The streak is over, and I no longer have any hair. I lost it during what some might call an onslaught of shots, a barrage of chances, and a ridiculous example of domination by one team over another. The Hawks outshot their opponent 40-15, and yet, against a team without any playoff hopes, lost in regulation. They managed to lose a game under these circumstances by playing hockey with their heads up their butts in the 1st period. Clumsy passing, bone-headed defensive plays, not finishing checks and a lack of hunger (I use that word because it was mentioned in a past post) allowed a team to score 3 unanswered goals in the 1st. A team that seems mostly composed of minor league players given that they could be man-handled the way they were in the 3rd. Not only did the Hawks miss out on an always crucial 2 points, and end a great streak in all the wrong ways, but they also put themselves in a bad place to win tomorrow. Tired.
All good things must come to an end, Hawks fall in Florida.
Have I set the stage well enough? Pure and simple, the Hawks lost tonight because of a weak mindset coming in. This game is the best example of how a team can dominate every area of a game for 40 minutes and then lose because of the other 20. You had to know that the late goal in the 1st was the nail in the coffin, and I still thought the Hawks had it in them to pull a win out of their hats. They have scored 3 or more goals in the past 9 games, so it was mostly plausible.
Flash back to the early 1st. Hawks come out of the gate well enough, and then a missed opportunity for a big hit goes unplaced, then a weak pass, and a poorly converted odd-man rush leads to a chance in the other direction. Now I notice that Florida is skating pretty damn good for a team in their condition and I start to worry. Not a moment later, a bounce goes the Panther's way which ends up leaving Leddy confused for once on what man he should take and that gives the Panthers enough time to pick up a huge rebound to go up 1-0. Not much later Hjammer makes one of those bone-headed plays I mentioned and hands the puck over to the Panthers on a breakout that should have taken advantage of Florida's line-change. Instead, a few bad bounces against the Hawks and a 2-0 deficit digs the whole a little deeper.
It seemed like the Hawk's ego was a bit too large, because they still kept from waking up and playing hockey. I honestly can't even remember how it happened, but with 8 seconds left on the clock, Florida went up 3-0 off of a killer wrist shot from Reasoner. And that my friends was the game winner. A goalie change and apparent verbal thrashing during the intermission caused an awful lot of excitement and scoring chances by the Hawks in the 2nd. A great goal by Kane (who was playing surprisingly good defense) off of a Campbell set-up brought the Hawks back into the game and also seemed to light a fire under the Hawks. Cut to a goal beyond beauty by the Hossa, Bolland, Bickell line which brought the Hawks within one, and where they ended up staying, but also game the Hawks life. This is where the game changed from being an actual game and turned into a brutal attack of an entire team against one man.
I really don't think the Panthers should feel much glee over the win. 15 shots against 40 is nothing to be proud of. The only player who gets to walk away from this one with a smile on his face is Tomas Vokoun who was the only one left standing after that brutal attack. As good as Vokoun was, the Hawks missed as many chances, which is where my hair went. If anything can be learned from the game, and I hope something was learned. It is that the Hawks can be really, really good when they want to. I just hope they can decide to be good all of the time. Now I just wish they have saved a bit of energy for Tampa.
Some things I took away from the game: Campoli is a huge offensive threat, and he really wants to show his worth for the Hawks. One of the more physical players of the game, he was a strong foundation on D and always there for an offensive rush. He could have had the game tying goal on a few occasions, and he also caused a couple strong chances. Im still waiting for Seabrook to completely wake up. I realized that Sharp used to hit a lot more, and that Hossa has 7 goals in 8 games. The win could have brought them 4 points away from Detroit. It leaves them 6 points away instead, and still only 3 points out of 9th place. As I write this, Vancouver and Phoenix are tied, and so is San Jose and Nashville. It is a shame that winning 8 games in a row doesn't buy a little bit of insurance. Such is the West. So who plays in net tomorrow for the Hawks?