Who Wants to Live Forever? The Blackhawks Streak is Ended.

Who Wants to Live Forever? The Blackhawks Streak is Ended.

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

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  • Yep, first one to comment on my own post.

    Question: Does anyone think that the line chemistry has been right? Has the streak and great play of individuals masked the fact that we don't necessarily have the right guys in the right place?

    Sharp's defensive play in his own zone has helped that 2nd line from being terrible there. Carcillo did not help this one bit.

    I will again suggest a move of Hossa to the 3rd line with Bolland.

    I think acquiring an actual center (not Shaw) for the 2nd line (or is that Sharp?), bringing Stalberg up here and such moves would improve the roster and add to the ability to roll 3 lines evenly.

    Thoughts?

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    I think you can chalk this one up to a fatigued team. Six games in nine nights and also the fact it was back to back against the same team. The Avs had fresher legs and as the game progressed they wore the Hawks down. Let the new streak begin!

  • Let's not forget the Hawks were playing at Denver altitude.... The Avs definitely have a little extra home-court advantage over everyone there.

    I, for one, am just as happy the streak is over. The Avalanche were playing like their lives were at stake -- full throttle, throwing caution to the wind... all-out Stanley Cup Finals intensity. The Hawks don't need to face that every night from every team. We can see it's already resulted in guys starting to get hurt. Hopefully the media circus will go away now, and the team can get back to just playing the game for what it is.

    I'm also glad at how it ended... to a relatively non-consequential team, not a rival... not a close game... Just obviously one of those flukey games where everything the Avs touched somehow found its way into the net. Those games happen to every team, and as well as the Hawks have played this season, their luck has been off-the-chart in that regard. Let's look no further than the Calgary game for proof of that (how many wide-open net opportunities did the Flames miss that night?!)

    All that said, congrats to the Hawks on an awesome run and the best start to a season EVER. Let's hope the intensity level stays up, and everyone stays healthy

  • In reply to iplagitr:

    Well said Guitar. It seemed inevitable to me that a non-consequential team would beat them, if not the Avs last week, likely the Oil today. I still think we will see a lot of teams bring their best game to "measure themselves" against the Hawks, but in less then a month now, teams need to decide whether they are contenders, or sellers of talent. Like you, I hope that the circus goes away.

    For once, I am not as concerned about the outright line by line chemistry. No matter what line guys are on, they are skating hard, standing up for each other and are playing a near Borg like style of hockey. What I am very concerned about, and I believe it had a lot to do with this game, is that the Hawks are not winning face offs. I'll consider this game an anomaly for Toews, but for Bolland, this is one very serious drawback to having him as second line center. He does not win faceoffs. Period. This will be a problem in playoffs and this is not going to be fixed by a trade in this season.

    If Bolland and Kruger cannot improve at taking faceoffs, then the team needs to find a way to negate that and get the puck back quickly after losing a draw. Once the Hawks control the puck, they usually do something with it and even within this last game that was true. Final bit of sour grapes before moving on, from Duchene, "This win shows we can play with any team". Really? If that's true, then what does being in 13th place show?

  • In reply to VegasHawksFan:

    To your point on face offs Vegas, you are right. Maybe, it hasn't been addressed enough. But, I would like to point to what the 3rd line has done there. Shaw has been arguably the worst at the dot (no surprise, he has no experience there), but his wingers have masked that to a great degree.

    Bickell and Stalberg are aggressive, big, and quick wings. They attack on the face off, and often win battles to 50-50 pucks, or even grab pucks initially won by the opponent.

    Kane is not doing this for Bolland, Sharp does on occasion. In the Avs game, Carcillo was switched out for Bickell, and Shaw's numbers dropped significantly.

    At the end of the day, I would like to see them address the center issue still. If we have Bollad and Kruger taking face offs, we probably need a natural center in that other spot. Not Shaw. And, I think the organization needs to think long and hard about Sharp for that 2nd line center job, or find one elsewhere (I think they are holding out for their prospects to take that role). Bolland can go back to the 3rd line where he most likely belongs (nothing against Bollie).

    While this loss is pretty much exactly what everyone is saying it was, it was also the first game where we saw the coaching staff have to make hard choices. Unfortunately, I am not so sure they made the right ones, and that worries me, even though I think the outcome would have been pretty similar.

    Bollig should not have been in, and Carcillo should not have been thrown on the 3rd line randomly like that. It hurt maybe the most reliable line on the team in terms of causing trouble and generating pressure.

  • In reply to iplagitr:

    I second that Guitar. Injury was becoming a real threat and now is a reality for the Hawks. Having this come to a pinnacle now allows for healing, regrouping, and maybe even some changes for the better.

    Well said.

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