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?