Can the Blackhawks make this the Turning Point?

This season has been ridden with ups and downs. You could say the only thing the Hawks are consistent at is not being consistent. Never too many wins in a row, never too many losses, a true to nature .500 team. And yet on paper, this team seems well beyond only playing .500 hockey. There is far too much talent. Still, the constant banter around the league is how they lost so many players during the off season. Loosing that many players, especially those with so much energy, and maybe thats just what the problem is. Energy, intensity, drive, and a fun atmosphere. Not that the Hawks still don't have determined players, or life of the party kind of guys in the locker room, they just might have dissrupted the atmosphere too much with all the changes.

With this last win the Hawks improve to a 3 and 1 record in the last 4 games. This could have easily been a 4 and 0 streak, loosing to Columbus was just brutal. It has led to a better position in the standings and kept them within striking distance of 4th place. Thank you Dallas for finally hitting a loosing streak. But the reason I bring up this nice little strectch has nothing to do with the standings. I bring it up because their is something worth pointing out about it.
This blog has had a theme which gets mentioned here and there. This theme has not been mentioned anywhere else as far as I have seen or read. The theme is coaching issues. As we have brought up here on PowWow more than once, the isolated issues and concerns of this team can all trace back to coaching. Not playing a full 60 is a conditioning issue which is a coaching concern, having a poor penalty kill can stem from not running a good system, and not using the proper players at the right time is a coaching decision, to name a few. This team is not perfect by any means, but I think they have more than enough to go far with it, and that is just not happening. 
The Hawks went 3 and 1 in the last 4 games under the guidance of a different coach at the helm. That has to be pointed out, especially with all of the concerns of the season placing pressure on the team. Sometimes it is just the relationship that the coach has with the players. Every player will respond to different stimulus. I recall a time when I was on a team with a lot of talent, but was losing games to teams we had constatntly beeaten in the past. The difference was that we started off the season with new coaches. It took a while, but eventually the team was performing so badly that the administration let those coaches go and brought back our old coach. The change in play, the difference in our practices, the change in momentum happened overnight and we started winning some games and even salvaged the season.
With this big comeback, and apparent words in the locker room (kudos to Haviland for letting his captain take the floor), is this the point where it all turns around? The Hawks made a statement with that win, if not to the world, then atleast to themselves. I am not getting my hopes up, but I felt a shift in atmosphere when the Hawks fought back to play the best 2nd period of the year. And they did it after playing 3 games in 4 days.
But I want to hear all your takes on that game, whether or not it seems like a turning point, and if coaching had anything to do with it. Honestly, I didn't think Haviland was perfect or anything. He even made some bad decisions during play, but he sure did use his bench more.


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  • As with what happened to the caps in the 24/7 series, I think this could be a turning point. But, to believe, I will have to see the veterans truly step up and display a "Fuck you we are the champs" attitude. Much as I gripe about Q, I can't put that one on him. I can't think of a single player who I think has dogged it. But I can think of several who look like they just aren't as into it as last year. Q benches the non core players, but does he have the guts to do it to Sharp for lack of defense or Kane for that matter. Does he have the stones to just bench Kane outright if the off ice stuff is true and is a locker room distraction. Behind the scenes, we don't know what is happening in that room, which leaves a lot to speculate about.

    From the outside looking in, I tend to think a coaching change does one of two things. If the coach has lost the room (Keenan?) players immediately pick up their game if for no other reason then to say, "Yep, wasn't our fault we were losing at all". In another scenario, a new coach with a fresh outlook may give the players a shot of confidence that they've got something new up their sleeve to be competitive. When I was complaining about the predictability the other day, they did almost look bored to me- D toD, right wing pass, stop at half boards, turn over puck, chase back. Considering the team under Haviland didn't really do a lot of new stuff, I don't think he's a long term answer. At this point, I do think Q still has a big hand in things, but it will also take nothing short of that second period intensity to make this team relevant this year. I have to admit, I'm pretty skeptical right now.

  • My take is this. Q is a winner, there's no denying that. One only has to look at his record. While I think any number of coaches could have led the team to the cup last year

  • I think the effort has been inconsistent because the team chemistry has not jelled. The Hawks have played tentatively most of the year, as though they're uncertain what to do next. They aren't tough enough to get into trench warfare. They have to be a step ahead and win with speed and precision. That gets down to knowing and trusting your linemates.

    I also think the Cup hangover is a real thing. They began the year tired and have played like it. Duncan Keith. I'll say no more.

    The Q rant sounds suspiciously like the suit-haters rant. Boys, once the players jump the boards it is their rodeo 100%. A game is a series of battles, one after the other. The players win them or lose them. Win 'em and you have momentum and can attack. Lose 'em and you have blown leads and, well, where the Hawks are now.

    Q isn't the problem. Winning the battles one at a time until that artistry we saw last year can again emerge. It ain't over 'til it's over.

  • In reply to jorput:

    Your first line is so true and just about says it all. Chemistry, you can't trade for it, can't draft it, can't imagine it either. It is, or it isn't, and personnel decisions this year were apparently the wrong mixture. SB unloaded, justified or not, cap or no cap, some of the grit, toughness and defensive play that we're all pining for this year. He replaced it with soft, skilled finesse type players and a bunch of 500k contracts which will disappear through free agency at year's end. He'll get another kick at it next year. Lesson learned I hope.

  • In reply to jorput:

    I wrote a comment that was way too long and then accidentally deleted it.
    It basically said that I agree with icehogst about the hangover thing, but then added that the if the Hawks miss the playoffs, it will be only the 4th time it happened in the history of the NHL.

    I also said, with all fairness to my critiques of Q, I had them last year too. This is not a new thing from my mouth. The Hawks talent got them through what I saw as too many consistent coaching errors last year. I listed some of those, and I feel they might be coming back to bite Q this year, but now Im out of breath.

  • In reply to puckpowwow:

    Good point. Tiredness is no excuse for missing the playoffs altogether. They gotta have more oomphh than that.

    Congratulations on your new home HH. Looking forward to your posts well into the spring...and early summer?!

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