Blackhawks v Blues: Why don't you kick my dog while your at it?

Blackhawks v Blues: Why don't you kick my dog while your at it?

Depressing.

Following a performance in a game that shall not be mentioned again, the Hawks bounced back with the type of play that ended up leaving them scoreless through the entire game. The Chicago Blackhawks were beat 3-0 nothing by a Blues team who was showcasing their new coach for the first time this Tuesday night in a game that leaves little to smile about.

They came out of the gate looking a little more inspired, controlling most of the puck-posession in the first 5 minutes, but gave up the majority of scoring chances. As the period progressed it became clear that the Hawks just did not have it together and only trailing by 1 after the first 20 was a thing of luck. There were no quality scoring chances in the first for the Hawks, and this was a pattern that continued for the next 30 minutes or so of play.

Beginning this game with more than a few changes, one involving the always confusing John Scott in the line-up, the questions were building well before puck drop. In what world is playing Scott over Lepisto, or O'Donnell a logical decision? Not a shocker that the first goal happened when Scott was on the ice. However, it was Montador's fault, playing about 2 feet away from Scott on one side of the ice, completely ignoring his man sneaking in behind him. This would be far from Montador's only mistake of the game.

Why is a player like Olesz sitting out so many games, especially at his price-tag and then being dropped into the 3rd line out of nowhere? Or, why is Frolik being moved away from Bolland?

This Hawks team is looking extremely unorganized, and uninspired, making terrible decisions on and off the ice and in every way possible at the moment.

  • Continued is the same old story on the PP (no pressure in front, bad use of the point, hesitation on passes and shots)
  • Continued are the long pass attempts that lead to icings or turnovers
  • Continued is a beat-down physically (getting easily bumped off of pucks all night). Carcillo was demolished in his fight with Reaves, who also put Scott on his ass along the boards later in the game.
  • Continued are the lack of big hits from anyone in a Hawks jersey (Hjalmer did have a great hit late though)
  • Added was a newly found inability to pass the puck (most likely a result of the new lines)
  • Added is a building frustration in a lack of production

A ray of light tonight was how much Q went to his 4th line. I thought Mayers and Stalberg were 2 of the best players on the ice in this game, and Q played them more as a result. This needs to become a more frequent pattern. Playing the 4th line more aggressively will result in a healtheir team come playoffs.

The most depressing aspect of the game though, was how bad the Blues out-skated and out-worked the Hawks. I have said it time and time again, "what the heck goes on during practice?" Even the worst power-play in the league can score on the Hawks right now, and again the Hawks go scoreless on the man-advantage against a team with an equally hurting PK. But, at equal strength and getting beat to pucks this way is inexcusable.

The Hawks finally got some momentum going late in the 2nd, eventually leading to another PP. They start it off by icing the puck (seriously), and follow through with the same old crap of hesitation and a whole lot of nothing. Please, please practice quicker passes and one-timers. Just keep firing the puck after moving side to side. Don't hesitate, just fire it. If everyone is having to move, including the goalie, things will happen. How many times is net presence by the Hawks going to be an issue? This is not rocket science, and the cutesy stuff or back-door is obviously not happening.

Cut to about 10 minutes later and we see the same story. Stalberg works hard to get the puck out of the zone, eventually leading to another Hawks power-play. Stalberg actually gets a played on this PP (can't decide whether or not that is a good choice), Brunette has a back-door opportunity spoiled by the ever waiting defenseman, and the Blues get a 2-on-1 the other way. This ends up leading to a moment of craziness causing another Hawks power-play which leads to more nothing.

We even saw Toews making bad plays and losing the puck on his own.

Hey, I have a solution, why not change the line combos?

And in the 3rd we saw just that. The result was actually decent. A Toews, Stalberg, Mayers grouping caused some real action, put traffic in front of Halak, got to dirty hockey and almost scored a goal. Unfortunately, when the team is this frustrated, things have a habit of not going in your direction. No goal, but it did lead to another PP which only served to add more pressure and frustration to a terrible power-play unit.

The Hawks did start looking better in the 3rd, but it could also be mentioned that the Blues sat back a bit. I just heard a comment from Q on the radio, and went like this, "It doesn't matter who is on what line if no one is skating hard enough." Very true Q, but why change the lines so much then, and more importantly, what are you doing to get your team ready for these games? If a team is consistently unprepared for games, I look at coaching and nowhere else.

The Hawks next game is against the worst team in the conference. Looks like an opportunity to get their stuff together, or to put everyone in a deeper hole.

I can be optimistic and point to the early winning record. I could also point to the level of talent that this team possesses. Then I look at how the games have been won and lost and start to worry. The lack of wins in regulation, the 3 points accrued in OT losses, and the same old concerns pointed out from game to game regardless of the win or loss start to paint a new, less optimistic picture. It would seem that the amount of things going well is equal to those going wrong right now. Is your glass half full?

CHICAGO TRIBUNE VIDEO

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  • Two things you said HH really made me look away from Q,

    "The most depressing aspect of the game though, was how bad the Blues out-skated and out-worked the Hawks."
    "A Toews, Stalberg, Mayers grouping caused some real action, put traffic in front of Halak, got to dirty hockey and almost scored a goal."

    For 1.85 periods of hockey, the Hawks skated in, took a perimeter shot and either lined up for the faceoff or retreated if the puck was kicked to the corner. Yesterday, I said I felt both top lines need either a big body or a fearless soul to go to the net and in the third, the Hawks finally did this. As you said though, by that point they were very frustrated. Where I will fault Q on this is for not putting a guy on each top line who will do that dirty work in front of the net. But when Q does put that kind of guy there, the other two need to work with him and get a shot on net that might create a rebound. Sharp, Kane and Hossa putting the puck into the midsection of a goalie is not going to work and I can't put that on Q.

    As always, dirty hockey is not something this team wants to deal with. Carcillo stood up for Kane. Who else has done that since Buff left? On defense, every single player is guilty of never challenging a player in the crease. Just as the Hawks do not challenge other teams for crease space on front of opposing goalies, they will not challenge them in front of Crawford. Is Q preaching something his players are not following? If so, there are bigger problems here. It's not about fighting and intimidating. But it is about being able to, at a minimum, finish checks, establish a fore check, create some traffic and make it difficult to establish a game plan. I will put some of that on Q, but frequently, it's the same guys night after night that we see trying to dangle through traffic, trying to connect the 80 foot pass or skating in by themselves and putting a shot right in the goalie's mid section when the opposing back check pushes them to the corner.

    A final word on Montador and Scott. I'm not a fan of Scott because he does not fulfill the task he is given. Other teams bruisers, Westgarth excepted, will not fight him. I don't consider Scott to be as good as other defenders on the team, but I can't say they lost last night because he was in. I will say that with how Lepisto played recently, he showed enough competence to play this game. What most disturbed me last night though was that Montador appeared pissed off playing with Scott and I remember clearly seeing him refuse to pass to Scott at one point. That is inexcusable. Not only did Montador NOT clear the crease, but he did not appear to make an effort to work with Scott and seemed to want to work around him. If he is one of the room "leaders", this is not a good thing.

  • So, in other words Vegas, you see players who either will not do what Q asks of them, can't do what Q asks of them, or Q is not asking it of them. We see frustrated players trying to do the same old, time after time, which creates the view of a team with no system.
    It has been the same for the past few years: Give the puck to the dazzlers and see if they can generate something, or try a long stretch pass every other breakout.

    Montador was on my list from day 1, given his early performances, and last night dug a huge hole into that list.

    Quick note: I am seeing a lot of people calling for trades now, with Bickell and Stalberg on the top of that list. I have to ask, why Stalberg who has been playing pretty well, especially given his pricetag.

    If anyone deserves some finger pointing right now, player wise, I think Sharp is the most likely object.

  • This team is so predictable it's a joke. I watched about 6 minutes of the first period last night and said, "oh no, it's gonna be another night like the one in Carolina." Hey, big surprise - it ended up 3-0...

    Seems like the only trades they need to make are in the coaching department. It's painful and embarrassing to watch this team do the same unsuccessful things over and over, most notably on the special teams. Pat Foley even said it in the broadcast last night: "other teams watch video, and that back-door PP trick isn't going to work anymore!" It's amazing how these highly talented players can look foolish in a system that isn't working.

    Anyone else getting sick of those same old player comments? "I don't know why came out with no intensity tonight... we weren't moving our feet... we don't know why..." Seems like no one on this team has anything intelligent to say, or any strategy for change.

    PS - Hossa PLEASE elevate the puck when you shoot!

  • Very lucid commentary guys, I've not much to add. For all the excitement generated with the new acquisitions way back in July what we're seeing is more of the same old same old. Both of you touch on the critical issues most significantly "you see players who either will not do what Q asks of them, can't do what Q asks of them, or Q is not asking it of them".

    I find myself continually asking the same question HH, just what is the Blackhawk system? I tried to hastily express that in my garbled post yesterday.

    The game last night was again on Q for his needless line juggling. Sure the players didn't show up but the lack of flow with the new line combos was apparent. I also found myself wondering why they got rid of Troy Brouwer. This team does not like physical hockey and that has been clearly evident in the last two games. They'd be a great pond hockey team but a good team system seems to beat them every time.

  • Hello Friends! Long time no see (Im sure you preferred it that way though! Haha) Ill tell ya, the new addition to the family has left very little time for anything much less blogging some hockey....BUT, that doesnt mean I cant blow off some important work that needs to get done today and check in with you all for a minute...

    The reason for my post today is because I noticed that there was no mention of Chicago goaltending. (perhaps in previous posts but I am referring to only what I read today) As you may know, my team was in a 6 game losing slump recently and all of it had to do with scoring. We scored only 6 goals in 6 games which left my goaltender to either pitch a shutout or lose. Our issues were obvious....scoring.

    The way I read this article, it comes off to me that you all are focused on production alone and not on the other end of the ice. I think the opposite is true. Yes, I understand they were blanked last night however, their GF so far this year has been very respectable. The GAA and Save Percentages of the two goaltenders on the other hand would be raising a flag with me if it were my team. Crawford is sporting a 2.68 (.908) and Emery a 3.26 GAA (.089). That is good enough for the lower middle and bottom of the pack so far this season. Do you think there may be an issue between the pipes?

    Admittedly I have not watched every Hawks game so far this season and my opinion is based soley on the numbers. I know a lot more goes into GA than just poor play of the goaltenders But I have to believe that the Chicago D (from what i have seen of it) is solid and that some of these goals are a lot softer or more stoppable than perhaps you are giving credit.

    Any validity to goalie issues in Chicago? If so, isnt it the SOP of the Hawks to go to their back-up netminder and ride him into the playoffs anyways? Is Ray going to be a starter???

    Just wondering.

    Have a good one fellas!

  • In reply to OneTeam:

    I hear ya Oneteam. And, sure, the Hawks goaltending has been less than stellar. Crow and Emery deserve a decent level of critique in their own ways, but I think most of us see other concerns as more dire. Crawford isn't exactly stealing any games, but he is far from the reason for the woes of the moment. I would blame the net presence against him before blaming his actual play. He could use some work on his rebound control though.

  • In reply to Hostile Hawk:

    Congrats One Team on the addition to the family and condolences that they will have to grow up in an era where the Wings will be as challenged as everyone else to deal with a salary cap. With the exception of the third goal Crow gave up last night, I don't believe he's let in a lot of soft ones. Many have come from pure blown coverage situations where someone was left wide wide open for a one time slam.

    I don't see Crawford as a frequent "lights out" goalie as much as a see him as a guy who is going to give you a chance to win every game if you give him some support. Actually, the Wings are quite a good example of how good your goalie needs to be when the rest of the team is taking care of business. What I most worry about with Crawford is his confidence if the team keeps letting him down.

  • "condolences that they will have to grow up in an era where the Wings will be as challenged as everyone else to deal with a salary cap."

    LOL! Thanks Vegas! As sellfish as it sounds, I dont care what future generations gets to see with the Wings. I know how lucky I was to be a fan during this time and to be able to spend half my life watching them win Cups and be a dominate team in the NHL year after year. Perhaps my future role will be to tell my children and grand children all about the golden era! Hopefully they will not respond "you mean the Dead Wings???? They were winners once??" Haha

  • In reply to OneTeam:

    As always OneTeam, all in good fun. I watched them last night against the Stars and it was the classic Wings game. Like the Borg from Star Trek, they can adapt along the way. Midway through the game Dallas started to drop into something very close to a 1-3-1 and scored a goal after pulling the Wings into overcommitting down low. It worked once and the Wings then shut the door on it.

    Something that I see in the Wings that I do not see in the Hawks is a desire to come out and play hockey every night. Trap, end to end, man on man, what ever game you want to play, they will play it. And just when you think you've played them to a draw, they come up with 1-3 third period goals and walk off the ice laughing. I don't think the Wings are headed back for the Dead Wings era, but their killers are getting older. I think they will continue to pull players off the scrap heap, but they are going to be in the same boat as everyone else of having to deal with teams like the Hawks or the Oil who draft absolute superstars with top picks.

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