Two Days Til Good Food

Well, not for the Hawks but for me. On Thursday I will hang up the shorts for a few days and head back to Chicago for a lot of eating and my first game at the UC since leaving in May of 10. But, most of you reading undoubtedly are not interested in my travel plans, so how bout some other stuff.

The Hawks of course are back home tonight for their first game back from the circus trip and their second game of four total they will play against the Yotes this year. Record wise, these teams look very similar. The Hawks have played two more games and have two more wins, but the rest is nearly identical; same number of losses, ties, goal differential and nearly identical record over the last ten games. And while the Hawks are nearly 500 away from the UC, they did themselves and early favor and racked up a 7-1-2 record on shitty home ice(really, the ice there has looked shitty). Per the preview on the Hawks site, the Yotes have been doing very well in games after a loss with a record of 8-1. Luckily for us, maybe, they won their last game.

Despite the ass kickings in Alberta, the Hawks have shown early on this year that they can win some gritty games. Not pretty, but good enough to take two points. Arguably, I think things started to turn around in SJ and even though the Ducks contest was a ridiculous affair, they did some good things there as well that they built on in LA. That was a close game, and perhaps they were lucky to finish the game before LA could ramp their game up enough to steal it. Still, luck or not, the Hawks played a good game and did many of the things we constantly bitch about them not doing. They had net presence, they cleaned up pucks quicker in front of Crawford, and the forwards relentlessly forechecked and helped the D clear the puck. That is precisely the game that Phoenix plays, with one exception, they will not take ANY shit in their crease.

Forcefully, the Yotes protect the house. Even strength, PK, whatever, they will stand in front of their crease and protect it and they will stiff arm anyone within reach after the whistle. Generally, this is not a setup the Hawks will challenge. Having said that, with some new found success there, one can only hope Bruno or Carbomb will take the heat to get there. I still have my doubts on Stals willingness to stand up to in your face players, but maybe things are starting to change for him. I'm not making any bold predictions here or talking shit about the Yotes, but this is a team the Hawks can beat. If they bring what they brought to LA and put in that kind of effort, I think they will beat this team. As of now, I haven't seen any injury stuff, so I expect a pretty healthy home team. As for the Yotes, meh, they are kind of like the borg and every player who goes there becomes assimilated into the collective. Take down one, another grows in it's place. Starting with tomorrow's game, the Hawks will have a home heavy schedule through the rest of the years and only play four games on the road in that time frame. Here's hoping the home success for them continues.

Anyone have any thoughts on Boudreau getting sacked?

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  • I am excited about coming home for 10 out of the next 14 games. After playing more road games so far than any other team in the Western Conference and to still be sitting at the top looking down, the Hawks are sitting good right now. It looks like everybody is healthy right now, so we should be primed for a little run. The first game may be tough on the guys, but we shall see.

    As far as the firing of Boudreau, I have mixed feelings. I think most of the blame in Washington goes to the players, not him. Ovie is not producing, Mike Green has only played in 8 games this year, and Hamrlik has been a huge disappointment. He currently sits at -10. They knew that their goaltending was going to be shaky this year, and it has been. This kind of move can pay off as bringing in a new coach usually wakes the team up. Especially somebody that is well respected like Dale Hunter. Time will only tell if this was a smart move.

    On a side note, Rostislav Olesz has been on a terror since getting waived and assigned to the Icehogs. He had 8 points in his first 4 games here. The addition of Olesz has opened up Pirri who has been taking advantage and playing his best hockey of the year.

  • Vegas,
    I'm interested in your travel plans. I happen to be coming down there on Friday, to run in the marathon on Sunday. Staying at the MGM Signature. Any great restaurants off the beaten path? Ecclectic/organic?

    On Boudreau. Well, you could see it coming. The players are running that team and they won't be able to do that with Hunter. The team tuned him out I think, and, if I'm honest, I think that about the 'hawks and Q oft times too.

    Boudreau and Maurice are more of the old guard falling out of favor with the gms around the league. The trend is to look to younger coaches and fresher approaches to the game and the bench. Coaches have a shelf life, especially if the roster stays pretty much intact from year to year. Boudreau just ran the course with what he had to offer and he couldn't get over the hump in the playoffs. (As a teacher, I know that if I had the same students year after year I'd sure lose some lustre. Fortunately, I get new students every second year and it keeps me invigorated/inspired and them as well —I hope) .

    Q ran his course in St. Louis and Colorado and in my opinion is on the cusp of the same tragedy here. Were it not for Toews hoisting this team on his back last week there would be much more discussion about that in the hockey realms I think. Toews won't let that happen though.

    As for the 'hawks play, I'm surprised there's been so little mentioned about the goaltending here. It looks to me that both Crawford and Emery are overplaying the puck way too much. Sure they're big and block a lot of the twine when they're down—I get that—but they are often out of position when goals are scored.

  • Well, after getting my ass kicked by a throat infection, I am back and ready to talk Hawks Hockey. I missed the opportunity to do a filler piece on Toews in past 2 days, so I want to sum it up in a sentence now: Toews has been one of the top 5 players in the NHL since season's start and the Hawks are lucky to have him.

    On the standings subject, I think the Hawks are very fortunate to be standing at the top looking down, especially after playing more road games. When the Hawks wrapped up their game in L.A, they had played 2 more games than a lot of teams who could catch and pass them in the standing. Well, after 2 nights of no hockey, they still sit at top.

    Quick statement on Olesz. I feel like he was signed only to be used as trade material later on. No way they give up on a guy with that much promise and a contract that big so easily if they really wanted him to be a Hawk. His recent move to Rockford means that the Hawks are shopping, and I hear it is for a defenseman. Dallas has apparently shown some interest in Iginla.

    On Boudreau, I am surprised it took so long. Watch the Caps turn things around now. Fourfeather pretty much summed up my feelings on that. Couldn't have said it better, "were it not for Toews hoisting this team on his back last week there would be more discussion," here. While the Hawks played well at times in L.A and against the Ducks, they also got lucky. The Hawks have only been relying on their overwhelming talent to get that extra goal, and not on their overall team play. We saw good things against the Kings, but they can't be a team that only plays defense, hoping the other team won't find a hole. We need to see that stay at home play, combined with the flow of their quick offense.

    The reason I have not mentioned goaltending is due to the Hawks overall play. Yes, it has looked weak at times, and yes they are overplaying the puck which is weird from Crow, but all in all, it has been the defense that has lost games, or almost lost them.

    Tonight, I will be looking for Kane to get his groove back, and the team to play smart hockey at all times and as a whole unit. Smart defense with the quick transition game. They seem to be a team that can win or loose games in the neutral zone. This must be where they find their niche, put a formula together and start taking it to other teams.

  • FF, sent you an email about the eats. I think it was probably inevitable that Boudreau got shown the door, but I'm in more of a wait and see mode for them turning things around. They have an enormously talented team and if they quit because the didn't like the coach, that doesn't speak well for their character. The Bolts last year were hot and nearly made the finals after shutting down two very offensive teams prior to playing Boston.

    What impressed me about Boudreau was that he was able to go from letting the team win games by outscoring opponents to winning games with a more defensive mindset. Just looking at the Hawks, it's clear there are a lot of teams in the NHL that are not particularly excited about going out every night and playing with a defense first mindset. The trend though has been to bring in new thinking and phase out the old school guys. Even Hitchcock recently said that in his time off, he spent a lot of time looking at film and rethinking his approach to coaching.

    If the Capitals do start to really turn things around, I can only imagine the discussions around Chicago if the Hawks are not playing as dominant as people think they should.

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