Getting back to the Nashville game for a moment:
It is highly doubtful that a team will beat the Predators when allowing 3 goals against in the game, and the Chicago Blackhawks did just that. But, the loss was not the most noticeable element to the game. Even though they failed again, for the 9th time in a row, the Hawks looked better in a lot of important ways. In fact, the Preds had no right winning that game in regulation after being the lesser team for the full 60.
The first thing that caught my eye was that the Hawks forwards were trying to stay in their zone longer, before shooting out looking for that stretch pass that has gotten on everyone's nerves. They stayed longer, and they were deeper, which helped a more cohesive defensive movement turn into a better transition. However, to the frustration of this Hawks fan, they continued to clump together, allowing for holes that the Preds exploited on more than one occasion.
Maybe most unfortunate in this game, the Hawks took a few too many penalties which got to a start early. The Predators have a strong power-play and you could say that the Hawks dodged a few bullets in that area. On the flip-side, the Hawks had their fair share of power-play opportunities that also went without any conversions. Still a gapping hole in the Hawks game, the pp continues to offer no answers to the current skid into this deep dark hole. Alas, there is a ladder for climbing out somewhere. Lets just hope they find it in time.
The Hawks also seemed to be playing ever so carefully, a fact that is nice to see, but also hurts them in the long run. They need to be quicker, as this is their special quality that sets them apart from other teams. Simple hockey, does not need to be slow and timid hockey.
In rare fashion, a Toews turnover spelled the beginning of the end in this one, as the Hawks chased from that point on. I guess he will be sat for a bunch of minutes next game, because Q proclaimed team hockey and a team deals with mistakes as a team.
- Who replaced Bickell with a new, and slightly better version?
- Mayers continues to impress, but his minutes never go up.
- Lepisto had an extremely awesome drive to the net and set Toews up beautifully for what seemed would end in the net. Unfortunately, the goalies jersey reads Rinne on the back. I think not playing Lepisto more during this season was a huge mistake.
- Emery was solid the entire game, save for one small moment. He made some really big saves in the 2nd to keep the Hawks within reach. I blame him for the 3rd goal and I don't. Keith should have attacked that shot instead of choosing to sit back and offer a screen to his goaltender. If you are going to block the shot, then block it. The tip off of Keith's stick has just as much blame as Emery's inability to square to the shot better. Even more, Keith should have attacked the shooter, but 30 minutes of ice-time will do that to a player (he took the easier option).
- Finally, Hossa showed up to play hockey. I would not call this a spectacular performance by number 81, but it was better than the past few weeks, and it payed off for him in a rare way to score on Pecka Rinne. That shot was that 1 in 1,000,000 that gets passed the giant goaltender.
- The Hawks forecheck was another area of good things to see. They forced the Preds into a few mistake which occurs rarely, and the Predators eventually seemed lazy with the puck.
- The Predators really seemed to have no interest in winning this game and they still did. Just goes to show the state the Hawks are in.
In the end, the Hawks increased their slide and that slide is taking them into the last place anyone would want to be right now. New York is the best team in the league, and playing some great hockey. While the Hawks have been unable to shutout any team this year, Lundquist just came off his league leading 7th shutout. This Rangers team is playing some excellent hockey, hell, perfect hockey if you ask me. It is going to take a balls out, smart game from the Hawks.
And here is my 2 cents: The Hawks win tonight. Call me crazy, but I see a win coming against the hardest team to beat. What better way to end this slide? Then, it is off to Columbus, where the Hawks can put together a 2 game streak in the other direction. Unfortunately, the Blues and Wings will be waiting on the other end. This next 4 games is going to be a huge deciding factor in where the Hawks end up this year and might force the hand of some big moves come next year. Me eyes are glued to screen.
I just noticed that Crow is starting the game. Not so sure about my prediction anymore. It is my opinion that Crawford is in a really bad state and not worthy of playing hockey at the moment. Emery looks much more solid.
Filed under: Game Recap