A Flat Homecoming for the Blackhawks

A Flat Homecoming for the Blackhawks

It is hard to come home after being gone so long and focus on the right things. Distractions are everywhere, especially when one has been gone long enough to let distractions build. Maybe that's why the homecoming performance last night was so flat. Yes, the Hawks picked up a point against a really tough team to play, continuing their 13 game point streak, but 9 times out of 10, based on play, they lose this one in regulation.

As the clock wound down in the few final minutes of the game I really thought the Hawks were going to steal one. Given that they had entered the 3rd period with a 2-1 lead, I was hoping for a surge from the guys in red. Because, in all fairness the lead should have been the other way around. When you have a lead late, and you probably shouldn't, I expect a little energy to try and keep it that way, especially with the way the Hawks schedule looks right now. You had a day off, and are looking at 2 days off. Just give the extra inch and walk away with 2 points for the home crowd.

The game was everything you would expect from a trap game. The Ducks are very good in their own zone, which served as an example for how much work the Hawks need in theirs, and as I said, the Hawks were distracted. The game was kind of slow goings for a while until a huge PK performed by the Hawks gave them a little boost.

Kruger was a again huge in this role, winning face-offs, providing pressure, and killing valuable seconds with the puck. Kruger has more than proven his worth to this club.

This PK also saw a huge glove save by Crawford after Seabrook provided a deadly turnover behind the net. What I like about this save the most, is that Crow looked like he was daring Perry to go top shelf, glove side. In fact, Crow looked like he was controlling shots all game by putting himself in the right positions to make the saves. And, he was following the puck better than I have seen all year. Very good signs.

Quick note on Oduya, who leads the Hawks and is near the top of the league in plus minus. He has done this while playing some of the hardest minutes, and a lot of them for the Hawks. Just saying.

Saad is still a beast, he had a great drive late in the first. More on his beastieness later. Can we start calling him Beastie Boy?

The Ducks scored early on a PP in the 2nd. You might not be surprised to find out that Seabrook accidentally tapped this one into his own goal. Given his play all night, you might be surprised to find out he had more ice-time than Oduya and Hjalmer.

The Hawks received their own PP shortly after and generated a decent amount of chances, but nothing quality enough. They continued control of the play following the PP, but again, couldn't get enough quality on the Duck's goaltender Fasth, who along with strong defensive play in their own zone, was denying any 2nd chances.

Then the most important play of the evening came when Bickell, who is leading the Hawks in hits, destroyed Getzlaf with a very clean and hard hit. He was immediately accosted for his hit, forced into a boxing match (which he got the upper hand in), and the Hawks were awarded a power-play for it. It took 20 seconds for the Hawks to score, after Leddy drove a one-timer past Fasth as Stalberg did his job making it hard to see the puck in front of the net.

Not too much longer Brandon, "The Beastie Boy" Saad drove hard to the net yet again and performed a diving shot for all of our entertainment. Maybe Fasth got caught being a spectator on this play like everyone else, because he couldn't control the puck, and Toronto eventually said it crossed the line for a good goal. It was close, but I think Toronto threw this one to the Hawks because Anaheim was more responsible for knocking the net off. I wouldn't have been upset if they ruled in a no-goal, but I will take it just the same. 2-1 Hawks.

They almost held on.

The Ducks answered with a very strong shift, drawing 2 penalties in the action because of the Hawks issues in their own zone.

The dreaded 5-on-3 ensued, with Frolik being one of the players in the box.

Hjalmarsson was huge here, becoming a second goaltender for Crow, and batting pucks out of harms way with a very active body and stick. It was a huge kill, and worthy of buying the win.

The game heated up a bit here, Hjalmer ended up saving another goal because he is just always in the right place these days, and then Shaw rammed the Duck's goaltender pushing the Hawks back on the kill. Crow would make another huge save here.

It is often the little things that count, and the Hawks were not the ones getting the upper hand here. Besides providing one of their more physical games, not surprising against such a physical team, the Hawks were not winning the little battles like they have in previous games, and they just didn't seem to have the speed.

Kaner was also pretty silent in this one. Again, not surprising against a physical team. Anaheim continued to pressure, and the Hawks kind of let them, terrible play in their own zone ended up taking the win away from them and Crawford. Guess which line it was? Yep, that awesome 2nd line. Missed coverage and bad communication allowed the Ducks to tie the game late. It was something they worked hard for.

Wouldn't you know it, Saad would draw another penalty because of his beastieness, and the PP would follow into OT, where they eventually found themselves on another PP. 3 minutes of 4-on-3 in OT should have been enough to grab the extra point, but it just wasn't in our guys for this one. A shootout would determine Anaheim the victors.

Given the play of the game, you have to be happy with a point in this one. We can also assume that Anaheim will continue to be trouble all year long.

Filed under: Game Recap

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  • Thanks for the wrap HH. Maybe having to watch the Ducks feed colored my take a bit, but they were not calling the game like it was an even contest. Visibly, the Hawks were taking their foot off the gas at the end and that may have contributed something to the loss by letting the Ducks get some control of the puck. Still, I can't fathom why Bolland skated away from Cogliano. Basically, between Bolland's collision and the next little squirmish along the boards, it turned into a busted play and cluster for the Hawks that left a man wide open. Neither of the Ducks goals, in my opinion, came from "forcing" their will on the Hawks.

    Perhaps it's meaningless, but I look at context. The Ducks are a big, physical team. They are not quite the "anti team" like the Yotes who live solely to prevent other teams from establishing any game flow, but they are not a puck control team. They did not beat the Hawks into submission by any means and Bickells hit on Getzlaff was a thing of beauty. In context, I think the Hawks were able to do much more of what they wanted and were not really deterred by the Ducks strengths. The PP is slowly drifting back to last year's bad habits. Lots of movement, but not enough pushing through the box to screen the goalie. I'm not overly disappointed by this game and I see no reason why the Hawks should "fear" playing the Ducks again.

  • In reply to VegasHawksFan:

    You are right, given the way the Ducks play, the Hawks did pretty well. They just needed to give a little more, and play sounder hockey in their own end to win.

    But, overall, and I probably should have said this, the ability that the Hawks had (if they wanted it) showed a lot of building over last year when a team could make them play into their own styles. This year looks like a different story.

    A lot of comparisons to the 2010 year, but I still haven't seen the type of domination they had back then in this year's play so far. The depth is there, but not the chemistry yet. Yet.

  • In reply to Hostile Hawk:

    Something I saw floating around a few sites was a train of thought that the Hawks are a puck control team and they should play that way for an entire game. For the most part, I didn't think the Ducks were pounding the Hawks into submission at all and that the second goal by the Ducks was really just a matter of blown coverage. It happens. I agree the chemistry is not there entirely yet, but at the least, I've seen more "team" play in this short start then I have seen out of them in the last two seasons combined. Eventually, they are going to hit a skid somewhere and it will be a good thing, provided they stay together as a team. If we go back to Kane, Sharp and Toews each doing their own thing, that will not be a plus.

  • Any time you guys wanna lose one in regulation, be my guest! Lol!

    Nice run (so far) Hawks. I am beyond impressed with their readiness to begin the season, the play of Kane and Crawford and the myriad of ways the Hawks find to win games. (or at least take a point home with them)

    For the first time in my adult life, I have enjoyed watching the Hawks. (Well, ith the exception of one game this season) Its just good hockey plan and simple. Cant hate that!

    Anyone have a chance to catch our new guy Brunner? The kid is great!

  • In reply to OneTeam:

    I haven't seen a lot of Wings games yet OT, but I plan to try and catch a couple.

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