Flyers 5, Hawks 4. Hey Pat, Edzo, Troy, John and Blackhawks website, you can all stop reminiscing now

From start to finish, this was a lot of end to end hockey which, in theory, should have benefited the Hawks. Maybe it's time for a new theory. Though the Hawks frequently controlled the puck and cycled it, especially at the start of the second period, they just didn't get the kind of net presence and forced defensive errors that the Flyers did. I suppose we could go down our usual list of complaints, but I'm not up for it. In the end, it was primarily blown defensive coverage that cost the Hawks this game. Emery was not what I would call solid with his rebounds, but he faced basically an extra period worth of rubber compared to Universe and still managed to come away with a better save %.

Leddy and Hossa tonight each had their hand in a bad goal. At the end of the first period, Leddy had a chance to just chip a puck out of the zone and instead played fuck around with it, got stripped right at the blue line and on the ensuing cycle, the Flyers scored. Later in the period, Hossa completely let Harry Zlongname skate away from him and grab a puck completely unmolested and he caught Razor going left to right. Considering the rarity this is for Hossa, it's not something I worry about going forward. As for Leddy and Hammer though, they finished the night a -2 each and Leddy is now in minus territory for the year. Despite being a fast game, the Flyers kept up a solid forecheck and defensively they pushed the Hawks to the outside quite a bit. Puck control is great, but sooner or later you need to get it to the net. In the end, the Hawks were outshot 46-34. Defensive breakdowns indeed.

On the plus side for the Hawks, I thought the kids had a nice game. Hayes and Shaw each netted a goal and Olsen, I thought, made some nice plays. He's got a lot to learn. but he's also got some nice things to work with. Maybe someday he will turn out to be what you would expect if an evil scientist spliced Scott and Lepisto together.
On Shaws goal, he grabbed the puck from behind the net, deked around the D and put up a backhand that Universe was not in position to absorb. As for Hayes, he set up a real nice give an go with Mayers and did exactly what all of us bitch about other players not doing. He hit the zone, went for the net and had his stick on the ice in perfect position to redirect Mayers pass. And for what it's worth, the fourth line tonight of Mayers, Hayes and Frolik was the best line on the ice all night. To end the game though, karma proved to be a bitch. In what had to be a cathartic moment for the the Flyers and their fans, Kane got whistled for a high stick with about a minute and half to go. With just thirty seconds left, JVR, the consolation prize the Flyers got when they lost the Kane raffle, netted what turned out to be the game winner. And of course, it was another blown coverage deal.

With two losses in a row, the Hawks are second in the conference and it's only a matter of time before the Wings and the Blues each get some time in first in the division. With that inevitability approaching, what I really want to see is the Hawks start to get their shit together to finish the season strong. I'm not giddy about this, but Hayes, Shaw and Olsen each had a pretty decent game. It's way too early to start predicting they will all stay, but each dished out some hits, got near the net and were relevant. That's a nice start and I'll just leave it at that for the next five to ten games if all or any are still with the team. Ultimately, I still believe SB needs to pull the trigger on a trade or possibly two and though it may pain some of the people who call into sports talk radio to hear this, we are not going to get star players in return for John Scott and Bryan Bickell. On the plus side tonight, the PK was much better and they even scored a shorty. I'm not happy about this loss, but the time seems to be ripe for SB to get to work and help this team transition. Good as the core can be, this game tonight showed what they need to deal with if they expect to win out east.

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  • I thought Shaw was absolutely great in his first NHL game. 4 hits! and the guy is under 6 foot. He played well beyond his size, and scored a beutiful goal, which was cause by a Toews takeaway. The defensive pressure of Toews was strong throughout the whole game.

    Hayes was also brilliant. The younger, newbies showed the big guys what a little determination and hardwork can do.

    And then there was defensive coverage. Yes, a common complaint on this blog, but it seems that the coaching staff just doesn't get it.

    My focus and finger are pointed at positioning with regards to the center. Almost all the goals, and so many others this year are from missed coverage in the slot. This is where the center comes in, and can we all agree that Kane is not a center.

    The Hossa misshap seemed like a mistake in which he assumed the center of his line would cover his position. Kane was again, the last forward into the zone, and since Hossa had recently been playing with Toews (who covers his area of the ice), Hossa's instant of second-guessing allowed a goal.

    Not only is Kane not a center, the constant changing of line combos has to be considered a prime factor in what we are constently noticing. How this has not been addressed by any of the commentators baffles me.

  • In reply to Hostile Hawk:

    Hits were actually pretty even, 24-22 and I agree the kids brought some spark. They did have great games, but I just don't want to get too far ahead of myself. Looking at Ben Smith and now Kruger, I'm starting to see a pattern develop wherein Hawks rookies get concussed for playing aggressive. I believe players on other teams really don't have much fear of retaliation from the rest of the Hawks. John Scott will fight and pummel most, but his presence is not a deterrent.

    Kane may have been the last forward to come back, but he had to dodge Stalberg on his way in to try and pick up that guy. Stals and Hossa both were a -2 last night. Stalberg was about five feet away when Zlongname broke away from Hossa. Here is a beef I have with the coaching and the line juggling. In addition to finding a system, you need to put players where they will best succeed. I like the size, speed and hands of Stalberg, but I feel like he is the odd man trying to be the skill guy when he is up top. Toews and Hossa are board beasts, Kane and Sharp are playmakers and I personally believe that third guy needs to be the one who crashes the net and helps keep an eye out for cherry pickers. Shaw was actually really good at that last night as was Hayes on the goal he scored.

    Without a human bowling ball as the other wing, I have to agree that Kane as center with Hossa is not the best idea. When he kept his shit straight, Carbomb was that bowling ball. Until he got elbowed by Detroit Smith, Ben Smith was that bowling ball. If Shaw picks up that role on the first or second line, I think he will do very well, at least until some douchebag decides they've had enough of his rookie aggression and takes a run at him.

  • V,

    No mention of Mr. Norris falling asleep on the Van Reimsdyk goal at the end of the game?

    BW

  • In reply to beaverwarrior:

    You're right, I didn't call him out by name, but that was the blown coverage I was talking about. I watched that goal again a couple more times and it looks like he got caught up in watching Hartnell who was in between Seabrook and the net. As Keith was skating backwards, it looks like all he has to do is take a glance to his left and he would see JVR. Emery had the angle pretty well played on Hartnell, but if he busts a move and tries to go across the crease, Keith is probably the only guy that could play him. I can see how Keith gets sucked into that, but it's still blown coverage.

  • Not too dismayed by the loss last night. I was calm throughout as I held little hope from the outset. Philly, Rangers, Bruins, Canucks, and Sharks, no way the 'hawks beat any of those teams in a series as presently constituted. Not a chance.

    I know it's easy to say SB should be out there burning the bandwidth trying to secure a deal that's going to put this team over the top, and I'm sure he is, and eventually will, but for now, it is what it is, and, that's one flawed hockey team we watched last night. With the injuries, most notably the injury to Kruger—who'd of thunk—those flaws are being magnified and a good team will certainly exploit them.

    The Good:
    Contrary to some here, I thought Emery played a solid game. No blame can be put on him for this loss. What chance did he have on any of the five three footers the Flyers scored? 46 shots c'mon!

    The new kids played with some spark and it was a pleasure to watch them burn the adrenalin. They're still young and if things were more rounded for this team in terms of depth they would not be sticking around. Still, I thought they played inspired hockey, with some heart and as long as they play that way they have a chance to stick. I'm even ready to say that one of Shaw or Hayes will supplant Bickell and or Stalberg at some point when the injuries and roster in general settles down.

    The fourth line was the best on the ice last night because it was the only one that was kept together throughout the game. Imagine.

    The Bad:
    Ok, Vegas and I have determined that the 'hawks are a puck possession quick transition team. That's their system. They play keep away. Since no one else chimed in, we'll go with that for now. The question then becomes—after that debacle last night—what is their system when the bullies take away that puck and they're not allowed to have their way? Any takers here?

    I'm going back to coaching. It doesn't matter what system it is, this team has absolutely no clue—in practice—as to what to do without the puck. No dedication. commitment, doscipline to play without the puck. It's time to reel in the offense and start playing more responsible D as a team.They stand around like pylons waving their sticks frenetically while the opposition casually strolls into the redzone and pounces on anything black and round. This little black and round disc has a powerful mesmerizing effect on the 'hawks to the exclusion of all else. They know they need it back, because coach wants them to play their system, but that's just it, isn't it? Coach tells them to play with their sticks not their brains or bodies and we get what we saw last night.
    Sure it's on the players to execute, but when your roles are changing every game if not every shift what the hell are they supposed to do. Their play recently is as helter skelter as the line juggling is.

    I'm all for bringing back PIrri to pivot the second or third line until Kruger is ready to go. The Kane experiment should be over now and Bickell should be parked forever. Stalberg is another one who has reverted to his old ways ever since he was—curiously enough—removed from the line with Bolland. Bolland does not get a pass from me either, but evidently he does from our "players" coach who seems to think the world of him.

    The Ugly:
    Their play of late. Aside from the Detroit game this is now 4 losses in 7 games. Two of the three victories were against Columbus where the score was not indicative of the play, and against Montreal who hadn't won in however many games when they came to town and had just lost a head coach. That's a long-winded way to say that this team is in a slump right now and it happens to coincide with a few injuries to key players. We knew the time would come when 19, 88, 81 and 10 would cool off and that time, except for Toews, is here. Nice to see a fourth line goal last night but there are too many passengers on this roster for the stars to hoist on their backs. Something's gotta give. There needs to be some accountability here. Why do these guys keep playing? Someone has to send a message. This isn't squirt hockey guys and encouragement only goes so far. Sit 'em and bring in some 'hogs with a little fire in their bellies.

    I'll be parked in front of my HDTV tonight watching with interest. This is going to be a tough game for the 'hawks. The AVs are, IMO, the only team that can outskate the 'hawks and they are not afraid to go where no 'hawk player wants to go to establish some net presence …

  • In reply to fourfeather:

    I had to laugh at your description of the system, that sums it up. With a balanced lineup, they could pull off that game plan against most teams. Now, I think teams will let them have that cycle in the corner and the only time they are dangerous is when they can confuse enough guys to follow the shell game while they pass to a point man. However, said point man still needs to pull the one timer and it's not like this team is known for its one timers.

    If we need a new coach to tell these guys what to do without the biscuit, and I'm conceding that we might, then I also think it's probably time to reconsider which players are truly untouchable. With the pile of talent they have now though, what system would work for them? I look at the team as constructed and see a hodge podge of skill and experience that doesnt seem to fit as well together now as it did two years ago.

    I'm not optimistic about tonight.

  • In reply to fourfeather:

    I agree with everything you just laid down FF, with the exception of how you feel about Stalberg. He is on course to break 20 goals and he isn't paid didly squat. Add in to his new found ability to hit, his usual back-checking speed and I see a very helpful addition to the team.

    What he is not good at is being switched around from line to line. He seems to need consistency in his role. It settles him down a bit.

    Now, Carcillo I am done with. He is now injured for pulling the dirtiest of dirty, rightfully suspended (I thought he deserved double digits) and I just don't think we need a guy around who would make a hit like that.

    I also feel like Toews is getting way too over worked by Q. It could have some terrible consequences. Maybe if we had another center.

  • In reply to Hostile Hawk:

    HH, how about a redo?

    Hawks at 41, the madness on west madison.

    Enough is enough already.

    Q is singlehandedly f'ing up this team big time. He's messin' with their heads. If I pulled these stunts on my students out be out on my ass so fast … The guy is a crackerjack. I've seen enough of this shit.

    SB is a puppet who needs to show some balls, fess up to his inadequate additions, and get something done quickly. Change is needed …

    How can Q dress Scott (the slowest player in the league) against the fastest team in the league then keep him on the bench and go with 5 D for two and half periods? Oh and on the way, I may as well wear out the "complacent core" while I'm messin' with their heads … I feel for Toews. You could see he was totally pissed out there tonight ...

    I need to get some sleep after that game. I swear if you told me they were a pick-up hockey team, I'd believe it. Pathetic …

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