Melancholy and the Infinite Sadness: Chicago Blackhawks earn a point.

Melancholy and the Infinite Sadness: Chicago Blackhawks earn a point.

It started off pretty bad, and then it became pretty darn good, and then we were left with a feeling of sadness. Chicago Blackhawks, why do you play us that way? Nevermind, I think I get what you were trying to show us. Last night was a hyper-real portrayal of what this season has represented in all of our hearts. You gave us all of your triumphs, all of your faults, and everything in-between within 65+ minutes of hockey. I think I finally understand.

Can someone please tell me when the Hawks are going to show up prepared for a game. I know that I have been harping on preparedness as a chief contributor for the Hawks performances this year, but never looked at the stats. The Hawks have given up the 1st goal in 2/3rds of their games this year, and last night was no different.

Before the game began, I heard Q talk about how much he focused on having a good start, and yet, within seconds of puck drop the Phoenix Yotes were off to the races and the Hawks were mere bystanders. In fact, the Yotes played some of the best hockey I have ever seen against the Hawks. They won every single board battle, controlled all of the puck possession, and it resulted in them having all of the chances. The Hawks turned the puck over, allowed odd-man rushes, didn't shoot the puck, and well, you know the drill.

Cut to the 2nd. The Hawks come out strong, but still give-up the next goal on what could be seen as a weak goal (just throwing the puck on net), but also the result of some mistakes on the Hawks part. Crawford is pulled, and I have to feel sorry for the guy, he made some big saves to keep the Hawks in the 1st, but I also saw the need to pull him. It was to get Crow out of their, it was because of his support, it was his play too, and it was meant to send a message.

The team heard that message loud and clear, especially the captain of all things serious, who now leads the league in goals, is second in points, has won more face-offs than any other player, and has been carrying the team on his back for too long. Patrick Kane now holds the league lead in assists as well, and his response last night was also felt. In fact, every single player responded better than I could have hoped for. The next 45 minutes or so were all Hawks, and it illustrated just how damn good the talent on this team is.

Time for some bullets:

  • Goal 1 by the Hawks: Kane doing his thing, Toews picking up the garbage, and a shout out to Carcillo for doing exactly the right thing, fighting in front to give Toews room to score.
  • The Hawks dominate when everybody knows their roll, and everyone is contributing.
  • Kaner was feeling so good that he brought out the amazing spin-o-pass again. I have to say, it was nice to see him wheeling and dealing again. Some time around Toews will make everything right.
  • I know how great of a player Hossa is, but the man has got to get better at cashing in on blatant chances. That empty netter that he missed in the 3rd is absolutely unacceptable.
  • The fire lit under the Hawks was astonishing, but it was best illustrated when Frolik cycled the puck along the boards to himself, avoided and took checks, held onto the puck and eventually caused a huge scoring chance and a resulting power-play that produced the 2nd goal. Even more exciting, Hjalmer who has exploded as of late, joined the play deep, took the pass from Frolik and got the puck to the net. Huge, huge, huge play in all respects. Smith battled in front, getting the chance and creating the PP.
  • You have to love Hawks hockey when they get their shit together.
  • Mayers gets a shout for doing battle and assuring the Hawks intensity would continue.
  • Toews would again show us how elite he is by over powering his man and building a 2-on-1 that Kane would finish.
  • Leddy and Hjalmer are the best defensive pair on the team right now and need to be used accordingly, just a thought.
  • Emery was brilliant in relief of Crow, regardless of how bad he would eventually get beaten in the shoot-out.

Everything about the last 40 or so minutes of play, including overtime was pure brilliance from the Hawks perspective, with the exception of not winning the game outright. Hossa and then Stalberg had each of their own chances that should have been the game winners. This was the Hawks game to win in the 3rd, and in OT and they couldn't finish it off. It leaves me with a sense of melancholy. Even when the Yotes tried to regain some of the control, the Hawks responded with answers, but never with the finishing touch.

The shoot-out was a terrible thing to watch, and I hope that we can feel safe about not ever seeing Hossa in that spot again, especially when the game is all of a sudden on the line. Like I said, the man is one of the best and hardest players in the league, but his offensive IQ is less than average.

All in all a point on the eve of a new conference setting. I guess I'll take it. Not so sure what to make of the "radical" changes we will see next year with how the league is divided up, but am willing to get to know it.

Comments

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  • Is it just me or do our guys seem to lose an edge more often than most. What is up with the guy doing the skates or does Montador and Seabrook beat their blades off concrete ? What is it two or three goals in the last two games because of defenseman falling ?

    Eighteen times we have given up the first goal. The question this season seems to be can we dig ourselves out of this hole, again ?

    There seems to be a disconnect between coach and players. It is becoming like watching the Capitals. So much talent and so much indifference at points in a game. I think we will see a trade or a coaching change before too long. Remember how fast Savard got shown the door at the start of 2010.

    The shoot out was very sad. We couldn't score or stop the puck.

    I agree, HH. Toews and a few others are going to get very sore backs carrying this team around.

  • " the man is one of the best and hardest players in the league, but his offensive IQ is less than average." This is perhaps the most well-put statement of the year regarding Hossa, HH!

    I missed most of the game last night so I can't comment . I do like the new alignment idea though... especially that each team in the league will play each other at least twice. The only part I don't like is potentially going back to the 4-conference playoff format. I think the 2-conference format of late is much more fair.

  • For me, it is painful to watch Hjalmarsson out there. As much as I appreciate him willing to block a shot, there is nothing else that impresses me about him. More often that not he gets planted on his ass and the puck stolen. He is scared to take a hit and would rather hit the puck blindly and turn it over than take the hit to make a play. In the offensive zone, he can't even come close to putting a shot on net. He played alot with Campbell last year and I think Campbell made him look alot better than he is. Seabrook has been playing the same way this year. He has not been able to put many shots on net. I still think the loss of Campbell is a major reason for our problems on special teams. Campbell has more assists and points on the power play than any defensive in the NHL right now and is a huge reason that Florida is playing so well. With that being said, I still agree the Hawks did the right thing by trading him to free up cap space. But, I think we are seeing that Hjalmarsson was overrated and Campbell made him look better than he is. With Seabrook struggling right now, Hjalmarsson playing horrible as always, Leddy being inexperienced, our D is horrible and needs to be upgraded.

  • In reply to BigJack:

    I would say that last year was Hjalmer's worst as a Hawk. I have heard the reasoning that Campbell is a major contributor in the recent defensive concerns, and although the stats seem to support it, I just can't get behind it as the reason.

    This will most likely catch me a lot of crap for saying, but I think Leddy is better to have on the ice. I don't think Leddy is as talented yet, but he is a smarter defensemen, much more agressive, is willing to take the hits, and never puts his linemates in a bad situation. Plus, he has the puck moving skills, although not quite like Campbell.

    Campbell made many mistakes, and cost Hjalmer a ton of hits last year, which is more to blame for his recent woes if there are even any. I think many people miss what Hjalmer actually does, and his impact on the team is huge. He does the little and simple things which pay dividens in a hockey game, and I also see him starting to get really comfortable with Leddy. Ask Hjalmer who he prefers playing with and I think the answer is quick.

    I agree with you about the D, but point the finger at coaching there, rather than at individual play. Seabs and Keith are still struggling a bit, and that hurts, and why not get a few more looks at Lepisto, but overall, coaching has them out of position and ruining the play.

  • In reply to Hostile Hawk:

    I really don't think coaching is the reason our D is out of play. Too many times I see both d-men behind the net going for the puck and leaving the front of the net wide open. Most people learn this at a young age that you do not do this. I'm sure they have been coached not to do this since they were 7-8 years of age. A lack of communication is the reason why players do this on the ice. I'm not sure if it is because we have new defensmen who are playing a first year together, or it is players who do not possess "hockey smarts". But, I am certain that it is not Q's coaching that is getting them out of position because they have been learning this basic positioning since in-house hockey leagues.

    Campbell has always been one of the best offensive defensmen in the league-that is why we overpaid for him. He still is this year. One of the best things he was able to do was skating the puck out of our zone and dump it deep into the offensive zone. We have been lacking that. I still believe it is way too early to make a decision on Leddy, but he can be steady player. But, he is not Brian Campbell.

    On another note of bad hockey positionning, Frolik was out of position numerous times last game. This directly led to at least one goal that I can remember as the Coyotes moved the puck around and Frolik was caught way out of position.

    I think that it is easy to blame Q (and I am not saying that he is without any blame), but this is basic hockey that these players have been taught since they were little kids. Play your position and quit chasing the puck. Maybe we have some low hockey IQ's on the team as role players.

  • In reply to BigJack:

    This honestly might be one of the best and most important conversations to have about the Hawks at present time. I really do see where you are coming from BJ, just take a different angle.

    Campbell's production in Florida is great evidence for those in your corner. I can only point to specific game play by him, and the result of what Hjalmer had to do in response. I never thought Campbell was playing to his best as a Hawk though, and that comes through some channels of people who know him.

    Your right, players absolutely learn this at a very young age, and to make it this far in the game requires an elite understanding of the game. So, we should assume that each player knows what we are talking about. Then, we have to ask why we keep seeing it. What is going on in practice to dissrupt what they already know they should be doing?

    Part of it is in how the forwards are playing their roles with the D in their own zone, and that comes from a system of movement designed by coaching.

  • A big problem I see for Leddy, Hammer and Keith is their complete lack of physicality in front of our own net. They rarely even tie up opposing sticks, let alone try to body guys out of there. The Yotes' 3rd goal was a screen job that Leddy watched with detachment which seemed to say "the active stick isn't working here". If they want to help Crawford get untracked, clear out the front of the net.

    But the last 45 minutes were beautiful. What action.

  • Neither team deserved to to win this game. Seriously. Scoring 3 goals on any given night should be enough for either team to win. This showed the best and worst of both teams. The Yotes are borderline truculent, constantly annoying and unwavering in doing what they do from start to finish. When a team does not want to the play the Yotes style, they will often lose. But the Yotes have their blindspot too. They can only beat a skill team that doesn't want to work, and that team was the Hawks for 20 minutes. And then they gave up three goals in one period. For the Yotes, that's a meltdown.

    The first period, in my eyes, is a lot more about the players then the coaching staff. A lot of these guys want to play a "skill" game. I tend to believe something was said by somebody between periods because the difference was night and day. Less bullshit, plenty more shots, guys to the net, etc. What I liked was Carcillo, Smith and Kruger constantly doing physical, annoying things and Kruger was perhaps the only player willing to skate in after a whistle to get in the grill of some douchebag in the crease. The Yotes are disrupters and bottom feeders. They stand in your crease after whistles, they keep hitting and annoying without picking fights. And they wear you down and capitalize on mistakes. It's not rocket science.

    I found it interesting that Toews bags the first one with Carcillo as the other wing. This may be a stretch, but I think it highlights something. Even when Toews is working his ass off, he can be "managed" by other teams. If they want to keep checking and hitting and battling for the puck, he will do so, often to the point of playing himself right out of a chance to score. Carcillo, by doing nothing really but getting in the way gave Toews an option and he buried it. Optimistically, guys like Kruger, Smith and Carcillo are frequently noticeable when the Hawks win. Not so much for skill, but for creating opportunity and for bringing some pushback.

    I dunno, this is not something to bank on, but games like this and St. Louis show that this team DOES have an extra notch to reach for when they want something.

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