I am saving the Cap mumbo jumbo for the last paragraph. Reading about numbers hurts my head, and so I choose to look at other things. Things like the standings situation which is also futile given the ridiculous situation. A situation that allows the Hawks to go on an 8 game winning streak and gain no insurance. Sure, the Hawks have only won 1 regulation game out of their last 5, but they have only lost 2 out of their last 13 including the Dallas beating. Perspective is everything folks. Stats can be skewed in so many different directions. In that stretch, Toews has something like 21 points and he was held to goose eggs in Dallas. You win some and you lose some. Regardless of how many skaters they had, the Hawks just didn't have it in them for the Dallas game.
View from the Bench. The Blackhawks time off spells the need for a win tomorrow.
A team that does have wins in them right now is the Coyotes. They beat Vancouver yesterday 3-1 which puts them in a comfortable 4th place for the moment. "For the moment" is the key phrase. Phoenix is now only 1 point behind the hot Sharks and have won 5 in a row, which is good enough for the hottest team in the league right now. The Hawks are in a desperate need of changing that tomorrow. But before we even get to tomorrow, there are some important games happening today which could help a bit on the perspective of the Hawk's situation. Nashville plays Detroit, Dallas plays Philly, and Los Angeles plays Anaheim. A great many things can shift in the standings based on today's games. Nashville, Dallas, and Los Angeles losing could help the comfort of the Hawks during tomorrow's game. If that were to happen, a win in Phoenix would place them in 5th all alone. Nashville and Anaheim also play tomorrow, and if they win both of their games, they could create some crazier craziness. Honestly, I want to see Nashville make the playoffs, so seeing them beat up on Detroit today and losing to the Sabres tomorrow would cause some happiness on my behalf.
Coming off of a really rough loss, I will try not to talk about it as much as possible, the Hawks need to re-establish a groove. We all thought the Sharks game was that element, but injured and sick players leading to a short bench hurt that flow. Had the Hawks been able to dress Bolland or Campbell the result is probably different, but as was noted already, the Hawks just didn't have it from the start. Campbell might be back tomorrow which will help the cause, given some of the reasons for the Dallas loss, I think these chances increase. Bolland could be missed for a great many games and as many of you agree, having both of these guys healthy is crucial to the Hawk's success at the tail end of the season.
The Power Play will be hugely significant tomorrow. Might even be my biggest key to the game. Phoenix is one of the worst PK teams in the league and the Hawks need to take advantage of that. All 7 meetings between these 2 teams over the past 2 seasons have been decided by 1 or 2 goals, and 4 went to shootouts. The next thing is watching ice time. Keith and Seabrook have been terrible lately, especially Keith, and especially when skating more than 22 minutes during the game. I was happy to see Campoli's ice time jump and even out with theirs, but Hjammer probably could have skated a bit more. The administration should be doing whatever they can to address the, at times horrific play of Keith. Another concern of mine lately and I think I brought it up in a past post is Sharp's performance. Not his goal scoring abilities, but his back-checking. This could also be the result of ice-time, but I doubt it. He ate up ice in previous years and was a defensive force. Something is wrong there. Surprise, surprise, he was a negative 2 last game. The only player worse in that department was Hossa.
The only 2 players that did not register a negative in that department was Johnson and Stalberg, and wouldn't you know it, they saw more ice time than usual. This proves that using these guys more often will not hurt the team, and maybe given the circumstance of last game, should have been used more. With Bolland out, Johnson needs to be used as much as possible. He is one of the few aggressive PK guys on the team, and watching the current PK system having guys standing around is brutal to watch. If the Hawks can finally become more like last year's PK and out-skate their opponents when short, they will start winning more close games. Another improvement that needs to be made over the last game is covering the D when they pinch. The Hawks were killed by an abundance of odd-man rushes. Some players were sleeping when the D rushed up. On many occasions, the D should have stayed put, but the wingers still need to be more aware of the occurrence. When the Hawks win tomorrow, Phoenix's record will not be any better than the Hawk's given that Phoenix has 2 games in hand. Play smart, play hard, score on the PP and that will happen.
Lastly, there has been a lot of talk about the salary cap and the organization's decision to skate a short bench against Dallas. Not dressing a full bench seems to say that they don't really care so much about this season. However, when I look at the score sheet, the only area that calls concern to it when looking at ice-time is that Kopecky skated more than Frolik. That seems to make little sense to me, and Im one of the biggest Kopecky supporters. I don't see the Hawks winning that game with another skater. But, I was also made aware recently through some friends of Niemi's, that I recently met through my wife, that as far as Niemi knows, now offer was made to him by the Hawks during the break. I am not really much for rumors, but I am starting to wonder more about the administration. Adding to earlier issues at the beginning of the season, trusting in Stan is something I am not so quick to do. The recent Seabrook deal, given his play this year was pretty shocking as well, but like I said, I suck at math and looking at numbers hurts my head.