Let us all begin the game of pointing fingers at the reasons for the Blackhawks woes as of late. We have identified a great many things on this blog in recent weeks and even long before that. So, are the issues today really any different from a year ago, or maybe even from before the Cup was hoisted in Chicago?
I tend to lean towards the issues having been around for quite a while. Even when the Hawks were bulldozing through teams 2 years ago, I saw issues that, with a less talented roster would be a recipe for death.
Most definitely, the issues of last year (from a roster perspective) were focused on and mostly dealt with over the summer. The addition of a few names have been well received by the fan base. Some other names however, have now become the focus of a lot of finger pointing. So, without further adieu, I will get to that pointing.
- Stalberg has been the focus of many fan's anger. I am seeing it all over the blogosphere, and I have no idea where it is coming from at this point in time. Now I might just be one of the bigger supporters of his camp, but I acknowledge that. I am obviously mesmerized by his speed and handsome good looks. But seriously, this guy is extremely cheap for a player who can generate offense the way he does. On top of that, he has been playing much better this season with some regular shifts and better linemates. Given more time, I anticipate more progression.
- If you want to point the finger at a handsome, good-looking player, how about Sharpy? While his stats are not terrible, I have expected much more out of this newly signed (to a very large contract) player. Especially given his time on the power-play and playing with Toews who makes everyone look better. Sharp has looked a few steps behind where is speed should be, and I have missed the aggressiveness which he has played with in the past.
- Bickell is a very obvious place for finger pointing. Looking uninvolved for the majority of time on the ice and showcasing some terrible numbers. His whole line is suffering in the +/- category and I think he has something to with that. No one with this size should go a game without a hit.
- While Brunette has done some of what we expected to see this year, I just don't think he is producing enough. His better years are most definitely behind him, and he just might be too slow to keep up with the fast skaters he has been paired with.
- Montador is obviously on my list of players who piss me off. He is the reason for no Campoli (yes i blame him, and him alone), and he has done nothing to support his contract. Last night was just a blatant example of his performance thus far.
- Goaltending is at least worth a pinky finger. Though they are not the immediate cause for concern, they sure haven't wowed anyone either. Crow has been solid at times, but also shaky for more minutes than I feel safe about. By far not the reason for last night's loss, but he does have a hand in it.
Honestly, I don't want to point the finger at any one player. Bickell better get his act together though. My greater issues stem to before some of these player's time. This coaching staff is showing a great inability to use the right players in the right places and times, and that has a huge bearing on the overall performance. It is hard for a player to use his special skills when constantly being moved around, or unsure of the expectations.
Point and case: Hossa and Kane are both puck possession players. They essentially fill the same role offensively. Though their production has been decent so far, I think it has more to do with their skill than anything else. Would the team benefit more from their separation?
Another point and case: When Toews was joined by Mayers and Stalberg last night, we saw a line formed of a puck mover/possession guy (Toews), a grinding/get in front of the net kind of player (Mayers), and a quick/perimeter player in Stalberg. There is no question of what any of these guys was supposed to do on this line and it payed off. They generated the best chances of the night in only a couple shifts together.
I could go on and on here, but I think you all get my drift. The most important finger is not to be pointed at any of the players. I caught a little bit of shit for my critique on Q in the off-season from some readers. If you are still reading, now do you get what I was talking about? This team is beyond being far too talented for these pathetic performances on the ice. Something needs to change and players need to feel like they are part of a system which will carry them when their talent falls short.