All good things must come to an end. Lucky for us, this good thing is really not all that important to the bigger picture good thing of winning in the playoffs. The streak does however, point to many reasons why the Blackhawks will be a very feared team at that time and place in the season. They went half the season without a loss which is far beyond any of our dreams could have ever hoped for, and I find more in the statement of its end, than I do if it had continued.
The beauty of such an accomplishment speaks volumes about this group of hockey players. It provides a perspective to the game of hockey, and to the future of the Blackhawks that helps to understand just how impossible a run like that is in today's game, and of just how good this group of committed players is.
It ended with a bang, which is just about right. I can't really see the Hawks losing it in any other way. If the game was close, it just seems like they would have found a way to keep it going. Nope, a blow out was all it would take.
So how did it happen?
Let me start by saying that I watched the Colorado feed, and boy were they excited about this win. When there isn't much else to be excited about in your season, I can see why. The problem for me, was that they focused so much on how great the Avs were playing, and how it was sending a message to all involved that said the Avs can beat anyone if they play hard and smart. I do not want to take anything away from the Avs, they played a great, hard, and smart game, but I think it was the Hawks play that should be the focus of this loss, rather than the winning teams.
Let me also throw in this: The Avs were about as dirty as you can be while still getting away with it. They knew the Hawks were hurting, and they tried to add insult to injury. It worked, and the Hawks ended up down a man more often (wtf), because the Avs did it after plays or in less important areas of the ice.
It wasn't the awesome play of the Avs that led to the outcome of this game, it was the terrible play of the Hawks, which was pretty harsh, and hard to watch. It was to the point of almost unbelievable given what we had to come to expect. What I think we saw, was a hurting team, who was tired, and out of resources for the moment. Granted, the Avs are a team that can actually skate with the Hawks, maybe only 1 of a few, but I think the Hawks usually have an easier time with teams who try and play that game, rather than teams like Phoenix.
The Hawks were sloppy, seemingly uninterested, missing a key player, and probably skating 3 key players in the least who are not currently healthy. The lines had to see some adjustment on top of that. I thought the suggestion of Carcillo to the first line, and Saad to the 2nd would have done better to keep consistency among the combos. Rather than what we actually saw.
Again, this really just speaks to the difficulty of what the Hawks had accomplished. Staying as healthy as they had to this point was key in the performance. Playing as a cohesive unit was also key, and that just wasn't the case last night. Having stellar goaltending along with hard fighting defense maybe the largest reason, and this was also missing from last night's game. The good news is, the 24 games prior to last night are the norm for this team IMO, and last night was a glitch. Glitches happen, and the Avs did their best to make that glitch happen on their watch.
I hope their big win does rejuvenate them and send them into a better 2nd half. I think the Avs have a lot to offer. Especially Duchene, who is a lot of fun to watch. The Colorado announcers were about to make love to him in this one, commenting on how he must be the fastest player in the league, blowing by the Hawks defense with such ease. Yes, he is fast, and an amazing player, he always has been, but the Hawks defense was pretty stagnant all game. Seabrook practically stood completely still on 2 goals scored by his guy. It wasn't how fast they were, it was how slow we were. They also completely ignored the speed of Stalberg whom I thought should have been given a little ice time to try and make something happen last night. He has a rare gift to generate something out of nothing, and Q rarely uses it appropriately
Stalberg, Shaw, Bickell, and Saad were the most aggressive players on the ice, and maybe they should have been leaned on a bit more to generate something in this one. Breaking up the 3rd line might have been a bad idea as well. Not once did Q throw them out as a unit, which is something I saw as a big mistake.
I do not think we need to look too far into this game though. I think we should look at it as a reminder of how awesome the season has been.
We could point at Crawford, but everyone has a bad game, and we all know he has been looking better than he actually is. Give him credit though, because he will respond well. He always does, he is a focused, hardworking individual who could have saved a few of those goals.
We could point harder at the defense that completely broke down in front of him. But, maybe it was more of a wake-up call to the play of Keith and Seabrook this year. I think Keith has been pretty good, but his buddy Seabrook is playing in his worst season so far. This might just have been a reason to talk about it more.
As I said, I don't think the line combos were utilized in the best way, but it was nothing to cry about. Again, I thought the 3rd line should have stayed intact, with that line eating up a little more of the minutes overall, especially in a game like that.
Maybe we should have called up a couple of Rockford guys given the injury situation. Bollig might not be our best option last night, and neither was Carcillo on the 3rd line. Don't we have guys in Rockford that can skate a bit better? Hell, Mayers would have given Q more options in the game than Bollig.
The hidden variable last night was how bad the Hawks were at the dot. They lost a great majority of their face-offs, which also coincided with the loss of Sharp. On Sharp, I hope we get him back sooner than later, because even with a rough start, his skills are highly valued on this roster.
I want to end by congratulating the Hawks on accomplishing something great! This has been a special moment in my hockey watching career. Now lets make this year even better.
Knock, Knock, it's Anaheim knocking on our party door. Back to business.
Filed under: Game Recap