Screw your Shutout! Blackhawks 1, Stars 2

Screw your Shutout! Blackhawks 1, Stars 2

It is with regret that I inform you about how last nights season opener with the Dallas Stars looked a bit too similar to what we saw from the Hawks in preseason. Avoiding the shutout with 13 seconds left in the game is much too little too late, and it had me scratching my head in reaction to some coaching choices and the inability for the Hawks to find twine in a 22 shot 2nd period.

Power-plays were abundant, far too abundant to be left scoreless through 59 minutes of play. The Hawks went 0 for 10, showing beautiful passing, smart movement at times, but no net presence. The featured picture shines a little light as to the reason why. The reason for the loan goal fills in the blanks. More on that shortly.

7 is the number of the night, and it has nothing to do with Brent Seabrook, who had a strong performance. In fact, Seabrook and Hjalmer had really strong performances as partners in what was a jumbled defense otherwise. No, the 7 is in reference to the number of defensemen dressed for last nights game. Baffled, I tried to justify the decision after hearing the news. It must have something to do with the Montador situation (mistake). Unsure of his play, the Hawks aren't even confident enough in the newly signed 2.5 mil defenseman that essentially caused the loss of Chris Campoli ( a great defenseman and loss that is surely to hurt).

The overall play of the Hawks was far too consistent with the clumsy, unorganized, nervous defensive play we saw in the preseason. Dressing 7 D-men and double shifting a forward played a role in that. Moving Montador to forward late in the game added insult to injury. We can pay Jordan Hendry a fraction of his salary to be more effective in that role.

The exaggerated display of line juggling from the 2nd period on sealed the deal for a far too superior Hawks offense to be unable to convert. The Hawks sure got cutesy with the puck, but had issues getting it on net, and they still registered 38 shots. Lehtonen was great in net, but the Hawks made him look better.

Dallas was more than comfortable allowing the Hawks freedom in their zone, and the Hawks never took advantage of it. Use the screen, find a hole and fire the puck on net. Then, pick the rebound up.

Here are my bullet point observations from the game.

  • Corey Crawford looked really good, especially early on. He is calm, confident, cutting of the angles, challenging the shots, and even playing the puck really well.
  • Kane was playing hockey with a new found confidence and mission to kill. Really, he was a treat to watch and will score many goals if he keeps it going.
  • Keith still looks a bit off. His blatant mistake caused the Hawks a goal and possibly the win.
  • The Hawks were out hit 37-16. Probably because they had the puck all day, but still. Bickell seemingly had half of our hits ( I like what I saw from him).
  • Frolik also looked great. I think he played on every single line, changing positions as he did, but he continued to be a threat, and also had some impressive face-off wins.
  • Pirri also looked strong. Far outshining Saad, Pirri generated plenty of scoring chances, shame he didn't have that magical touch displayed in the preseason.
  • The PK looked decent, but I can't help cringing at seeing the same face I see on the PP all day. Be wary of playing certain players too much Q. No way Keith deserved that much ice.
  • Leddy looked ready to fill the role of puck-moving defenseman. But do not pair him with Keith please.
  • Stop being cutesy when the pucks aren't going in. Seriously.
  • Should I even complain about the line juggling anymore, it's obviously going nowhere.

Part of the PP woes were due to the smart and reactive play the Stars showed in reaction to the Hawks play. They knew that the backdoor play was coming and laid out in the slot over and over again, taking it away, just like the picture above illustrates. They were reactive to our play, but we were not to theirs. In essence, the Hawks were out-coached.

On the plus side: The Hawks offense looks like it should overwhelm Dallas at home tonight. Dallas was lucky to avoid a few too many close calls. Bolland might return, what that means for Pirri I don't know, but Bolland in the line-up is a good thing. The Hawks lost a couple points last night, I expectretribution tonight.

 

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  • In case you were worried about some coaching choices last night, fear not, because the Hawks have decided to send Pirri back down to Rockford in exchange for Kruger. Nevermind that Pirri showed well last night and significantly outplayed Kruger in every way possible during training camp.

    I guess Bolland is a no go. Surprise.

  • I'll probably repeat a little of this when the post for Saturday night's game goes up, but for now, I think the Hawks are in a pretty similar spot that they were in last year, which is to say that they are VERY dependent on a guy like Bolland and they are dependent on their core having a good game every night.

    A thought I had related to the Friday night game was that it looked like just another pre season game. In the Hawks pre season, I liked seeing all the kids get some ice time but I wonder if that might have held the team back a bit in getting the free agents synched with the core. It's nice to see a bounce back to Saturday night's game, but I honestly think Thursday night's game against the Jet's will say something. Weak teams gritted out wins against the Hawks all last year. On paper SB addressed this over the summer but now it's time to see if it really translates to the ice.

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