And the Prize for Best Forecheck Goes to.......

And the Prize for Best Forecheck Goes to.......

The Chicago Blackhawks suffered in a few areas last night against the LA Kings. In the end, the right team won the game behind a barrage of constant pressure. The Hawks had the lead 3 times, but also gave up 2 late goals to a team who had just gone 150 minutes without a goal, eventually surrendering 5 against in just 2 periods of play.

The pucks just weren't bouncing for the home team, not that any line except for the 1st was doing anything to help turn that tide. You knew it was bad when Hjalmer missed an opportunity to poke check a puck off of Doughty's stick as he charged towards the net past a diving Oduya and every other red sweater on the ice. This allowed the goal that sealed the Hawks fate in my eyes. Seconds after Kaner had put a big one up on the board, allowing a goal with .5 seconds left in the period is just not gonna buy you a win.

IMO, the goal was more controversial than it should have been, because King did change the direction of his skate to kick that one in. But, it does not matter. The Kings gave more of the individual efforts you want to see from your team, and they combined to give the best effort as a unit. Their goals were the result of giving that extra inch, which usually leads to a little bit of luck.

In that same period earlier, Hjamler was the victim of a really awkward bounce which allowed Kopitar to rip a wrist shot past Crawford's high glove (a common occurrence last night), which helped number 4 and his partner each to a -3 on the night. That's when you know things are not going so well. Oddly enough, Keith and Seabrook were each a +3 on the night. Huh?

By the end of the game, the Hawks were outshot 36 to 25, and were never able to gain control of their puck possession game. Besides the 1st period when the Kings looked flat, the Hawks never really seemed to be in stride. What gives?

Let's break down some reasons:

  • The Hawks lost really important face-offs, and even Toews was guilty of this in some big ways. Next to lucky bounces and a constant forecheck pressure, the Kings biggest alley was timely face-off wins
  • The Hawks out hit the Kings 21 to 20. Maybe it was because LA had the puck the majority of the game, but I think it has more to do with the Hawks trying to match the physical play of a rough and tough team, which caused the Hawks to not play their own game, eventually leading to a disorientated team. I have said this before, and I will say it over and over; The Hawks are not a physical team, and they don't need to be in order to win games. They just have to be able to take it, which they didn't, as seen in a few stupid retaliation penalties.
  • The Hawks special teams could have saved this game, but instead they only helped to puke up the win.
  • The 3rd line. This might be the single biggest reason for the loss. The 3rd line was the worst it has been all year. Were they injured, was Shaw not at %100, or were they told to go out of their way to be physical which kept them from getting pucks deep? Or, did the Kings just have the solution for the most consistently annoying line on the Hawks this year? Were they just out forechecked? Whatever it was, Stalberg was the most invisible he has been all year. (Honestly, I smell trade, which might point to not being yourself on the ice. With Iginla in town, and already talks between the 2 teams, IDK, Stalberg might be bait)
  • We could also throw Crawford into the list of reasons the Hawks fell last night. 2 of the Kings goals were blasts past his high glove side. It would have taken a very quick glove to stop those, and Crow just doesn't have one. The Doughty surge towards the net should have ended when he put the puck right into Crow's chest, but he gave up a rebound allowing for the puck to find its way behind him. Holding onto that initial shot would have probably given the Hawks a win, even though they didn't really deserve it.

Good things:

  • Seabook won a race against Brown, and was a +3 on the night. They didn't exactly face the best the Kings had last night, but Keith and Seabs looked decent enough for mentioning.
  • Frolik. Seeing Fro put up the 1st two goals for the Hawks in his first chance at sustained time on a scoring line was very encouraging. Even when the Kings were firing on all cylinders, they did not have enough to hold Toews,Saad, and Frolik at bay. Only 1 of the goals was not the result of this line's constant pressure.

Frolik's success on the top line points to options for the coaching staff. This points to having Hossa on that line as unnecessary, which allows me to once again ask that Bolland and Hossa become the "3rd" line. I do not think we have everyone in the most optimal places yet. It seems that when the going gets tough, the so called chemistry falls apart. The current 3rd line has been great, but you have to see how they don't make all of the sense in the world. Frankly, I would like to see some changes before the playoffs come around. If a trade comes, I might get my wish, I just wish that it doesn't involve the loss of Stalberg, even if Iginla on a line with Kane makes me salivate. (I know, they are both right wings).

The Hawks have been the strongest when they provided relentless support. Last night was not one of those games. I think there are a couple of moves that could allow players to be better complimented by their line mates, which would allow for more sustained support and pressure.

This was the last time the Hawks will face the Kings until maybe in the playoffs. Anaheim fell to the Sharks last night, which allows the Hawks to keep their lead if they can follow last night up with some play worthy of their place in the standings. I'm not exactly sure what we saw last night, but it has me worried about a future matchup with the Kings come June. The forecheck delivered by them in the second half of the game was something made of nightmares for any team not cheering for them.

Filed under: Game Recap

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  • Nice wrap and I had many similar thoughts. My biggest thought this morning was that that was an entirely winnable game. The Hawks have caught many breaks early in this this season and what I saw last night further cements my beliefs that the harder working team will get the most breaks. What scares me about last night was that I don't believe the Kings played balls out for one game the way the Avs, Oilers and arguably, the Ducks have and they still won. But on the plus side, this gives me some optimism the Hawks now have a pretty accurate picture of what the Kings can bring, and I think the Hawks can beat that. Not easily and not if they aren't healthy, but entirely possible.

    As for trades, I'm less excited about Iginla, but primarily because I feel like inability to win face offs is going to hurt this team really bad down the stretch. When Sharp comes back, I doubt he will be 100% and the same goes for Hossa. They will still help enormously to fight to get the puck back when they lose draws but it's going to create a lot of work. LA is a team that gets under your skin, even more so then a team like the Yotes and for a stretch last night, I thought they absolutely owned Kane and had him wanting to break something. The team overall needs to learn to deal with that better.

    With nobody really gaining ground on them, I don't mind seeing a couple of close losses to keep them hungry.

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