Well after giving up four goals to the "offensively challenged" Islanders last Friday, the Hawks played very solid game in St. Louis and bookended that effort by giving up three goals to the "offensively challenged" Yotes on Monday night. At 93 goals, the Hawks are tied with Philly for most goals scored. After giving up 88 goals, however, they are near the top of another less then prestigious list. As for the Islanders, they went on to Dallas on Saturday and put up five goals for a win and then went back home and put up five more against the Bolts for another win. Challenged my ass. One thing that seems pretty clear is that the Islanders do not have seem to have a problem scoring against defensively challenged teams. This is a game the Hawks should win that could easily turn into a situation where they get their ass handed to them. Win or lose, we won't learn a thing we don't already know and all there will be left to do is complain about whatever errors seem most obnoxious. I've seen chatter around the net calling for trades or the firing of Q and though I agree with some of the talk, I think a more pressing matter needs to be fixed first.
Watching both recent Yotes game left me feeling pissed off. The image that comes to mind is that it made me feel like I was watching a short, sleezy salesman hit up my wife at a Christmas party with a look on his face that says, "If you don't like it, man up and make me stop cause I ain't going anywhere." It's not a pick fight challenge, but it is a relentless challenge that is just strong enough to be obvious and it's a challenge that few Blackhawks answer. Toews, to me, is becoming a victim of his compete level. Night after night, other teams will pound him and focus on him and because he is so competitive, he won't drop the gloves and say, "I've had enough of your punk ass". Worse still, nobody else on the team has been willing to do it for him either despite the fact he works his ass off every night. Since Versteeg, of all people, stepped for him after the Willie Mitchell hit, no one has shown me they had the captains back until Carcillo stepped up Saturday night. This has got to change. Every night, Toews puts his sack on the line and I can't say I feel the same about his core teammates. The last two games have shown some pushback from guys like Carcillo, Kruger and Smith, but the time has come to see it also come from Sharp, Keith, Seabrook and Hammer. It's one thing to lose board battles and position battles, but to not even be in the battle is becoming inexcusable.
The inconsistency of this team has been maddening. And yet, they also possess the ability to come out like an opened can of whoopass and make a statement. Toews will seemingly alter his game and start to take more shots or even go to the net if that is what required. When he does this and when his teammates do this, our defense magically starts to look a hell of a lot batter and the Hawks usually win. If Toews understands that this is what it takes to win and he is out there going against what Q is preaching, it's time to fire Q. For the moment, I don't believe Q and Toews are not on the same page. We all want to see a system, but I've had to ask myself, has this team ever shown an effort consistent with what teams like the Yotes, or the Preds bring every night? A system will compensate for lack of talent, but it won't compensate for lack of heart or lack of willingness to stand up for each other. A grittier D man who still has something left in the tank may help, and perhaps one bigger forward who will do what Bickell won't might help. Heck, even firing Q might cause enough shake up for complacent players to wake up. Ultimately though, I still believe so much it starts and ends with Q's best players. When his best players set the tone and outplay the other team's best players, they are going to win a lot of games.