Blackhawks Confidential

Blackhawks Need to Focus on Game, Not Pregame

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It gives me the chills to think about the pregame festivities scheduled for the Blackhawks home opener tonight.  The first regular season National Anthem at the Madhouse since the Cup was won paired with the raising of the Championship Banner; that's more adrenaline than Cub's fans will produce in a lifetime.  Oh and did I mention it's against the Red Wings?  That team we've all hated for as long as we've been breathing has to sit and watch an enormous Indian Head tattooed on a Stanley Cup rise to the rafters as 20,000+ fans chant "Detroit Sucks!"  That should help mend our differences, ha.  But as great as the pregame ceremony and anthem will be, the Hawks need to remain focused on what really counts, the 60 minutes of hockey they will play after the opening faceoff.


Once the banner rises to it's spot in United Center immortality the 2009-2010 season officially becomes a thing of the past.  No more chugging beer from the Cup, no more ring ceremonies, the spoils of victory will be over and an 0-0-1 team is all that remains.  Even though around Chicago many believe a repeat is in order, the rest of the sports world has already written off the Blackhawks.  Not one ESPN "expert" chose the Hawks to repeat, 2 chose them to win the West, and best of all, 0 chose them to win the Central Division.  Why has a majority of the sports world made the Hawks an afterthought?  Well let me tell you... the Detroit Red Wings.

Even after winning the Cup and retaining it's core, no one outside of the Windy City believes the Hawks have taken the pilot's seat in this 85 year rivalry.  I don't know about you, but to me that's blatant disrepect.  Disrespect that makes tonight's game against Detroit one of the most important in the history of this rivalry.  Letting the Dead Wings stomp all over us tonight makes last season seem like a blip in Detroit's dominance of hockey the last 15 years.  Flipping the coin however, a blowout by the Blackhawks signifies a final changing of the guard, one that ESPN and most other hockey gurus have not yet boughten in to.

So what's the key to victory tonight?  It all starts with the defense.  Turco may have appeared to be in desperation mode a lot last game but his overall performance was adequate.  It's up to the d-men to tighten up and allow less shots on Marty.  If anyone saw Detroit's dismantling of Anaheim last night they know that the Wings are firing on all cylinders right out of the gate (Similar to Colorado).  Their precision passing will pick the Hawks apart tonight if the defense doesn't improve from Thursday.

The power play must also improve from the Avalanche game.  Regardless of how it gets done the puck has to get deep in the zone.  The drop passes and solo tactics didn't amount to many chances against Colorado so maybe it's time for the dump and chase.  If the Hawks can get set up in the offensive zone they have the assets to be deadly with the man advantage.

Lastly, the Q shuffle must be effective.  Against the Avs pairing Kane and Toews led to 2 great chances and putting Hossa with Sharp led to a goal.  A Kane-Toews-Bickell line also had a very impressive 90 second span in the Colorado zone.  I'm not sure what inspires the line shuffling or what shuffled them back even after obvious success, but Q changing up the looks can be a crucial element to the Blackhawks attack.

That's all I've got for now, hopefully come tomorrow there will be nothing but good things to say!  Enjoy the game tonight, go Blackhawks!!!     

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10 Comments

Andrew Z. said:

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Hey Paul. I totally agree. Now that the 2010-2011 season has begun we need to quit celebrating our success from last year and focus on this season.

beaverwarrior said:

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Any word on why Sharp isn't playing tonight?

borg said:

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Upper-body injury.

Speculation is a mild concussion.

borg said:

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Well, the Hawks played a decent game, mostly for two periods. But when your PP stinks and your goalie is giving up goals that might make Cristobal Huet blush, you're not going beat a team like Detroit.

Kopecky is close to useless. Yet he somehow played more minutes than Kane tonite. That's a joke.

Keith played over 30 minutes again and while he cleaned up his turnover problem from Thursday, his decision making on the PP was poor. The one guy they should be looking to get the puck to is Kane, but Keith kept passing to the left-side boards.

And my major worry preseason is becoming a big issue early. Even while hiding Scott, Hendry and Boynton as much as possible, they're still getting burned when they're on the ice, although Boynton played a decent game.

On the positive front, Skille was excellent is limited minutes and Dowell played well. Bickell was also good.

CRB said:

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Just because Kopecky had a bad game doesn't mean he's useless, he will be a valuable asset to the team once he gets his head out of his ass and starts to play his game, as he did for us last year. The player that has been useless, would be Scott, he has been awful on the ice. A huge guy who cant stay on his feet long enough to make a pass or hit someone.

borg said:

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Okay, next to useless.

And the fact is Kopecky's done little of anything his whole career. He'd probably be okay on a 4th line.

VegasHawksFan said:

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Coming from work, I had to watch them lose before going back to watch from the beginning. With Detroit, there is always a familiar story, if you blow coverage, they will score. Period. I'm not sure which kid gave up chase on Fillpulla to go across ice and chase the puck (where there were already two red sweaters) but that was a bad decision. And then Filpulla loses control of the puck and scores while falling on his ass, that goal sucked really bad. For long stretches of the game, the Hawks outplayed the wings and on the plus side, Dan Fucking Cleary did not pick off a D to D pass and bury it. I'm not kidding when I say that's progress.

The positives for me. Despite sucking ass on the power play, I thought the Hawks played a pretty complete game. Detroit is a good team and even when you hustle you are not going to keep the from getting chances all night. The youth movement is coming along and the fourth line leaves me feeling encouraged. Both of these teams are going to get better as the season progresses, but I think the Hawks have a little more upside with their youth than Detroit has with it's veterans. Detroit's best line tonight was it's second and Sharp was really missed. Flat out, they need Campbell back. Boynton can be serviceable when he has his head out of his ass and Leddy looked better, but they need Campbell. I'm not going to go to far defending Kopecky, but he is not going to make up for the loss of a guy like Sharp and carry that kind of weight. On any given night with a full line up, his willingness to go the net is probably helpful. When he needs to be a playmaker though, forget it. He's not that good.

Hostile Hawk said:

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A playmaker Kopecky is not. You nailed it Borg. Turco was not the difference that was needed. I am happy with Kopecky's aggressive play, especially in front of the net, but he had a weak game last night. When you are missing a guy like Sharp other players need to step up. Skille understood that, but Bolland and company didn’t. If we get stronger games from Bolland, Kopecky and Kane (Kane needs guys with him to make things happen and no one was helping him out), the Hawks probably win.
The cycling performance put on by Skille and Stalberg was quite a great show. Hard work along the boards, quick hands and muscle almost resulted in a Hawks win coming from the 4th line.
The PP was where this game was lost. The Hawks zone coverage was great, but when you have 3 power-plays in a row in the third when your down 1 and can only muster 1 shot on net, your going to loose that game. I am pointing my finger at the blue-liners on that one. They weren’t making any of the right passes and then fumbling those that cam to them.
I also feel pretty happy that when the Hawks are still having growing pains, down 2 prime players and can still almost pull out a win against Detroit, in fact they should have won, things don’t look so bad for the future.
I thought Boynton looked really good, and Leddy continues to impress. Campbell back in the line-up creates a pretty damn strong D.
On a huge plus side, I think the issues presenting themselves are obvious and easily worked on. It has been a rough start, but it has also exposed the holes in their game. The passing was mostly just terrible, terrible, terrible. Nothing was connecting, the right passes weren’t getting made. Get to work in practice, patch up the holes, get healthy and I place the Hawks well above Detroit later in the season.

Alex1 said:

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Kopecky has brutal hands and is not a first line player.

Like others, I remain encouraged about this team. Entirely healthy and after working the kinks out, they will be a force to be contended with and a match for the Wings or any other team.

iplagitr said:

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Tough loss, but as has been noted, it was a better game than their first. As PowWow said, the PP has to improve if they want success. No excuse for not tying it in the third with multiple PPs. Still, even with two big names out of the line-up, they could have won. The Wings had one nice goal and the others were garbage.

Lets keep in mind the Hawks had a 1-2 start last season, including a 3-2 loss to the Wings. They'll get things going soon. They're still trying to get back to reality from all the celebration. They've found out quickly that past success doesn't win games. Time to go back to work.

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