as the Flyers scored three in the third Saturday in Philadelphia to win 3-2 with 2 seconds left in regulation, the Capitals scored three in the third Sunday at the United Center to tie 3-3 and win 4-3 in overtime on Nicklas Backstrom's goal.

Defenseman Brent Seabrook overcommitted to his right as Backstrom moved in the opposite direction and headed toward the goal. He beat Antti Niemi between the legs, a different attack than Backstrom made to pull the Caps within 3-2 by beating Dave Bolland's defense to punch the puck by Niemi for the all-important momentum changer in the third period.

Here's also the similarity between the Flyers and the Capitals. When the Hawks thought the games were won, they didn't finish. How do you think that's going to work in the postseason?

Antti Niemi and Cristobal Huet were not to blame in my opinion for either setback. They did their best, sometimes being superlative. But the team didn't. The Hawks as a group failed miserably to protect a lead on two consecutive days.

Ovechkin's game misconduct and 5-minute boarding in the first period for shoving defenseman Brian Campbell into the end boards, forcing Campbell from the game with the injury, appeared for two periods to be the turning point.

The NBC crew questioned Washington's manhood without Ovechkin, claiming the Caps must reexamine their whole strategy if they could come apart without Ovechkin and not be a threat for two straight periods.

Of course, Caps coach Bruce Boudreau should be arrested for false testimony by claiming in between periods that Ovechkin had merely shoved Campbell from the side and given him "a one-arm push...with no malicious intent." Yeah, I guess that's why it was Ovechkin's third game miscondict this season, and by watching the replay, you can see Boudreau was a blatant liar every step of that NBC interview without being called on it.

So where did it all go wrong after two first-period goals from Jonathan Toews and a redirected goal in the second period from John Madden after a pretty save at the blue line from Duncan Keith, who then fed Madden in the slot, all went down the drain?

Well, the Hawks stopped pressing to score and carry the action in the third, just as some of them stopped on the backcheck Saturday in Philadelphia and watched as the Flyers turned a 4-on-2 rush into a last-second score.

On Sunday, the Hawks cut that to a 3-on-2 rush at the end. But it was all Backstrom as he flashed his fancy form to finish off a Hawks' club that was hoping Troy Brouwer could pull the trigger at the opposite end before the play moved with striking swiftness the other way to kill off the Hawks suddenly the same way they went down Saturday.

Patrick Kane was largely a no-show for the weekend. If that happens in the playoffs, Chicago could go out in the first round.

Marian Hossa and Kim Johnsson were both scratches Sunday after playing Saturday. They were said to have upper-body injuries.

There was a lot to like about the Hawks' games Saturday and Sunday. There was a lot not to like.

But I would hope we could agree it's not about the goalies. It's about the team. It's about the killer instinct. It's about playing the clock and the situation. It's about desire.

Eric Fehr was only able to tie the score at 3 in the third period because David Steckel wiped out an icing call by beating the Hawks to the puck and getting the play out front to Fehr.

When you lose by being out-hustled in one period alone, it shows how tenuous a line these Hawks are walking.

They are a couple serious injuries away from bad trouble. And we'll see how those injuries to Hossa, Campbell and Johnsson play out and influence the stretch run to the playoffs.

The Hawks now swing west for a three-game trip that starts Wednesday in Anaheim, where the Ducks are hurting worse than the Hawks right now, and they have to rediscover on the road what they lost this weekend.

I'm sure Kane will be instructed to hold his Facebook romances with the lovelies in good old California and Arizona to a minimum.

Hopefully, plastic surgery has progressed to where a balls replacement surgery isn't all that expensive. Send them get-well wishes to start their journey, or we'll be balls out to finish the regular season with the same positive attitude we have had all season that this is our year.

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23 Comments

borg said:

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There's all kinds of ways to look at these losses. Frustrating has to be the first adjective. That said, other teams need incredible breaks to best the Hawks. Second game in well under 24 hours (thanks NHL) after a bitter defeat; no Hossa, no Johnsson, no Campbell for most the game; a lucky bounce off the boards for one Caps goal and a fortuitous bounce right to Backstrom for another. Did I mention the 4-minute PP and subsequent minor assessed to two players only filling in for injured ones?

If there's any good news, it's that Niemi made numerous spectacular saves, something Huet didn't have to do yesterday.

On a personal note, fuck NHL officiating. They'll give Washington a second PP already on a 4-minute chance, but they they deliberately ignored a high-stick to Byfuglien's face against the Kings because the Hawks were on a 5-no-3. Piss on the officials.

And someone needs to knock the reckless Ovechkin into another sphere before he seriously hurts a player, if he already hasn't with Campbell.

END RANT

Mike Kiley said:

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No end rant. There's a lot more to cover.

VegasHawksFan said:

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Is there really a lot more to cover? You said it best already Mike, it's not about the goalies, it's about the team and about killer instinct. In both losses, there really are some silver linings. The bottom line though is that they lost. Everything is so fragile with them. Goalie psyches, 3-5 goal leads, forwards who seem to be afraid of being traded, etc. Worst, perhaps, is that when something starts to fail, they can't stop the bleeding and regroup. They have had some bad breaks, but at this point in the season and in the playoffs, there just aren't any excuses; you win or go home. I still completely believe they can turn it around and win whatever they want. For some reason though, it seems like they will have to outwork every team by a factor of at least two. It sucks that they get burned by just about any mistake they make, but that's where it stands. If they can't deal with what they have, it won't matter.

Mike Kiley said:

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I guess the best we can reply is that it is never as bad as it seems. I hate this message, don't you?

borg said:

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Not as bad as it seems?

Campbell has a broken collarbone and is likely done for the year.

The Caps game itself means nothing. That injury means the Cup is likely out of reach.

borg said:

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Campbell also has "possible rib damage".

What a shame, for both Campbell and the Hawks. All becacause Ovechkin had to go out of his way to throw a player at least 30 pounds lighter than him into the boards when the puck was nowhere in the vicinity.

Dave Morris said:

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Mike, when you say "They are a couple serious injuries away from bad trouble. And we'll see how those injuries to Hossa, Campbell and Johnsson play out and influence the stretch run to the playoffs", I think you're being optimistic.

A defense corps consisting of Keith, Seabrook, Hjalmarsson, Sopel and Hendry, supposedly seconded by Boynton and Cullimore--which is what the Hawks had for this game...and who knows how long.

Who knows how badly Johnsson is hurt, and if Sopel is even 100%?

Bad trouble.

Jerry Kayne said:

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"my big concern going in is how are we going to have enough adversity in the round robin, the part that doesn't matter as much" ... "so that we could overcome that so we didn't face it at the end, and don't have enough time to overcome it?" Mike Babcock interview on the Gary Bettman Show on NHL.com about the Canadian Olympic Team after the gold medal game.

Ladies and gentlemen, we're in the throws of it now! The Hawks have to learn from it and "man up" now.

"great players do great things" Babcock about Crosby in the same interview. Time for the best Blackhawks to be the best NHL-ers now and into the playoffs. Get the swagger back.

Could this be good timing? This could be the best thing to happen to get their act together in time for the playoff run. Time will tell. Can we stomach it?

VegasHawksFan said:

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Only an idiot would think this isn't a big blow for the Hawks to lose Campbell. Even if Hossa is lost as well, which we don't know right now, I look at this team and say failure is still not acceptable, not when team like the Preds, Coyotes and Avs are very competitive with far less talent. A lot times this year, I felt like the Hawks were just getting by on raw talent rather then because of some solid game plan that every player bought into. They aren't going to suddenly become a grinder team and succeed, but I still think they have more then enough ability to rework how they carry the puck. Have they ever forechecked consistently all year? I still believe that everyone left and Q can elevate their game. If they can't, then this team probably never was what we all thought it was.

Hostile Hawk said:

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It's a shame that Niemi played so well and still ended up with a loss. A zero shot period (the Hawks got credit for a shot with a dump in) is the worst that I have seen from them this year.
My focus is on coach Q at the moment. His inability to make a choice and stick with it is at the top of my concerns with him. Our power play is terrible, the D is a mess, neutral zone movement is poor, players do not seem to know their roles on the ice, the line combinations are still a mystery and Q never says a word. It seems like he is being out-coached in these games. Bad match ups, putting the wrong lines out at the wrong moment and not showing a belief in Niemi. With a talented team like this, there are no excuses.
Silver lining, the Hawks are still in second place in the conference and third overall (Not Bad).
It sucks about Campbell, but I wouldn't overate his contribution to the team. We will be hurt without him, but he has provided many of the Hawks turnovers and defensive breakdowns lately. He was starting to look more defensively strong in the middle, but he has put Hjammer in many compromising situations the past few games. Campbell has speed, but it rarely pays off for the Hawks. Personally, I think Hendry brings more to the team. If Johnsson and Hossa are not healthy soon, then I will get worried. Sorry guys, I am not a Campbell fan.
What Ovechkin did was completely disgraceful. There was no need for that added throw into the boards, especially when Campbell was in a bad position to take something like that. The NHL needs to deal with him, the man needs to calm down a bit.

iplagitr said:

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I tend to agree with Puck. Losing Campbell is a blow, but he's not the glue that holds this team together. With their roster, they can certainly overcome that loss. Didn't I hear Hossa and Johnsson are "day-to-day" and would be traveling with the team? If so, their injuries can't be too serious.

The weekend was discouraging and embarrassing, but this is the kind of stuff you want to happen now. It will make them better in the end, and it gives them time to regroup and get rolling again. Nothing worse than a team the peaks too soon before the playoffs. Plus, I'd rather be the underdog going in. But seriously, if the Hawks don't get themselves into that penalty mess in the third, I think they win that game against the top team in the league (Ovechkin and Hossa both missing). Even as it stands, they totally dropped the ball and still got a point against a top team. I know that's not good enough, but how would we be feeling if the Hawks got blown out 7-2? I still like their chances when they play up to their abilities.

The good news:
- Both Huet and especially Niemi had very good games over the weekend.
- No second period goals allowed.
- One PP goal in each game.
Three big issues addressed successfully. They just forgot that winning was part of the equation too. One other positive... the Sharks only picked up one point out of a possible four this weekend too. However the Canucks are moving up fast.

borg said:

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Johnsson is expected to miss at least the Anaheim game.

The Hawks aren't going to catch the Sharks. That's a pipe dream, with all due respect. SJ has a much easier schedule the rest of the way and the Hawks are hurting. Campbell's minutes, ability to skate the puck out of the zone, and join the rush can't be replaced. Nick Boynton and more Brent Sopel aren't going to cut it.

HawksRule said:

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The Hawks can catch the Sharks. They're only 2 points back and injuries can hit San Jose too. Campbell can't be replaced, but the question is do they need an exact replacement to win? No way.

borg said:

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I disagree. I have had problems with parts of Campbell's game, but overall he's a pretty good player and the Hawks don't have a skater that can come close to replacing him. If Seabrook didn't look like crap for three months and Keith hadn't shown signs of wearing down, I'd be a little less concerned.

HawksRule said:

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OK, so three days ago everyone was saying that Hawks couldn't win with Niemi and Huet in net. Now it's changed to the Hawks can't win without Campbell. I'm not buying it. As was said for the goalie situation, one guy doesn't make or break the team.

borg said:

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Well, I didn't say that, but now that you mention it...

Actually, it's because of their goalie issues that they need their entire roster hitting on all cylinders, not recovering from surgery.

HawksRule said:

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If the Hawks can't win without Campbell, then they don't deserve to win anyway. Great teams find a way to adapt (and I still believe the Hawks are a great team).

In last year's playoffs, the Wings closed out the Hawks winning the last two games of the series without Lidstrom and Datsyuk in their line-up. We're not talking about a couple of role players there! I guarantee you Detroit didn't go into those games thinking they couldn't win without them. And in fact, game 4 was a 6-1 domination for the Wings playing without two of their top guys. Yeah, the Hawks might have to change their game plan a bit without Soup, but maybe that's in order now anyway after their last week.

borg said:

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That Wings team was pretty special. Nearly consecutive Cups with a mediocre at best goaltender. You're asking a lot for the Hawks to replicate them.

fattybeef said:

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Ovechkin is a jerkoff, well more like the left overs after sitting in a towel for 3 months under a bed.

NBC-ism: "its a shame ovechkin is out thats really going to kill our ratings today"

This guy is a goon. And hes a fucking pussy for hitting people when theyre not looking. When youre consistantly the center of misconducts and obvious headhunting theres no whoops, i tapped his shoulder. To bad the NHL will probably open their mouths and swallow again for him becuase of the 50 goals he scores. Say what you want about Crosby being a bitch but you dont get this shit with him. He at least plays hockey.

Seabrook looks awful and the forwards are doing a TERRIBLE job keeping marks and backchecking with any type of urgency. Looking to the playoffs much?

Anyone else think the Scott Skiles effect is starting to take hold with the Q-Stash a-la guys starting to tune him out?

Props to both keepers having solid performances this weekend. Thats defiantely not the problem right now.

The nucks looked fantastic over the weekend. Very sharp, very fast and playing as a team. Theyre definately starting to steam roll and at the right time as well. They also have shown the desire to beat the snot out of teams, not just score a few goalsthen skate around like a bunch of ice dancers.

HawksRule said:

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Not a cut on anyone, but I think it's funny how so many were ragging on Campbell all season and now we're all in doomsday mode when he goes down with an injury. I think his best assets don't help this team as much as they might help others. The Hawks may be better off with a stay at home type D-man at his point. They have enough speed and skill up front. As pointed out already, this young team has the skills to win it, but right now they need coaching and stability. Their game is a little scattered now, but as guitar mentioned, without the penalty parade they probably would have still won yesterday against the league's best, and without Hossa and Campbell. Bad luck has followed this team all season. They're due for a good spell. They'll turn it around.

Hostile Hawk said:

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I agree with this post.
Having a defensive defensemen in the line up will help this team. Campbell's ability to move the puck usually ended up in turn-overs or a dump in anyway. The Hawks have got to get better at movement through the neutral zone with passes to key forwards.
As mentioned by yourself and Guitar, that penalty destroyed them, but it was the result of a chasing team that was getting beaten to pucks. The Hawks don't give the Cap's that inch, then no penalties and Niemi probably records a shutout against the top offensive team in the league.
On another note, I wouldn't be so quick to think the goaltending situation is fixed. I am also opposed to having a rotation into the playoffs. Huet's performance was much better than any others by him as of late, but he really wasn't asked to make tremendous saves either. He was still over-commiting and slow to react on occasions. I thought Niemi showed his possibilities and looked really strong.

Dave Morris said:

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If the hockey gods have any sense of justice, Nick Boynton channels Reggie Fleming and The Nieminator rises to the occasion.

Anyway, the Blackhawks are better as underdogs.

VegasHawksFan said:

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Well, considering the Hawks have such a hard time playing with lead, your logic might not be far off Mr. Morris. After being hated last season and bitched about incessantly because his play didn't seem to justify his salary, Campbell became one of the better D's last year in the playoffs. Early in the season, this team rocked with it's transitional game, and Campbell was definitely a contributor to that. As a whole, I think this team has struggled mightily with trap systems. Comparatively, I think Campbell was much better at carrying the puck in the face of pressure. This is not to say he couldn't get ragdolled and tossed around. But when it comes to a strong forecheck, I think he handles it better then most of the D.

Going through center ice, I gotta disagree with you Puck. Nobody but Kane is able to carry through four defenders stacked up at the blue line. When he has room, Campbell has awesome speed and can carry the puck in deep. When the team is getting trapped, none of the D can do much but dump the puck in. I have been bitching for awhile now suggesting they need to simplify their transition game and play tighter. With Campbell gone, I would think they really have no choice but to shrink their game a little and not rely on quick D to move the puck all the way into the zone. If we want stay at home D, then the D have to stay at home, dump the puck in and let the forwards chase the puck down.

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