The Blackhawks suffered their 5th loss last night to the Anaheim Ducks. Coming into the game without the services of Hossa and Sharp again, I didn't really have too much hope for a win. I mean, from the lips of Q himself, both wingers were ready, the team is just taking it easy. From what I have gathered up until this point, the Hawks need a reason to play, and they have won games because they wanted it more than the other guys. That just doesn't seem to be the case these days.
This is not cause for panic though, it is actually a good sign from my point of view. Namely, because I still think the Hawks win when the season is on the line against the Ducks and maybe anyone else in the West. It is still LA that scares me the most.
I am going to sound a little contradictory for a second, because that was how I saw the first period. Specifics of play aside, the Hawks looked like the better team for the first half of the game. They seemed to accomplish this while missing important passes by a mile, standing completely still at some points while Anaheim moved the puck, and showing horrible timing on big plays that were generated. Even without the inner fight to win, it seemed like the Hawks were still generating the bulk of the momentum, they just had no interest in converting.
Eventually, the Ducks physically beat any thoughts the Hawks had of winning out of their brains, and the Hawks just kind of said okay. I don't want to look too far into this game, or the 4 prior losses for that matter. I think the Hawks have hit a patch of hockey where they are not 100% and have lost an edge. Nothing about this team, and the team we saw a month earlier is the same. We will see that team before the season ends. That doesn't mean that there aren't points to talk about.
- If the Hawks power-play wasn't slumping with the rest of their game, the Hawks might have dug out 2 more wins from the 5 losses. Last night, it finally connected when Kane said enough already. Again, I think their timing is off. I also think that Leddy should get more nods at the first unit to prepare him better for the playoffs.
- About that Patrick Kane guy. He skated more than any other player on the ice last night, and he wasn't completely useless. Really, can we talk enough about how stellar his play has been this year?
- And really, can we talk enough about getting him on a better line, with a center who wins face-offs, and who can get him the puck? Apparently not, because I haven't seen anything changing. Q really likes to ride whatever seems to be hot. The problem is that when that luck runs out, he doesn't adapt to the situation, and make the difficult moves. I honestly cannot believe that the lines have been essentially the same up until this point. I have hopes for change when Hossa and Sharp come back. We shall see.
- BTW, it won't be tomorrow against the Wings. Neither winger is making the trip.
- Jeremy Morin however, will be making the trip. Q or SB, or both have finally given into reality a little bit. Morin is someone who can skate with the Hawks, and generate offense. Where he will fit into the mix, and whether or not it means Hayes is out I have yet to hear about.
- In case you missed it, I saw Seabrook stand completely still on about 3 separate cases in which he almost cost the Hawks a goal last night. I am seriously worried about what the hell could cause such reckless play from an otherwise dominant player. To make matters worse, he is not the only Blackhawk doing it these days. Standing still has cost them big in the past 10 games.
- The 3rd line is really off their mark lately. I still think it might be trade possibilities. The Hawks need their aggressive forecheck like yesterday. A lot of the success this line, and the team has had, came from a 2 man aggressive forecheck. I haven't seen it in a while besides from the Frolik/Toews/Saad line, who also happen to be the only thing worth watching at 5-on-5 in the past week.
While the Hawks begin to lose some games, falling back to reality, the hole at that 2nd line center spot just seems to grow bigger. I fear the Hawks have been playing too long with an ignorance to this truth, and are very close to missing the opportunity to fix it. I get it, there are about 3 players in the farm battling it out for this spot. What I would like to see is 1 or 2 of them getting a shot here and there. Let's see what they can do now, because this could be the reason for not going deep in the playoffs.
Whether it be trade or prospect, it seems like the time to move is now. I have been a supporter of SB's through most of his time with the Hawks. It is time for him to make a move that requires getting off the couch. Playing it safe was fine, but the Hawks have a shot this year. A shot I think they need to take. Matters are made worse with Bolland's horrible performance in the roll.
The Ducks took advantage of a mistake made by the Toews line and the Swedish connection last night with their first goal. It was a misplayed puck and a bad bounce which happens from time to time. As we have said, a team fighting for pucks, providing support, and digging hard creates their own luck. This has not been the Hawks lately.
On the game winner, the Ducks didn't do anything special, it was Bolland's lack of presence that handed the game over. Even Kane was noticeable in his own end, which might be the best thing to come out of this little mess. Again, I feel good about the Hawks overall. They are better than what they have given lately, and it still took a deflected shot off Hjalmer's stick for the 2nd place team to beat the Hawks in 60.
There is also the looming question about goaltending in Chicago. Emery suffered his first official loss last night, even though you can't totally blame him for the 2 goals. Crow is getting the start tomorrow. Does there need to be a clear #1 going into the playoffs, and who would that be? I have to say that when it comes down to it, his ability to see and handle the puck better makes Emery the wiser choice right now, not that playing 2 goalies is not an option in the playoffs (but I can't recall anyone winning that way). Again, a drop in the overall team play has forced a reality check in the goaltender position. I am not saying it is disaster, just that it warrants attention now.
Filed under: Game Recap