The Chicago Blackhawks: You Win some, and You Lose some.

The Chicago Blackhawks: You Win some, and You Lose some.

Well, the Blackhawks are losing some at the moment. As FF said at the end of the last post, "they are tired and not having fun." Duncan Keith pretty much said it before the game. He also added that it was a whole team issue, not just a single player, so don't point the finger at one or two guys. I found his little interview telling, and once again some of that subtle distaste for the coaching system started to poke through the propaganda. Tell me why we are able to criticize a players performance in the media, but not the coaches here?

Because here is the thing, If we are not pointing at one player, why is Q? Now, he might say that he isn't, but explain this to me, because it is the single factor of last night's game that I can't wrap my head around. First of all, Bickell on the 3rd line? Wait for it, here comes the real doozy; Leddy was sent down to the 6th spot last night, and O'Donnell, not Montador was moved up to the 4th spot. Here is where it gets really awesome, because this move had the 2 D-men playing on their opposite sides which meant getting used to a whole new situation, a situation that I can tell you is hard to play in. Let alone deciding that O'Donnell and not Montador would get moved up. I seriously couldn't even focus on anything after hearing about this move. But, we aren't punishing Leddy right? The issues don't fall on just one player. (Leddy was not on the ice for a single goal)

Morrison was moved down to the 3rd line, while Kruger was placed back in his old spot as second line center. Somewhere towards the end of the game, Q finally made the right move of putting Bolland in that spot, and having Morrison center the 3rd line. Just a bit too late.

The Game:

  • The Hawks came out of the gate exactly like we would have wanted them to. Everything looked pretty kosher. We have to be very happy with the 1st period, as the Hawks played a very tight, clean game and it looked like the advantage would be theirs.
  • Seabrook would score in this period, after a great pass from Kane that followed an even better play where Toews worked the puck deep into the zone.
  • The Hawks had a sense of urgency, they were playing with purpose, and looking smart.
  • The 1st line was again overwhelming the opposition, but it also pointed to an issue that hurt them later.
  • Things began to change in the 2nd period. Noticing the Hawks were top heavy in the 1st line, the Flames began to focus harder on them, and the other Hawk lines just couldn't muster the same productivity. Eventually, the Hawks snapped and Calgary quickly took the momentum of the game away.
  • Part of the issue is that few of the Hawks are playing their best hockey right now. Hossa is especially looking slow, and might even be playing his worst hockey in some time. Sharp is just coming off that injury, which makes matters worse. This is where a good coach would recognize his team and make the proper adjustments. That 2nd line needed Bolland at center, if not only to help it back to full strength.
  • Fatigue began to set in, the Hawks began to seem like prisoners in their own zone, unable to get that second pass out of the neutral zone, and losing battles in all ends of the ice. The Hawks have no system to fall back on when things really get rough. The need to establish consistency fits right into these back-to-back games when their bodies might not have that extra jump anymore, not to mention all of the players playing in the wrong spots IMO.
  • I do like listening to other cities feeds though. Some of the other announcers have fresh, and unique perspectives on the Hawks. They too, did not understand why Bolland was not the 2nd line center. They too, see a giant whole in the Hawks system of play which is easily exploited. And boy do they love Stalberg.
  • Stalberg was the best player on the ice, and I thought he just might have had enough energy to win it for the Hawks. His ice-time was still below that of 4 other players though. The Calgary announcers see what I have seen for a while now, a hockey player with a skating ability above anyone else in the league. I heard someone give credit to Q, "look at what he has done with Stalberg, that makes him a great coach," to which I can only laugh. If he had been used correctly throughout his time here, we might be seeing the superstar inside exploding right now. He could easily have 30 goals at this point if he had the right mentoring.
  • Bolland was pretty low in ice-time, and I have to question why.
  • Frolik was sat after taking a dumb penalty, because we don't blame any one player, and everyone gets sat when they take a bad penalty. It really isn't a surprise that Bickell and Frolik took bad penalties. They have the most reason to be frustrated.
  • Speaking of penalties, they did not help the Hawks last night. I guess thats what happens when the whole team is tired and mentally beaten.
  • Hey, Emery was pretty darn solid. He made some key saves, looked pretty poised, and almost kept the Hawks in this one. Are we done with this "goalie controversy."

The Hawks dug deep to find some energy in the 3rd, but it just wasn't enough. Eventually, they started making bad passes, and a lot of bad communication started rearing its head, which landed them with a 3-1 deficit.
Biggest point on the night: The Flames top players beat the Hawks top players.
The Hawks are frazzled, their mental approach is destroyed right now. Kane has 2 goals in 20 games, players are getting benched for bad plays while others are immune to Q's wrath. Hossa is at his worst right now, and the Hawks have fallen to .500 on the road, and with a few tougher teams coming at them in this road trip. There is most definitely hope. The Hawks still have enough overwhelming talent to pull themselves back into the light, but the darkside is creeping in and the 7th spot is calling to them.
Nashville and St. Louis play tonight, pick your poison.

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  • I gotta be honest here, HH. Part of me hopes this team is on its way to hitting rock bottom. I want to think that this is just another blip in the hockey season and that all will be well, but, somehow I can't buy into it. There's just too much consistency to their inconsistency.

    They are where they are in the standings despite playing poorly for the majority of their games. I said way back that they were doing it with smoke and mirrors and I still think that to be the case. No need to go into the reasons as we all can see the warts now. The team overestimates its greatness, the coach thinks he has the same squad he had two years ago and continues to use techniques which clearly make no sense to even the casual observer, and the GM has failed to address the personnel issues that plague this team. The entire hockey organization should be up for review, but, of course, that's not going to happen. There's no deal out there that will improve this team enough and to magically expect the coach to start coaching and the players to start playing like they are capable of playing is almost an oxy-moron to me. Something has got to give. Oil and water do not mix.

    Yes, they should be looking down and not up in the standings. It doesn't matter what the Preds, Blues, and Wings do from here on out. Hawks are going to end up playing them in the playoffs—if they make it that far. Today, like Frank Zappa says, "I Figure the odds be 50-50".

  • The Hawks have been blown out of about 15 or so games this year, and that is a lot. Blow out defined as losing by 3 goals where they showed little chance of fighting back.

    I want the Hawks to play better hockey, but the fact is (if you have been watching every game of the season closely) they are performing like a team who should be just above .500 or so. They lost to Vancouver when they should have won, but they have won far more games that they had no right winning.

    Again, with that said, I have hope for the team. I haven't liked anything Q has done since coming aboard and that includes the year the Hawks won the Cup. But, you can't argue in the face of results, because no one wants to listen. He treats some players too well, and craps on others. The Cup team had good chemistry because of the players, and not Q.

    I truly believe the talent is here to win with, but not unless their philosophies and system are shook up. I am not ready to throw Frolik under the bus, his overall play has been decent enough, and if we do, then couldn't we do the same to Kane for similar reasons?

    I would like to see one more trade that brings a legit player. Maybe on D, or a 3rd line winger. Move Bolland to 2nd line, and build your 3rd line in IMO. Goaltending could also help, but I have not had any issues with Emery's play. Still, if Miller were in a Hawks jersey, I think the Hawks have at least 7 more wins than they do now.

    The heart rests with the coaching, and I agree that Q has to be the one to go. He does have the most responsibility for the way the Hawks have inconsistently performed. But, I also think it will take a further drop in the standings for it to happen. Kitchen hasn't exactly blown me away, and I feel reason to be unsure about Haviland too.

    Toews and company might just kick it into gear on their own and make sure it doesn't happen, saving Q's job, but at the result of future growth.

    Who knows, if things continue to unravel, the Hawks could be in a dangerous place by the end of this road trip. That might bring about serious action.

  • Here are my line combos without further change:
    Toews/Kane/Stalberg
    Bolland/Hossa/Sharp
    Morrison/Shaw/Hayes or Frolik
    Mayers/Brunette/Hayes or Frolik

    I could even be persuaded to try Mayers as a 3rd line winger, and moving Kruger into the 4th line center spot.

    On D, I think we need some shaking up unfortunately, and it needs to be with the goal of balance in mind. I suggest:

    Keith/Hjalmer
    Seabs/Leddy
    Monti/Olsen.

    The top 2 need to see equal ice-time.

    Then, I propose fixing defensive zone play and focusing on nothing else for a while. The weird collapsing D-men thing where they allow the opposition to push them into their goalie is just terrible. Open up the D a bit, clearly define roles and let go of using the stretch pass thing every play. Keep a center deep and winger deep in case of trouble. How many times have you seen our D go behind the net with the puck because of no options and eventually turn it over. Once some kind of system is there, the D can become more aggressive which is terribly needed. The PK needs more aggressive play as well. We are weak in front of the net, and we just allow opposing teams to shoot from the point, picking up rebounds or getting tips.

    The offensive powers will figure it out on their own, but need to keep up the drives towards the net. Hence bringing Hayes back into the mix.

  • In reply to Hostile Hawk:

    I don't disagree with anything you say. I'd be going in the direction of youth too. And, while Olsen was only a ship passing through, Hayes and Shaw brought some life to a listless squad. One thing is for certain, they are no worse off with them in the lineup. Why isn't Lepisto playing, why is Scott, why is Bickell in?

    As you know, I'm all about team play and rolling the lines. Put some faith in what you have and just don't pay lip service to it like Q did the other day. Q actions in-game clearly speak that he does not have that faith.

    With all due respect to his coaching record, Q has had some loaded teams and has never advanced them very far. He had a good run in St Louis but he was out after 4 years in Colorado. He won nothing and could never beat Scotty Bowman's teams in the playoffs.
    I have never liked him as a coach and he does play extreme favorites. IMO, he's basically split this team into two tiers with his mind games and constant juggling of the lines. An injury to Brunette is not enough cause to take Morrison off the second line and move Kruger back up and juggle the lines all over again. Let them grow into the job, have some faith.

    Frolik is a good player, he's had 20+ goals a couple of times. He hasn't been used properly since he's been here. Hasn't found a slot in the lineup and hasn't, obviously, endeared himself to Q. I've said many times he messes with their minds too much. All of the newcomers play scared and I just don't agree with that method of coaching. Do you think these guys would go to the wall for Q? I don't.

    Fundamentally this team misses the mark in so many areas and that's on coaching. Sure they can win on skill, but now that the regular season is winding down that just isn't going to be so easy.

    You can count on one hand the number of games where this team has competed for 60 minutes. They've quit on this guy, they no longer are drinking his cool-aid. That's the way it goes. He's run the course with this squad. Time to move on.

    I like the line-up posted above, but as far as changing the way they play the game goes, I don't think that will happen. Q coaches his system—whatever that is—not the players and the assets they bring to the team.

    Yes, it's time to batten down the hatches and play more responsible defensive hockey, but I think the players have been dictating the style of play for some time now and whatever Q has to say is not getting through. Time to move on.

    None of this will happen of course, as SB has locked this guy up for several years and as an accountant he'll always have an eye on the bottom line. That's why I say, give Havy the job, bring in Savard to deal with the special teams, and let Kitchen go at season's end. They're already on the payroll so why not?

    SB also loves his players too much. He needs some balls to generate a shake-up of the magnitude required to wake these complacent players up and turn this around.

  • A favorite theme of mine is that this team is not balanced. Up top, you have four forwards who enormously talented. On the bottom, you have a player like Mayers who is performing his role with near perfection. In between them are several players, IMO, simply do not bridge the gap well enough to provide a cohesive system. Q, does not help things with his perpetual line juggling and I'm done trying to make an objective view of him that comes across as defense. We honestly don't know what happens in the locker room and whether he has really lost the room. Regardless, it will probably be time for Q to move on after this year.

    Overall, I'm not unhappy with what SB has done. After the cup, his job was to literally blow up his team. Boston had no such problem to deal with. This year, I think he sought exactly the right kinds of players to address what we all complained were holes. And they haven't all worked out. It doesn't mean he's an idiot or that he's trying to be a cheap ass. I think he's trying to be responsible. The departure of Q, if it comes after this season, is not going to fix some holes. If anything, it may make them more pronounced, though I'm not sure I get too many takers for that line of thinking.

    With the cap continuing to squeeze teams, I think every team is finding themselves less and less able to carry players who can't do things in every zone up and down the ice. Moreover, if you are a top heavy team, I think you are going to find your matchups becoming more and more difficult to manage. Would Trotz automatically have this team at the top of the conference? The Hawks team that won the cup and the current Boston team were and are very balanced. I'm not trying to make an excuse for SB, but a lot of teams are trying to do exactly what he is trying to do. We still complain about Campbell's contract, which in part he got because there weren't a lot of good guys to be had in free agency. But, Tallon did pay up and it paid off. Do we do that again?

    I believe that in just the time that has passed since the Hawks won, the league has changed. I think SB has moved in the right direction, which is to say he's tried to unwind expensive contracts, develop some very solid looking prospects and not place himself in cap hell. however, I think the league has already moved quicker then he has. The preds have been cheap and Borg like for years, suddenly they are looking like a real threat. Whether it happens now or in the off season, I think a core slicing is inevitable.

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