"It's tough to look at the bright side of things," Jonathan Toews said. "We played the way we had too, but we gave them too many opportunities on the power play. That's how they separated us from them in this game."
Oh my, where do we start? Well, the captain did a pretty good job starting us off with his statement above. This game came down to 2 things. Goaltending and Power-Plays. I guess all that time spent working on the power-play in practice and apparently ignoring the whole PK thing did not pay-off as anticipated.
The Hawks had 3 big opportunities early on, in the form of power-plays and were unable to do anything with them. The Sharks however had 3 PP tallies on the night. Adding insult to injury, the Hawks were out-shooting the Sharks 24-15 after 2 periods of play and yet, trailing 3-2.
Twice, Crawford was found overcommitting so bad that he ended up practically behind the net, and twice it cost the Hawks a goal. Add in another weak attempt at a save and you have yourselves 3 goals that I put on Crow. Is he done? I did say that a few weeks back, but he continues to get starts, so who knows how much more we will see of him. I just doubt he gets it together by the end of the season.
There really is so much to state about this game, and with the Yotes game fast approaching at 7:30 tonight, not much time to say it and get ready for another chance at falling further into the depths of despair. So, lets get to some points:
- The good: Olsen and Lepisto. Olsen had nearly 20 minutes of ice-time and I think he was good for more really. He looked darn good out there, playing smart, cohesive, and aggressive hockey at both ends of the ice. Unfortunately, his stick was the culprit of a Sharks goal, but I hope everyone else saw the beauty in his attempt to stop that SJ rush. He made an outstanding play to break it up moments before, and when pucks end up in your net after something like that, you know the luck is not with you. Lepisto only skated about 12 minutes, and again, I think he was worth more looks, but he ended as a +1 and had an assist. Both played great, and are further evidence to the misuse of players, rather than the need for a trade.
- The Q: Sometimes I wonder about his hockey awareness, and I most seriously question his ethics. Frolik comes out and plays hard, earning himself a 4 minute double minor for high-sticking, and within the first 2 minutes of hockey has found himself moved to the back burner to wallow in his own pity. Stalberg, who was apparently sick, was playing decent hockey on the 3rd or 4th line (who knows), gets moved up again, continues to play decent hockey and then makes one mistake (a mistake Kaner has made more times than I can count, or even Hossa for that matter) and never sees the light of day again. Please tell me that he ended up feeling too sick to play, because if Q really benched him for one mistake in a sea of strong plays we might as well throw in the towel on the Hawks getting out of their mind-F, or Stalberg ever reaching his full potential with Q on the bench.
- Now that I have gotten that out of my system: Besides a few really bad moments in the first when I saw every player in a Hawks uniform in the same area of ice within the defensive zone (the bunching up continues), the overall performance wasn't half bad. Hell, the Hawks looked darn good for a 10 minute stretch in the 2nd.
- And how about that Kruger? That's what I get for saying he has no right to be on the ice, if not on the 4th line, or in Rockford. Say what I will about his talent and usual presence in the game, he has a very direct, and simple approach that pays off sometimes. Go straight to the net, get in Niemi's way, find the rebound (rocket science). Kruger's 2 goals were examples of how to beat the Sharks, and I have to say it shocked me that SJ allowed it to happen, especially twice.
- Why don't we throw Bickell into that statement as well. A guy who I consider to be dead to the Hawks came out, scored a goal and got into a fight. The highlight of his goal was Lepisto's play to keep the puck in play.
- Is it just me, or do the players coming from Rockford play better, tougher, and smarter hockey?
- If Frolik can be benched for taking a "dumb" penalty, why wasn't Keith for taking a really stupid one (when he sucker-punched Clowe after the Toews/Thornton debacle) that also ended in a Sharks goal? Nope, he was awarded with over 30 minutes of ice-time in a game when all the defensemen were performing.
- The Hawks PK is designed to allow shots from the perimeter, and it keeps killing them. Crawford is not absorbing the pucks, and the D is still weak at clearing the slot. This approach will continue to end with disastrous consequences. Again, not exactly rocket science.
- I am a huge Mayers fan, but he had no right being on the top line. BTW, Toews and Hossa look confused playing together. Does Frolik, Brunette, Stalberg even constitute a line? No Morrison huh.
- A moment on Toews: Has he really been the same since that game when I had a heart attack about his ice-time? I noticed something that game. Toews overcame his threshold, playing nearly 30 minutes and trying too hard to carry the team against the odds, or lack of support. I think Q squashed him that game, and the loss of the captain we know (and love) is maybe an overlooked element of this current debacle of a skid.
The Hawks had the right mojo in a matter of speaking, but their many concerns as a team have brought about bad juju, and too many leaks to contain. I felt like they might have had the win there for a while, and then that luck, the luck you make, came and took it from them.
Niemi was far better than Crawford, but we already knew who the better goalie was. Again, maybe some bad juju from a few wrong moves in the past. I hear lots of trade rumors, and yeah, a goalie might help, but most likely not one without super-star skills, and that would just cost too much. I am not calling for the trade of a "core" player, but I do find it funny how people complain about the lack of options in the market when the Hawks themselves are unwilling to put up the bait, even when they seem to possess very decent prospects to fall back on.
A loss tonight would put the Hawks within close reach of falling below the dreaded playoff line. Looks like another 2010-2011 finish is upon us.