Blackhawks v Canucks, what the heck was that?

Blackhawks v Canucks, what the heck was that?

If you are going to give up 5 Power-play goals and not score any of your own, you are going to lose by a lot no matter what else you do on the ice. Not that it matteres for the Hawks, they didn't really do anything 5-on-5 either, which added up to a disgusting excuse for a hockey game if you are a Hawks fan. 6-2 is how this game was finished, which hurts just thinking about it. It started bad and ended bad, just a hard game to watch no matter how you spin it.

I was really excited for this game. The always interesting rivalry between these 2 teams. The Hawks just came off of a tough loss, the Canucks are struggling coming in, and Luongo is struggling the most. I anticipated good things with a big win ripe for the taking. I could not have been more wrong.

This is my opinion on the 1st period which pretty much set the tone for the game. We all know the history between these 2 teams right. Well, the Hawks added some grit to the roster over the summer. I think they got a little too excited to show that grit off tonight. They seemed more focused on getting under the Nuck's skin through physical play, rather than by scoring goals which was the recipe for success in the past. The result was that these rivals switched roles based on what we have seen in prior match-ups. Essentially, the Hawks were playing hockey like the Canucks we all expect to see, which lead to a ton of Power-Plays for Vancouver and a ton of goals behind them.

The Hawks played pretty bad at even strength, but they sure as heck stunk it up during special teams play. The Canucks controlled every aspect of this game. I can't even recall a moment when the Hawks won a small battle. They dug a hole early and the frustration blinded them from then on. Sure, the shaky play of Luongo almost provided a ray of light, but the Hawks couldn't take full advantage of the many rebounds laid out by the weak-minded goaltender. The 1st period ended up tied thanks to a weak Frolik goal which was very lucky on the Hawks part getting outshot 17-9 after 20 minutes of play.

The Hawks were given more than a couple of chances to bounce back into this game and they took a dump over each and every one of them. Anytime it looked like the Hawks still had hope, they just through the game back to Vancouver. Timely power-plays of their own were wasted away. It was the same old story, bad entrance into the zone, and terrible set-up. They are continually trying to force that back-door play which everyone knows is coming, ignoring the wide open pointman ready and waiting for a one-timer blast. Where is the coaching staff in this game early? Notice this, point it out, make changes and get your team in line.

Another thing I noticed about the overall aspect of the game is that there have been 2 games that Kaner has not played great hockey and they are the 2 games that the Hawks stunk up the ice. They also happen to be the 2 games where the Hawks could not deliver a big hit. The Canucks were dishing up plenty of them, but the Hawk's big boys could not dish it back. Every retaliation to a hit was dirty play and I am having troubles figuring out where this came from. Undisciplined is the word that comes to mind.

Worth mentioning is the play by Hossa early in the game. He and Toews seemed determined to ignite their team. These efforts were completely lost by the second half of play.

I could go into more detail here, but I feel like frustrated (bad) penalties, a horrible performance by special teams added to that, and a lack of any worthy physical presence says it all.  Carcillo had his first fight as a Hawk (he was eventually ejected from the game), Mayers had a bought with Bieksa, but just like any of the other battles by the Hawks in this one, Mayers went down after Bieksa got the last shot.

Wanting to forget about it, lets wrap this thing up. What I see is a blatant example of some of the issues mentioned on this blog coming to fruition. Traffic in front of Luo was missing. Kruger's goal was an example of what crashing the net can do. Likewise, Brunette missed a giant opportunity to do the same after a Toews drive to the net, instead choosing to go wide for god knows why Brunette blew any chance at scoring. They failed to take advantage of quick passes and quick shots. Leddy had a huge goal on his stick, but he gave Luongo time to set up for the big save after a beautiful pass from Toews. And above all, sounding like a broken record, bad defensive communication and out of position players in the their own zone allowed for Crow to be hung out to dry.

Seabrook and Hjalmer had especially rough games, but most of this was during the PK. One play that jumps out of my mind was the goal when Bickell ran into Crawford, taking him out, and not one single defensemen took the Nuck standing all alone in front. The result, an empty netter for the bad-guys.

Trying to end on a good note, there was one play where I got excited on the Hawks PP. It was in the 3rd, Kaner had the puck along the boards and had options. He chose to throw the puck on net with the obvious intent of someone grabbing the rebound (which Luongo provided as to his previous actions). I was shocked to see this intent from Kane who rarely takes that approach. It could be the sign of changes on the PP, but unfortunately for this play, Toews was actually out numbered (on the PP?) in front and could not grab the rebound.

The Hawks have mentioned that their goal for this season is to not lose 3 in a row. They face another struggling team on Tuesday when they play the Blues who will be showcasing their new coach. Here's to the Hawks keeping that goal alive. For this night, let us use that "Men in Black" mind eraser thing.

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  • There's not much in between when these two teams play. Either it's tight from start to finish, or one team is getting it's ass kicked. At some point this year, the Hawks are likely to dish out a similar beating to the Nucks, but to some degree that's immaterial. One thing that won't change is that these two teams hate each other and every game will be about trying to get in each others heads and unless the Hawks come ready to do nothing buy play hockey, they will lose that battle every time.

    I'm going to say something crazy, I think it's time to put Carcillo back on Kane's line with Hossa, put Sharp back with Toews, and drop a broken hockey stick between Stalberg and Brunette and let them battle to the death to decide who stays. At this point, the league is wise to what the Hawks are about; they want to cycle, they want to puck control and they want to play tic-tac-toe when they enter the zone or they want to hit a cherry pick pass up ice. You nailed it on the PP, every team knows exactly what they are going do.

    With lines of say, Sharp/Toews/Brunette, Hossa/Kane/Carcillo and Frolik/Bolland/Bickell, you have the possibility on every line of having a grinder, a shooter or playmaker, and a tenacious or big body to go to the net. Luongo, tonight, was beatable. But except for Kruger, the Hawks did not want to go to where they could beat him. The response will be more important to me then what happened tonight. Every team gets their face rubbed in it a few times every year. Vancouver was overdue to do it to someone else.

  • Another thing before I stop ranting, I feel like one of the biggest issues for this team that has not changed from last year is that they are very slow to adapt and are very stubborn when it comes to trying to force something that isn't working. I think a lot of teams trap and hit them because it works. Surprisingly, I thought they did well in Tampa Bay even though they lost. From start to finish, they were ready to play the game they knew the Bolts would come with, and to the very last shift of regulation, they dumped and chased and were in that game.

    With all the shit the Nucks have gone through from the cup to the start of the season, it's inexcusable they looked unready for the intensity the Nucks brought. And BTW, is it just me, or does it look like 80% of the goals given up lately are from blown coverage to Crawford's right side? Whether it's power play or even strength, it just seems like something in the Hawks D coverage keeps letting that Happen.

    Final final gripe, at what point does it have be asked if it's time to replace the special teams coach? Not one new wrinkle has appeared in the Hawks power play this year. The PK sucked just as bad tonight, but so did everything. While I do think the PK will look better next game, I don't have that confidence about the PP.

  • Oh my. How painful was that to watch ? No intensity combined with the ongoing infatuation with highlight reel goals is getting tiresome. It reminds me of the love affair the Hawks had with the monster break out passes two years ago. If that was shut down, they could not adapt. Forwards would not come back to shorten the clearing pass. We won the Cup with a quality of third and fourth line guys we will never see again. That and a certain large fellow who lived in front of the net. Remember that Joel ? You had a player who went to the front of the net and freaking stayed there.

    Ignore the missing Kieth as the Nucks were down Salo and Burroughs.

    Completely agree on re-uniting Carcillo with Hossa and Kane. If a line doesn't have a grinding, go to the net guy, it ends up on the perimeter. Not a lot of goals out there against good teams.

    It puzzles me that the PP is so predictable. Does Quenneville hate change or is he that stubborn.

    Out coached and out played, we got whupped. Wakey, wakey.

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