The Sharks are starting a big 3-game stretch involving the Canucks, and Kings, following tonight's game. The Sharks are on a roll heading into this evenings scrap and quite possibly the hottest team in the NHL. Not such great news for the Hawks who are coming off a terrible 2 games, which was preceded by a few good games, preceded by another few rough ones. Can you see the pattern? The Hawks are less than consistent this year.
It might make you feel better to know that the Oil completely beat up on the Preds recently, scoring 6 against a team that rarely gives up 1. For me, it doesn't really help all that much because, I choose to believe that the Hawks can be the elite team in the West given their roster. There is no excuse for 9 goals anyway you approach it.
Sure, the Oil are playing like a team, and looking damn good doing it, but so are the Sharks right now, and so should the Hawks. The Sharks are boasting their depth these days, getting scoring from the bottom 2 lines, along with the usuall physical presence. I made loud proclamations about the Sharks being the team to beat in the West last year. Well, the Nucks beat them up pretty bad, and I am again promoting the Sharks as the biggest challenge the Hawks well face in the West this year.
This is assuming that the Hawks fix the blatant issues and finish the season right. If they don't, how good the Sharks are will not matter much. A cause for concern tonight is that SJ has fixed their earlier PK issues. Let us see how the Hawks deal with that. A cause for delight is that the Sharks are having concerns defensively in the neutral zone, an area we all know the Hawks can use to explode offensively. If SJ does not tighten up here, the Hawks should exploit it pretty easily.
Hopefully the Hawks have been taking notes on the recent surge by the Sharks. In all actuallity, they have a better record than Chicago, and they started off hurting quite a bit. What has changed for them, is that they defined some roles within each line. Our big complaint here in Chicago has also been about roles.
Carcillo and Mayers are doing what they were expected to do, maybe even more in some ways. Montador has pretty much been the aggressive defenseman-guy on D, and Leddy has been the puck mover. I personally feel like Lepisto has shown a great deal of aggressive ability, and is physically challenging to other players. He might be someone to throw more consistent ice to see how he develops.
This means no more Scott. He absolutely needs to stop being played, not at any fault of his own. His play has been decent, but his role is unable to be fullfilled. No one will get near him, and he lacks the speed to catch up. Stop this game Q, get serious and make the right moves. Could Keith's blunders be a reaction to too much ice-time?
But, what I am talking about when I say roles has more to do with just individuals doing what they were hired for. It means setting up the lines so that every guy knows exactly what do to, time and time again. Who sets the play, who is the attacking forward, who goes to the net, who digs in the corners, etc... The coaching staff is again failing to make things fit together. The talent is obviously here, but the team is not functioning at peak effeciency, or like a team for that matter. Changing lines continually means changing roles and more time needed to figure them out. This also applies to the D. It seems like they have no idea where to go when on a rush. Are you covering the left, or the right, this guy, or that guy. It is almost as if the team doesn't practice.
Also, how about showing up as if you were prepared for the game?
Even better than seeing a win tonight, would be to see a team playing like one. Hard fought, tight performance, with support and positioned players. The Hawks are kind of lucky to be sitting as pretty as they are right now. Talent has a lot to do with it. The second half of this season will require hard work. Why not start tonight?