Words that come to mind while watching this game are, pummeled, trounced, overcome, overwhelmed, overpowered, and conquered. All of which made me want to turn the game off by the start of the 3rd period. Reading around a bit, I noticed an unwillingness to look at this game as too telling towards what kind of team the Hawks are. I am not going to go so far as too view it as a sign of impending doom, but I do think it showed us who and what this Hawks team is made of. Keep in mind, they play the Blues twice more before the months end. Still, taking 2 of the 3 road games without Toews is worth a nod, and is better than I would have thought possible.
There is little reason to get into the specifics of this game, as I would hate to relive them, or make you do the same. The Blues have confidence, and a great coach who helped them realize their skill as individuals and as a team unit this year. The Hawks have neither from my perspective. The Hawks have won games that were handed to them, and taken a few away as they did the other night in Detroit, but they have not shown to me that they can beat a team like the Blues consistently, who are better at playing a system game, are a physical threat, and who control the pace of the play.
All of the consistent issues presented themselves last night. The physical beating was a train wreck, the Hawks got clumsy in their zone again, had no flow through the neutral zone, the power-play was a giant reason for the outcome, the PK little better, and Kaner (who had been on a recent tare through opposing defenses) was neutralized by a physically, and positionally tough team. The only exciting moment was when Bollig and Reaves duked it out at center ice, old-time hockey style, and I am not one to enjoy the fights.
The power-play was a huge factor, but the Hawks lost this game as soon as it began, coming out flat, without any energy or will to play the game. Bollig gets mad props for asserting himself and attempting to generate some enthusiasm for the Hawks, but the following shift showed that there was nothing there to motivate. Eventually, a failed clearing attempt would end up in the Hawks net as the barrage on Emery was well underway. I felt good about how Emery handled himself in this one. He never seemed to get frustrated, kept his head in the game and made some big saves even though I am sure he knew it was going to be a long night.
The only offense ever generated was by the Sharp/Stalberg/Kruger line. Stalberg had a few chances, created some space within the Blues well positioned defense with his speed and could have been a difference maker if he had cashed in on a couple of his chances. Sharp also knocked on Halak's door a couple of times, but Halak is Halak, and he is on fire these days (only adding to the fact that St. Louis is most likely the best team in the NHL right now) which spells slim pickings for his opponents. Getting back to Sharp for a second though, who had a blatant opportunity in which he thought he scored on a one-timer, but it never crossed the line. This was a play that Sharp usually buries and could stand as an example for how much Chicago was on their toes in this one.
Seabrook seemed to be well aware of what the Blues bring physically, and he took it upon himself to step in and protect his teammates on many occasions, which is something I have not seen from him in a while. This might be a wake-up call for him, as he has looked lack-luster in recent games.
I really don't care to go on about this game. The power-play was so bad that it allowed a shorty, was a neagtive 1 on 5 opportunities, the Hawks were embarrassed at every corner of the ice and were destroyed as a result. Is this a sign of worse things to come? Given that the Hawks surprised me with strong play the few games prior, this game just washes all that away, leaving me once again completely unsure about what this team is truly capable of.
We have the Rangers, Kings, and then Blues again at home in the next 3. The schedule doesn't get much easier after that either, so I will look to how the Hawks respond in this home-stand before making any predictions on the future. As it stands, the Hawks are still in 6th, with the Yotes and Sharks right below them. The Kings are just outside looking in and pose the biggest threat to the Hawks not making the playoffs. At 74 points to the Hawks 79, the Kings have played 2 games less than the Hawks. To put it another way, if the Hawks do not play some really good hockey over these next 3 games, they could find themselves in a really bad place. Yeah, Im a little nervous right now.