Trend officially started, Hawks win when Lepisto scores.

Trend officially started, Hawks win when Lepisto scores.
Suck it Q, I scored!

Lepisto scores along with five other supporting players to lead the Hawks to a pretty solid 6-1 victory, further proof Q needs to be fired for mismanaging Lepisto's ice time. Course, since I recap less then Lepisto plays, maybe I shouldn't crack wise. Anyway, since I already write way too much when I post, I'm not going to cover every goal. Mason had a major meltdown, which didn't do his team any favors and he compounded it by going to the bench and launching a defiant verbal assault on his coach in front of the entire bench. Without a doubt, the Jackets are a troubled team that any long term Hawks fan should have some empathy for. Still, If Crawford stops the shot that came from Lepisto's give away, this is possibly a 6-0 win and first shut out of the year. It's only two games, but I have seen some things start to happen that I believe are very important that have been missing for a very long time and I'm going to focus on that.

When I saw this team play the Yotes live in Phoenix, I was convinced the skid would hit ten games. Coming off two games in a row where Toews was openly abused by the Avs and Sharks without much response from his team, the game against the Yotes was not much of an improvement. Something changed in the Preds game, which I will get to in a minute, but from that point on the Hawks have been a very different team. We've talked quite a bit on this blog about Q sucking. And then from time to time we talk about other things like the cliched "little things". In the midst of this slump, a lot of blogs mentioned the players were saying the right things and personally, I disagreed. I also heard the phrase "gripping the sticks too tight" and I kind of disagreed with that too. On the ice, the only place that really matters, what I saw night after night were a host of "little things" going on or not going on that I felt broadcast to the entire western conference what this team was about. Namely that it was kinda soft, that it would not stand up for each other, that it would let opposing players stand in it's crease after whistle's to get in the goalies head, that it would stay on the perimeter if physically challenged and worst of all, that it would stand by and do nothing while it's heart and sole captain got abused.

Not a single reader is going to like hearing this, but the bullshit against Toews stopped the minute John Scott was reinserted into this lineup. He has been called worthless, skillless, a wasted roster spot and a host of other things. But he showed again today why no player in the league wants to fight him. He played forward, he played D, and though he made a turnover pass that was as bad as Lepisto's, he did not hurt his team. Late in the game, with the score already 6-1, Kane did something I have not seen him do for most of the year, he drove the net. But it's not just Scott. Early in the game, somebody got in Olsen's face and gave him a high hit. A few shifts later, Hayes stepped up and answered the call. Let's be honest, this team is not going to physically intimidate ANY team in the league. But I would offer this. If you take the abuse card away from the other team, you start to regain the only edge this team has over most, which is its ability to score. Let's not get crazy and call Q a genius to play Scott, but I say let's do stop for a second and ask ourselves why the stretch pass is again having some success.

John Scott aside, I have seen this team FINALLY start to challenge players who fly into the crease after whistles and stand there to play mind games with Crawford and the defense. This is also probably going to start some flames, but I believe Hammer has been one of the worst offenders on this team when it comes to crease mind games and letting other players out position him and whack away at Crawford without a shred of retaliation. Nobody on this team is as fearless at blocking shots as Hammer and he is a legit second pair guy. But I think the arrival of Olsen and his immediate assumption of big ice time over Lepisto lends some credence to the argument our defense is either undersized or undermotivated. Lepisto is not a bad player and I'm happy that the score was lopsided enough to convince Q to get him back in the game and give him a chance to score. But when he is one of six players who are all roughly six foot and 200 lbs or less, I see him as just another guy who wants to be a quick puck mover but is instead negated by a larger forward. I'm not as critical on his turnover today, but I'll wait for comments to say more about that.

The ice time today was very balanced. I wasn't happy to see Keith play 29 minutes the other night, but they had to kill a shitload of penalties. Speaking of that, the power play in the last few games has been much better and though I think the addition of some new players has helped, I see an aggressiveness that was not there previously. The power play, sadly, is still clown shoes. But maybe that will improve. It's safe to say most of this blog wants Q fired. My take is a bit nuanced there, but I find it interesting that with just a little size added here and there, the Hawks suddenly look like a almost entirely different team. Down the stretch, I don't see Scott, Hayes and Olsen as the catalyst that launches a cup bid. Still, I can't help but make the assertion that every "core" forward plays with a bit more edge when they have some confidence they are not going to get their heads removed if they score a goal. Olsen is very young and is going to make mistakes. Still, I felt like he stumbled a bit but got right back into it after Hayes stepped up for him. We know Q won't be fired until at least the summer. In the meantime, can a trade help here? Looking at the outcomes when there has been some size added, I'm inclined to say the Hawks should look for that.

Sorry this is not much of a recap if you didn't see the game. This is the kind of team the Hawks need to beat right now and they did so. All games from here are important, but the next two especially seem like they are games the Hawks must keep very close at a minimum to continue building confidence and plant a seed in the minds of the Blues and Wings that they are still a dangerous team.

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  • The replay on Lepisto's turnover was very interesting. With the play stopped, you can see what looks like an enormous opening for Lepisto to pass the puck up ice. Once they hit play, you can see the gap close almost instantly as the forward read what Lepisto was going to do in a split second. Arguably, if Lepisto is playing more often at game speed, he probably doesn't make that pass.

  • In reply to VegasHawksFan:

    I pretty much lost it when Scott came out in Lepisto's place on his next would be shift, and it got worse when the 2nd period ended and I still hadn't seen him on the ice. This is an absolutely disgusting display of coaching, and I completely agree with all the comments read here on the matter.

    Yes, it was a really bad play, but as Vegas points out (and I saw it in a similar perspective), there was a brief hole, as Brassard was blocked slightly from view. A bad play by Lepisto for sure, but again, as FF points out below, I find the larger issue to be that all the forwards were already waiting at the other blue line for a stretch pass. This is why this play is so dangerous, and it is obviously one of Q's ideas, so deal with it when it blows up in your face. Sitting Lepisto for your own bone-headed idea of a play is so destroying to this team in many ways.

  • In reply to Hostile Hawk:

    I don't like cherry pick hockey, but on this play today, there was one forechecker back instead of the three I saw in Phoenix. For better or worse, this is what this team does best and at this point in the season, it is not going to change. When it works, it shreds a lot of teams. When it doesn't, is costs them goals like the one today. Olsen did make a similar play and Keith has made multiple plays like this all year that lead directly to goals. Lepisto is the player SB provided, Olsen is the size of player Q wants.

  • Well i certainly agree that John Scott brings a mange that simultaneously protects and inspires. It's satisfying to see the other team resort to bitch slaps trying to deal with him. the hawks have been pushed around all year and it is a relief to see them get some fricking teeth. The team is developing that attack swagger again. We'll see how they do with the blues. Hate that team.

    Maybe not.

  • Lepisto=Campoli lite. Nothing more. Handles the puck like a hand-grenade.

    I deleted the game off my DVR but what I saw on his giveaway was three forwards cheating the zone. It was eerily similar to Campoli last year against Vancouver.

    Here's the thing with Q. Olsen makes exactly the same play in the second period and Q keeps him out there. Lepisto is on a short leash, we already know that, but you don't do that stuff with your players unless you're going to treat them all the same. Q doesn't, end of story.

    Actually Vegas, and HH, this board should be more about the game within the game rather than a recap. After-all we can get a recap anywhere. So, good job on offering some of your insight, as we all view most games through different eyes.

    Agreed about John Scott, but he can't carry the minutes. He played two positions today and did not hurt the team. He won't see ice in the playoffs so he better cast a long shadow from the press box.

    Basically, what we've seen the last two games is goaltending worse than the 'hawks. Not enough to sway me that they're out of the woods yet. They gave Columbus 34 shots today, but not many quality chances. We'll see tomorrow against the Blues who earned another

    On a positive note, the PK looks good, the PP meh, and overall as a team they appear to be more patient in waiting for their chances and then using the quick strike. It's not like they're dominating in the zone. Finally, the biscuit is going in the basket for 88, 19, 10.

    Noted too, was that Captain JT started the scoring in both games and got the team going today for sure with that beauty of a goal as he walked around Carter. Things were looking pretty awful until he found twine.

  • Agreed on all accounts folks.

    The opposition's goaltenders played large roles in both wins.

    Even larger, this team continues to showcase how it is carried by Toews, who started off the scoring in both wins and with superb fashion I might add. He sets the tone, and the team has to make sure that he has the freedom to do so.

    No surprise that the Hawks win when Toews, Sharp, and Kane score.

    Crow looked somewhat like an NHL goaltender today, but I also feel that the D is doing a much better job in front of him. Olsen and Lepisto have been well received. Now lets just get O'Donnell switched out for Montador or Hjalmer. I will say this about Hjalmer, we do miss his shot blocks.

    A moment on Kruger: I have been a nay sayer of his. Pointing to his talents as questionable. But, man does this guy play positioned and smart hockey. He makes up for his lack of talent with consistently smart hockey. He chips it in when it needs to get down low, makes the pass when it is there and goes to the net quicker than most. I get why he is around, but still think there are better options.

    Tomorrow's game is by the far the larger one. I do not have high hopes , but hope I get proven wrong. This will be a real challenge for this team to overcome, and the Blues will not give an inch.

  • In reply to Hostile Hawk:

    I didn't weigh in much the other day on the Kruger stuff, but from the get go, he has frequently put himself in a very good position and frankly, I think he is one of the better players on the team in positioning. What really made me a fan of him though is that from day freaking one, he went to his own crease after whistles and pushed guys away, usually guys much larger then him. Until now, I have watched Keith and Hammer in particular let guys stand there and play the head games and it has driven me batshit to watch all year long. After skill and physicality comes intimidation and if you let people treat you like a bitch, it's only going to get worse. Even wreck leagues like the one I play in highlight this every week.

    Regarding Scott and Hayes and what not, I want to reiterate that I don't think these particular guys are the answer for what the Hawks need. Having said that, their size along with some skill are needed for the future of this team. Hayes may be a keeper next year and I think Olsen will as well. Scott probably won't but unless they can find a more emotionally stable replacement for Carcillo, I think they will find themselves with the exact same issues next year.

  • I'm getting tired of this John Scott nonsense. You said it yourself that HAYES was the one to step up for his teammate. Scott only fought when some moron decided his team needed a boost after they were already down 4-1. Fact is: the Hawks won the Cup WITHOUT a one-dimensional oak tree. We need tough, two-way guys back like Ladd and Brouwer who'll stick up for each other AND play the game.

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