No Drive, No Goals: Chicago Blackhawks 0, Avalanche 4.

No Drive, No Goals: Chicago Blackhawks 0, Avalanche 4.

Where is the battle, where is the coverage, where is the drive, where are the goals, and where my friends is the coaching?

There are some hard realities to swallow here. The Hawks seem to be running into other teams who are in playoff mode, and the results are far from promising. Are we seeing the picture that many of us have been painting since game 1 come to an unwanted fruition? Well, the Hawks have lost 3 of their last 4, are winless since the little "winter break", and the wins that came before that are even questionable. Things are pretty bad right now, just about as bad as Leddy was last night.

Lets see here: terrible puck movement (however, they had the puck often enough), terrible covergae in the D-zone by forwards, terrible slot coverage by the D-men, more line changing, more losing of battles with a weak forecheck and backcheck, more over-playing of certain players (especially Toews), more rolling of 5 D-men because Scott is on the bench, and another shut-out against.

FourFeather just about lost his head in his comments following last night's performance, and most of his anger is directed at coaching. I completely agree, but am not surprised by the way things have been working out, so my reaction is a little more subtle. I have never been a supporter of Q's. In fact, I am not even sure anymore if he even coaches anybody. I honestly think the Hawks would be better without a coach and decided among themselves how they should play hockey. The only real leader on this team is Mr. Serious and Q just about blew him out last night.

Toews had 26 shifts and played close to 25 minutes of hockey. He was practically out there for 3 consecutive minutes after getting triple shifted in the 3rd and the results of this will never be a good thing. Toews is frustrated, giving his all and this will end up hurting the team if it continues. This is how players end up injured. Without him, the Hawks will lose every night.

Back to Q: I am sure many fans out there would call me crazy for sayiing that the signs point to a lack of coaching. I can hear it now, "Q won us a Cup, he is a great coach." Really? Tell me something, what are the issues currently facing the Hawks? The PP is horrible, the PK not much better. The lines are all out of sync, the positioning is non-existent, the preparedness of this squad is that of a cocky Galiath unwilling to work for what seems so easily taken, and the choices of personal on the bench from game to game is a joke (not to mention the dispursement of ice-time). There is absolutely no system of play.

Scott was dressed against a fast team last night, and as a result only had 3 minutes of ice-time. In fact, the Avs might be the best team in the league at playing the Hawks style of hockey. Like I sort of just said, playing Scott seems like a cocky, un-educated, unprepared move by a coach who just expects his plethora of players making over 5 mil to just win him games. If we had 5 players named Jonathon Toews, I might be willing to accept this line of logic, but we don't, and the NHL is full of talent all over the other teams.

Back to the game:

As I mentioned, the Avs pretty much play the same type of game as the Hawks. They however, also play smart defense, go to the net and had great goaltending backing them up last night. Varlamov was darn solid in net. The Hawks could have easily scored a couple of goals. Stalberg was close on a few occassions, Toews had about 3 great scoring chances, Sharp and Kane were in good position to score a few, but Varlamov was there with the save. Maybe none more important than the one on Sharp just before the Avs made it 3-0. The Stalberg breakaway could have changed the game enough for the Hawks late, but Varlamov got just enough of it to send the puck rining off the post. Sure, goaltending was a definite factor last night. Crow had little help, but was far from great. Emery is looking more and more like the best answer right now.

Let us not forget that the Avs were without their best  goal scorer, and one of the best in the league and they still killed the Hawks.

To start the game, we saw more changes in line combos, because it has obviously been working so well. Can we all agree that the Hawks look much better when they stay the same for a while? In the changes, Fro was promoted to the #1 line, and Sharp was placed alongside Kaner. Early in the game, I noticed Sharp taking the extra effort to cover for where the center would be, and it seemed effective enough. Shaw was playng next to these guys on the 2nd line and he would later find himself as a center for the 3rd line, where I thought he did his job well.

Frankly, the youth looked good again. Shaw has been really impressive, and it became even more inspiring after he was switched positions and played that role well. Olsen was also pretty solid on D and even earned 15 minutes of ice-time. Hayes was eventually moved all the way from the 4th line to the 1st line because Q finally noticed a need for a power-forward up there. Hayes is really good at crashing the net, an element completely lost in last night's game.

All in all, this loss came down to losing battles. Most importantly, were the handfull of them lost behind the Hawks net. Leddy would finish with a -4 rating as he was on the ice and had a direct link to every goal against. Hjalmer wasn't much better and the reasons are the result of the same old story. This makes 2 really bad games by Leddy in a row, but I am hesitant to push too much blame in the direction of the young player. The bulk of my blame rests with the coaching staff.

Are the Hawks proving that they are not a playoff team? Will they be able to beat any of the top 4 teams of either conference in a 7 game series? Signs are beginning to point to no. Moves and trades are looking even more necessary now. Our fears and concerns from the past 38 games are starting to become larger factors as the season heats up. SB might have to bite the bullet on a few of his moves, accept that Carcillo was a bad idea, but also notice that his good qualities did expose a hole that the Hawks need to fill. A choice needs to be made with regard to the 6th D-man spot. Lines need to be established so that they can get used to each other and be ready for the last 10 games or so. If changes are not made, I fear more injuries to players who we can not afford to lose.

Essentially, the Hawks need to answer for their lack of any system and fight to their game.

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  • I hear you HH. What a lousy way to spend a Friday night.

    The hawks are again over passing and the result is hesitation rather than attacking. They spent the entire damn night along the boards. The D holds the puck at the blue line, waiting for traffic to screen, but the eventual shot gets knocked down and never gets to the net. A waiting or searching mentality takes over and it is insufferable to watch. They need to reestablish the attack. One timers. D pinching to keep the puck in the zone.

  • As horrible as this game was, I think it is serving a purpose. When we bring up this many young guys at one time, who have little or no NHL experience, the teamwork is going to suffer. Factor in the fact that Carcillo is gone and has been an integral part of the top lines, it is a recipe for disaster. But, the only reason these young guys are playing is to showcase them for a trade. Play them, hope they play well, showcase them for the rest of the league, and hope that they can be used in a trade. I think this is the only reason they are being played right now.

    Leddy and Hjalmarsson were horrible again and it is becoming a regular sight. Leddy has been so horrible of late that I do not know where to start. As bad as he has been, I am more disgusted how afraid Hjalmarsson is of getting hit. He seems to sandbag it to the puck so he can just whack at it quick and duck out of the way. Get the damn puck under control and get it out instead of smacking it and hoping it doesn't go to the other team.

  • In reply to BigJack:

    Ahh Jack, you have a way of putting things into a calm and collected perspective.

    Sometimes I feel like I am too negative. Most people I share my opinions with think I am crazy. My hockey buddies though, the ones who have played some puck in their days, some of them agree.

    On Hjalmer, this is a new thing for him. Has me wondering if he is nursing something.

  • Well, gasket replaced, and a new day to start with hasn't changed anything about my opinion of this team. Going nowhere fast and the schedule this week should see them looking up at several teams in the conference unless they collectively pull their heads out of their asses and instigate the necessary change.

    I'm on record here after 20 or so games saying that coaching was an issue and HH has clearly outlined what's wrong with the on-ice product above. You got it—Coaching. Q has spent his wad here and it's time to move up Haviland and bring in someone (Savard?) to handle the special teams.

    Smoke and mirrors, a mirage, is what we've seen from this team so far this year. Skill wins a few games but a system will win more in the end. Clearly the core forwards have carried this team to their, largely undeserved, lofty heights in the WC. They can't keep doing it.
    When you're only in-game adjustments are to mix-up the lines and play the wind out of these core players, you're in big trouble.

    It's been clear to me for a while that the team has tuned out the coach, and HH makes a very valid point when he states, "I am not even sure anymore if he even coaches anybody". The way this team plays on special teams, on defense, is prepared for games, and folds like a cheap lawn chair when the going gets tough, indicates much merit to that comment. They won a cup in spite of Q, not because of Q.

    So the 'hawk "brand machine" as it now appears to have become, is leaking at all the seams and no amount of cello-tape or silicone sealant is going to stop the bleeding. From the top on down some serious decisions are forthcoming. Is the GM really GMing or is he just directing traffic at the will of his father. When will he fess-up and admit that many of his signings have been busts and get on with the business of building a hockey team. (BTW, I was one who thought the moves were sound ones last summer) Big problem for SBjr though. What's he have to trade if not his core, which by all accounts are locked into NMCs or NTCs? After that, what, realistically, is going to fix this listing ship? You may be right Jack … the 'hogs are playing now because of injury, but in reality, they may be the only assets the 'hawks have in a trade. Nothing available on the roster is going to effect much change in a trade. Maybe Tallon wasn't so bad after-all.

    Given that you can't offload any of the under-performers what's next on the "I'm trying to to do something to improve the team" list? It is probably going to be changing the coaching.

    Leddy and Hjalmarsson are not the 3-4 defenders we thought they were and Campbell is sorely missed. These guys are gassed from playing too many minutes and have taken such a pounding they've nothing left to give. Everyone knows the way to beat them is to make them turn their backs on the dump-ins and take away the outlet D man and bingo you have a turnover.

    This is a tough week schedule-wise for the team. Tough opponents and five games in eight days. We'll see. My guess today is that we see a coaching change before we see a major shake-up with the roster. The pieces to complete a trade just aren't worth anything unless you really shake-up the team's core and I'm not sure that's possible.

    The organization, the coaching, and the team are all too complacent. Well, I say that cup win was two years ago guys and those boos you heard last night should be cause for big concern.

  • In reply to fourfeather:

    I fear that it will have to get much worse before that necessary change is made. Unfortunately, and fortunately I guess, the Hawks won a few that they shouldn't have in the first half, buying them too decent of a record to make such a drastic change.

    I was actually trying to see the good things that Q had to offer, willing to admit I was wrong. And then he goes and pulls that crap with Toews and keeps him on the ice for a very extended period of time when the game is already gone. He looked like he was going to have a heart-attack on the bench.

    On Leddy, he seems to be getting worse with more time, and not better like we would have expected. Again, you have to ask why.

    I really doubt we see a change like we are asking until they either finish in the 7th or 8th spots, go out in the first round easily or miss the playoffs completely. This team just might have enough talent to avoid all of those scenarios, regardless of coaching.

  • In reply to Hostile Hawk:

    Well, you may be right about not making any changes because the GM is culpable here too. Still, nothing they do from here on out will change how I feel about his coaching.

    Fundamentally there's so much wrong with the way this team plays hockey and there's not surplus of talent in the cupboard and little in the way of tradeable assets on the roster, so I think a coaching move would be the easiest way to shake things up.

    Haviland is ready to step up and someone like Savy is already on the payroll. It's not like they have to go outside for a new coach.

  • In reply to fourfeather:

    This is not earth shattering, but what I see is complacency from top to bottom. Up until this three game skid, the Hawks were on top, the seats were full and there were people on various blogs commenting on how this team might even be better then the cup team. My strange outlook on life pushes me to always find some kind of middle ground answer, so I've never really been sold a single move that will suddenly propel this team forward.

    Coaching. Say we dump Q, then what? Hitch has got the Blues playing with some fight now, but he also has the players who want to fight. Can a new coach change the fact that Leddy is very talented but is not a real replacement for Campbell at this point in his career? Or can they change Hammer into a player who angrily clears the crease? I'm not saying a new coach won't help, but will Haviland or Savy step in and suddenly change a mindset that has existed since before the cup? I'm not sold on that.

    Right now, I'm looking at the teams at the top of the conferences and I just don't see the Hawks competing with that. Even if we allow Q doesn't have a clue, I don't see the guys on the ice playing for each other. I didn't see an once of pushback when Toews was getting rocked by O'Brian all night, but the minute Bolland put a hard hit on someone, Galiardi dropped the gloves and fought him. Two players on this team understand what it means to be a teammate and role player, and those two guys are players that people don't want to see on the ice.

    Last year and this year, I've seen a phenomenon where either rookies or veteran grit guys come to this team, play with some edge, and eventually fall into the same mode as everyone else. If you are a team playing Chicago, you have to be fearful of their skill and ability to score goals. What you don't have to be afraid of is abusing them while trying to neutralize that skill. Q is one piece of this puzzle, possibly a big piece. I'm not unhappy with SB yet, but I will be curious to see whether he or Tallon get's to a cup quicker.

  • Pretty much got it all, HH. Disagree about Carcillo. It takes patience to develop a true "pest". First nine games, he only had two minutes in penalties and was effective. Matt Cooke is v.3, I think.

    Coaches are easier to change than rosters. Yes, we could use some shoring up on D and a centre a la John Madden. Anyone know where we could get some FOCUS.

  • The Blackhawks have activated Montador from IR and assigned Olsen back to Rockford.

    Yep. Not the guy who only skated 3 minutes the other night. Send the one who can actually play hockey down.

  • Hawks red wings tonight. I admit my powerlessness. I will again watch despite the misery of watching last Friday.

    So many questions to answer. Will Hyde or Jekyll show up? Will holmstrom pitch a tent in front of Crawford and be fed a steady diet of rebounds? Will anybody stand up for everybody?

    Hawks need to get some fight in them. Drive to the net and attack. If they fire the puck and create from there, their talent will take over. But they have to pull the trigger first.

  • In reply to Icehogst:

    I'll wait for the wrap, but I think some of your questions got answered favorably.

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