Well, ten games are on the books. Right now, the Hawks are 6-2-2 while last year after ten they were 5-4-1. As one of the more winded people on this site, I like to dissect and look for things I think are significant. And when that fails, I start pulling stuff outta my ass to fill in the space. This may turn out to be a lot of the latter. Where the Hawks sit right now is pretty respectable to me. If they manage to pull out a win tonight against the Preds, I will consider that a very good start to the season. If they lose tonight, it will be a decent start to the season and we will likely bitch tomorrow about Erat scoring an obnoxious goal after being left alone in the crease. Either way, I'm going to step out and make an obnoxious prediction that these first ten games have already given us a preview of what the rest of the season is likely to look like.
Right now, we've seen a decent variety of styles the Hawks will see this season. The team names will change, but the extent of variety probably won't. From the Hawks, I also don't believe they are going to significantly change from what they look like now. I do believe they will get better as the season progresses and I do believe, as their record shows now, that they are going to win a handful of games that were more or less predictable losses to weaker but gritter teams last year. But, when it comes down to it, the personality that this core has developed is going to be evident from now until playoff time. Some nights, they will all show up, play inspired hockey and dominate. Other nights, they will fall back, cycle the puck endlessly in the corner for ten minutes and then give up a breakaway goal that is scored in less then ten seconds and they will lose despite "controlling" the game. In between, the pickups that SB made over the summer are going to step up and make the difference in that handful of games I mentioned and at the end of the season, that is going to make a big difference.
On paper, this year's record is one more win and one more tie compared to last year. Small as that seems, I think this year's ten games, like last year's first ten games is going to establish a trend. From start to finish last year, the Hawks were pretty much a five hundred team. This year, with some better additions then the team had to work with last year, the Hawks have shown at least an ability to handle most styles of hockey they will consistently see this year. Whether they stay motivated to show up do so will be the big question. We know how Q operates, we now have a fair idea of what each player can do, and I don't particularly see many surprises coming down the road. The power play can and likely will improve some, Carcillo might continue to have an inspired contract year, and guys like Stals and Bickell might finally take "that big step forward" (or not). But, for the regular season, I think it's going to look similar to last year with the exception that at any given point, they are going to have a better record then last year and the improvement will likely be most noticed at season's end when they aren't hoping Dallas loses so they can squeak in.
If that sounds pessimistic, I actually think it's overall positive. We are still going to bitch about Q, John Scott, Campbell's overpaid replacement- Montador, and undoubtedly we are going to complain about lack of physicality, lack of net presence and too many cute passes. Overall though, the record will keep grinding along getting slightly better and leave them in good shape at the end of the year. I don't see many catalysts, but I think that's okay. Anyone else feeling like Nostradamus today?
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