The Chicago Blackhawks fall in the UC and in the series to the Coyotes.

The Chicago Blackhawks fall in the UC and in the series to the Coyotes.

Make no question about it, the Blackhawks are losing this series because of their own doing. All of the terrible officiating aside, and even though it could have helped the Hawks get a win last night, because we all no how bad the calls were; the Hawks are getting beat to pucks, out muscled along the boards, and just plain outplayed in most areas of the ice. Hence, they fall into a 2-1 hole against a team that just seems to have the Hawks number right now, and the aid of the NHL.

There are moments when the Hawks look prime to take things back into their own hands, but those moments are few and far between. I am very happy with the performances of a few individual players, but see more players falling short and a lack of cohesion from the group as a whole. The Hawks had the lead twice last night, and they just couldn't keep it together long enough for the win. They couldn't even hold the second lead for a minute.

There are many things to discuss, but lets just start with the good:

  • Frolik was a shining gem in the ocean of chaos that was the suspension of Shaw and chaos that ensued in the opening period. Once again, the 3rd line was the strongest and most consistent line, both defensively and offensively, and Frolik deserves much of the credit for helping that be true. Entering the neutral zone as a unit helped too. Frolik was doing everything right, and as I stated in the last post about the Shananaban, it was his time to seize the day. It reminds us all that Frolik is just too good of a player to be watching from the stands no matter how much he scores, and his go-ahead goal could have been the game winner if his team was able to settle things down on the following shift.
  • Crawford, poor Crawford. He provides the stellarest of stellar performances in net, one surely worthy of a shutout, only to have that taken away from him with a breakdown in defense, and then his win is taken from his grasp after he lost focus for a moment which spelled out the Hawks demise as he gave up a softy. I feel for the guy right now. No way the Hawks even make it to OT without his unbelievable performance for the first 60.
  • The defense. On a whole, I liked what I saw from the D-men themselves, with the glaring exception of Nick Leddy. Keith was much, much better, Oduya even seemed a little more composed, and I believe we witnessed the return of the Hammer. He reminded us why he deserved his lofty contract by providing his unbreakable and composed wall of defense we all grew to love him for. At most times, the defense provided a likely situation for Crow to carry home a shutout, but their were a few gaping holes in that D as well.

The not so good: Well, everything except the power-play. I just can't take it anymore. Roll your lines as if it doesn't even exist Q, just roll your lines without a PP unit!

  • Nick Leddy had no right being on the ice last night. When asked on the bench, who he was happy with, Mike Kithchen responded by saying "Leddy." This response is damn near insanity, and provides me with yet another vision of how badly this coaching staff understands their players and how wrong they tend to use them. Dylan Olsen had to sit on the bench for nearly the entire game and watch Leddy provide turnover upon turnover. How many times does he need to cough up the puck, get out muscled along the boards, and put his team in jeopardy before Olsen could get a minute on the ice? This coaching staff can be downright negligent at times.
  • While the 3rd line was a staple, the Kane line looked like a staple remover at times. Yes, they scored the first goal of the game, but as a unit, they worried the hell out of me with every shift on the ice. I understand that Q had less options after Hossa went down, but wouldn't it make more sense to put Kruger back with the line he had been playing with before the playoffs began. Every single time this line of Kane, Kruger, and Brunette stepped on the ice I became nervous. And while we are on the topic of Kane, he needs to step it up big time. Physical teams scare him and I get it. I throw a finger in Q's direction for some of his inconsistency (and he deserves it for creating that line), but Kane holds most that blame. It is often just bad decision making on his part. Crow will most likely get the brunt of it from the critics, but it was Kaner's bad decision moments before the game losing goal that set it in motion.
  • The neutral zone. How many times do I have to say it before Q and company gets it? The Hawks win and lose games in the middle of the ice, and boy are they losing them right now. I mentioned how much better the defense was. Well, apparently that meant that the forwards could fly the zone earlier. How has this team not realized that when they enter the neutral zone as a unit, they find options. When they find options, they find forward momentum, and when they enter the offensive zone with momentum, they win games. Yes, yes, yes, the Yotes are doing a darn good job of making life miserable here for the Hawks with a great forecheck, but this is the Hawks game, and if they deserve to win, they have to establish control in the middle. Their current antics are making that more difficult.

OT has been the best period of hockey from the Hawks in all 3 games. Why? Maybe it is because they realize the game is finally on the line and they step their games up. I felt like the Hawks gave a more inspired performance last night, but they were still losing most of the battles. If you look at the scoresheet, you will see that the Hawks had the majority of shots, and that is even with a ridiculous 1st period that saw the officials trying to hand the game to the Yotes and involved a lot of shots from the visitors. But, and this is a huge but, the Hawks scoring chances were fewer than the Yotes, as the Hawks had many weak shots from the perimeter. They will break that perimeter when they get control of the neutral zone. They seem to do this better in OT (fatigue could play a role). And yet, even when being the better team in OT through all 3 games, they have only won 1 of the 3. Call it bad luck, call it karma for not controlling the first 60, I don't know.
You might have noticed my avoidance of talking about the Hossa hit, and Torres. I honestly feel like Torres is a scum that is not worthy of conversation anymore (if I ignore him, he might go away), and the whole matter has my head spinning. My cries for justice will be unheard, and so I focus on the things I feel the Hawks can control. Here's to a slightly better all around effort from the Hawks, a great performance by Crawford, and the day Frolik got his wings back.
I hope the Hawks want this one really bad, because they are going to have to earn it. They hate these kinds of teams, and they need to find a way to get the better of them. Nothing short of a mind blowingly inspired effort will do in game 4 on Thursday night. Nothing short.

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  • I said in the last thread that I hoped the Hawks would show up and be pissed off, but I envisioned that instead it would be the Yotes who show up and start slamming Hawks around. This is a game I am going to put on Stan Bowman. A constant bitch of mine is that this team is not balanced. There are too many top skill guys and not enough guys who can role play and win against gritty teams. The Yotes play this way every single night of the season. Though they have nowhere near the talent level that Boston does, they send a similar message every night; "You don't like it, MAKE ME stop"

    Torres hit last night silenced this team, especially when his provoked retaliation by Bollig got HIM tossed for ten minutes. In the third, you could just see the Yotes bringing it, controlling the puck and making the Hawks run around. On that last goal, WTF are you doing Kane? Instead of just getting the shot on net, he goes for the dangle in traffic. AGAINST THE PHOENIX COYOTES! Even if we allow that Q is a fucking moron, at some point, your best players, all of whom have won a Stanley Cup, need to step up and make adjustments in what they do. Andrew Shaw is not a hockey god. However, he plays fearlessly, crashes the net and doesn't let guys like Smith get comfortable.

    I dunno. Given how the Hawks have played this year and given the lineup of guys that are left, I don't see the Hawks making a response. Raffi Torres knows his role. He hit Hossa to make a statement, and the Hawks responded by letting Phoenix play the game they want to play. IE they let them hang around, grind the Hawks down and wait for the inevitable moment when someone on the Hawks would make a mistake. If the Hawks cannot score three goals in regulation against the Yotes, this series is over.

  • The hawks are in trouble. The heroic effort from the support guys has not been enough to compensate for the core's inability to generate anything. Despicable tactics by the Dogs and incompetent officiating make matters worse, but the hawks are being pushed all over the ice and outworked. I can't believe how small they look.

    We need a break. A beginning would be the suspension of Torres so the head warping injustice goes away and they can start fresh in game 4.

    Hawks true character is about to be tested. What can go wrong has gone wrong.They are on the ropes and need a rally point. This is a nightmare for hawk fans.

  • I'm just sick and tired of the same old stuff. I thought Hammer was horrible (again) and his usual "I'm afraid to take a hit so I will blindly pass the puck" cost the Hawks the game. That was a horrible turnover that cost the game. He was completely lost as soon as the Yotes dumped the puck. He couldn't decide whether to play the forechecker or go get the puck. Typical Hammer. Leddy was horrible again as well. Watching Leddy skate the puck into the zone and then having no idea what to do with it and turning it over makes me miss Campbell more every day. Watching these two play, coupled with seeing Campbell doing what he always has in the Panther game last night makes me sick.

    While Kane hangs on to the puck too long alot of times, I'm not going to fault him for that last turnover. I think he tried to shoot it but couldn't get the shot off. To me, if you watch the play, the defender hit Kane's stick as he was going for a shot and Kane could not get it off. He tried to recover and lost the puck.

    Is it me or is the officiating getting worse every game?

  • In reply to BigJack:

    My only real disagreement with you is that Kane has tried this move on this team in this series several times and it has not worked. The Yotes will let him move off the boards and go up to the blue line but they will not let him, or anyone for that matter, drive off the half wall to the top of the house and then down the slot. It just aint gonna happen. In both games where the Hawks scored to tie it up, they did so because they had the extra guy the Coyotes could not defend. I agree with HH, at this point it's time to just stop sending a pile of skill over the boards on the power play hoping it's going to work. The goal was not Kane's fault and with the way the team was playing, it was inevitable the Yotes were going to score.

    I think there are only two ways the Hawks will score on Smith. One way is to get a deflected shot on net, or move the puck quickly and get a shot off before Smith can correct. The second thing there is what they currently seem incapable of doing. Torres is suspended indefinitely and per his request, the hearing was moved to Friday. This is likely going to be a big suspension, but who cares really? He did his part. He destroyed one of the elite players in the league and the Hawks responded with a whimper. The Hawks had better sack up before the next game because you can guarantee that Phoenix will bring more of the same if not ratchet it up ANOTHER notch.

  • In reply to BigJack:

    I thought Hammer was good up until that last play (he screwed up). He made some huge defensive plays throughout the game, and has delivered a few of the biggest hits of the series.

    With Leddy, I would be severely thinking about sitting him this next game based on what I have seen this series and especially last night. Give Lepisto his spot (which Q screwed the pooch on because of playing him so little during his tenure on the Hawks) and see what happens. Olsen should stay and see more ice.

    Keith and Seabs are out of gas, plain and simple. Q is getting out coached because he refuses to understand his players and over-use them at the wrong times. Moving Mayers between Kane and Brunette would have made more sense as that line was a bright red target for the Yotes to terrify physically.

    Call up Hayes, put Kruger back with Sharp and Stalberg, keep the 3rd line as it is now, and go with Toews, Kane, Hayes. We need big bodies, we need traffic in front, and Hayes can get there.

    No more power-play lines, just roll them as they are.

    Lepisto in for Leddy, and insert some passion into the breath of this team. 4th game prediction: we see the revival of Captain Serious.

    Peace out to Torres!

  • Agreed on Hammer's turnover that led to the winner, absorb the hit and protect the puck! Also what has not been mentioned is when he shot the puck at Doan after the whistle, leading to the 4 on 4 and both Coyote's goals in rapid succession. Stupid call by the refs but a dumb play by Hammer. Keith had a better game but was caught watching the puck again on the second goal instead of finding the open man (Whitney). Also he hit the post on a wide open net, with Smith down early AGAIN, when it was still 1-0.

    Crawford good but not good enough, bad rebound control and an inexcusable one in OT, reminded me of Kane's cup winner.

    Looks like Saad may get a chance now, interesting to see where Q puts him. Better take the next one..

  • Anyone wanna trade opponents? WTF!?

    I hear you Vegas and believe that my team has a similar issue-- If we don’t score three goals, we lose. My series is all but over and the frustration in watching it is like none in recent memory. If you had given me the stats for games 1,3 and 4 before this series began, I would have pointed to those as the games we likely would have won. Unfortunately, that hasn’t been the case and we dropped all three. I know Rinne has been good....real good, but I just think my guys just aren’t as hungry as they should be and that has more to do with it than anything. It’s kinda depressing to watch. It’s also do or die time tomorrow so I guess we'll see if there is any difference in their play now that the season could be ending. Hopefully they will drag this thing back to the Joe for another game. Magic 8 Ball says: Outlook not so good.

    I’m not sure how much differently things would have gone had we ended up with the Yotes and you guys with the Preds. Looks like we are suffering at the hands of similar foes.

    Ps. I didn’t get to see too much of last night’s game but heard enough about what happened at the UC to cringe. Hope Hossa is able to return for you guys. Sounded brutal.

    Good luck!

  • In reply to OneTeam:

    The Hawks and Wings want to play the same game as do the Preds and Yotes. While the Yotes continue to be nothing but a pile of sand in the gears of every team they play, the Preds have taken a step forward and adde talent. I don't think you team lacks hunger one team as much as I think they lack the ability to keep staying one step ahead of younger teams. The Preds don't fear Franzen, they abuse him. But to your question, no thanks in switching!

  • Well, One Team not to beat my breast but … I did tell you so.
    Too bad, unlike some many 'hawk fans I do not harbor any animosity towards the Red Wings. They actually play hockey the way it should be played and I respect that. Age does have a way though …

    Wings will go down with a fight … Babcock won't have it any other way.

  • So guys, late to the dance and not much else to add except that I'm on the coaching and GMing soap box again. SB has built a team that can't win in the playoffs and hired a coach who's fundamental approach to the game no longer works in the NHL playoffs and, one who is being thoroughly out-coached in this series. This team lacks so many of the hockey fundamentals, it is a joke.

    They are being thoroughly manhandled by the 'yotes forecheck and have absolutely no answer. Weak clearing attempts, no forecheck, can't complete two consecutive passes, no zone breakout, no zone entry, and soft, soft, soft all around play.

    The D was dreadful last night, Seabrook excepted. They've had the piss pounded out of them and are recoiling into submission. They are clearly hesitant to retrieve pucks and I can't blame them.

    The 'hawks forwards are flying the zone and doing the loopty loop ice capades once again. Sounds all to familiar.

    Superior talent wins in the regular season, superior system wins in the playoffs and that's what we're seeing here. Unless they sack up and show a little more heart it's over soon. Thing is, I don't think they have enough left.

    (Now back to the Flyers, Pens. Seven goals so far in the first period. Save percentages hovering in the mid 700s. Unbelievable! I've seen better defensive play in river hockey.)

  • In reply to fourfeather:

    I mean this to be an objective post, not a refutation. To me, SB has not really "built" anything yet. He inherited a team that won the cup and his first order of business was to blow it up. We have not yet seen all the players he has traded for in picks and prospects. We can certainly rate several of his free agency signings as "busts", but looking at the length of contracts, I interpreted this season from the start as a "placeholding" season wherein the goal was going to be, stay competitive, continue to improve the cap by not taking big gambles and continue to develop prospects. Whether the vision of Stan/Scotty will get this team where it needs to be remains to be seen.

    As for Q, nothing on this blog really can be said except that he is an idiot. After this season, I will be happy to see him go. Despite that, when I look at all the comments we have made this year, not only is Q not the right coach, but neither is his roster the right team for the kind of game we want to see. Some of their best hockey this year has come when a top skill player is out. I hate to say it, but any top line that has two of Kane/Toews/Hossa/Sharp but does not have one of a guy like Shaw is not going to dominate, especially against a team like the Yotes. I want to see Q go after this season but it will change nothing if the lineup does not evolve further. Who needs to go is a discussion best left for later this summer.

    So it looks like Saad is in tonight. He's got a little size to him I guess, but this seems like a big gamble. I said the second game in Phoenix was a must win, and the game from the other night is exactly why I felt that way. I felt from the start of this series the Hawks would need to win AT LEAST two games in Phoenix. Tonight, IMO, is a must win game. If they go back to Phoenix down two games, the only thing left to decide will be whether the Yotes wrap up in five or six.

  • I can see what your saying, Vegas, but my contention is that he used placeholders last year when he was up against the cap. This past year—and I was one who thought he did well—he did not do anything to improve this team in spite of his efforts and more cap space. What I see now is a Bowmanesque team with too many soft, but skilled, euros and a lack of grit. While he has tried to address that lack of grit from within he hasn't succeeded in improving this team to any significant extent. I might argue that the Pisani's, Johnson's, Dowell's and Campoli's, had more grit than anything he's brought in except for Shaw.

    His rich get richer contracts and extensions have set this team up for several years to have the two-tier rosters we're now looking at.

    I also agree that these topics are better left for the off-season. Since that will be soon, I'm just getting a head start!

    Hopefully they rally around Hoss and play the hockey they are capable of playing tonight.

  • Hope Saad can provide a spark, but I think the better move would have been Hayes, need his big frame wreaking havoc in front of Smith. Frolik needs to continue his strong play from last game (and finish!). Shoot the puck Kane and get some traffic in Smith's face. Roll the lines and the D Q! Can't have a 4 minute game again from Olsen or whoever is the last D on the depth chart tonight.

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