It would seem that the Blackhawks have a pattern. Once again, they entered the shootout tied at 2 with a team they should have beaten in regulation, and this was after giving up a lead in the 3rd. There is a lot of talk going around town about the Hawks less than energetic start to the season. I am inclined to chalk it off to the Cup hangover, or whatever you want to call it. As a team, I am not worried. I think they get their flow going by December. That doesn't mean I am inclined to let the coaching staff off of the hook, which I have rarely done with this particular staff.
The game itself had far and few things to be admired. The defensive end was extremely rough, coughing up terrible turnovers from the start of the 1st, all the way until Florida's tying goal. Keith and Seabrook were yet again the main culprits, both of which made numerous mistakes in both ends, 2 of which resulted in goals against.
It seemed as though the Panthers knew the right buttons to push, and they pushed an aggressive forecheck behind what appeared to be a speedy offensive transition game. In fact, this seemed to be the case for both teams, as it was the offense in this game that took charge.
While I think the Hawks had the upper hand in this game, outshooting the Panthers, generating more quality chances, making the Panthers block a great deal of shots, this game could have easily gone in Florida's direction, especially given the missed penalty shot.
This is where the Hawks currently are; in a frame of mode and of mind to lay back, keep up with the other team's play and let their talent get the extra inch in the end.
Because, while it felt like the Panthers were getting awfully close to winning this game, Saad and Kane both missed on huge breakaway opportunities which were generated from their superior skill. I guess you can say that both sides missed on burying some big opportunities, and the Hawks missed a few more.
Crawford had another strong performance, as did Hjalmarsson, who seems to be the only dependable top 4 defensemen on the team right now. Brookbank wasn't bad, maybe even solid, but I feel more strongly about Kostka's efforts so far. At this point it might be well over time to not carry 8 defensemen anymore. This could open up a chance for Morin to get some time as well. This is the time to do it.
It is October after all, and this is the time to give things and players a chance. And this is kind of the point in what we have seen so far. I don't think we have seen enough of, or the right kind of experimentation from Q. I have also been a little surprised to see him get so frustrated and animated about the early performances of his team that is 6-1-2. Absolutely, the Hawks are not playing amazing hockey that is up to their standards, but they are getting points that will factor in later, and they need some space to grow or just regain some momentum right now.
They have had the shortest break between seasons of any team before them, and this follows a compact schedule. The shortened season was good for them last year, but now it is hurting them.
This was just an example of another lackluster performance against a team who is trying hard to beat the defending champs. In the end, they pulled it out, thanks to 2 nice shootout goals from Toews and Sharp. In the middle, there were things to be excited about, and a lot of concerns, but who's keeping track.
The line distribution was a little better, and Pirri actually broke 10 minutes of ice-time. Bickell scored again! The top line was mostly dominant, and the 4th accomplished all we can ask for.
But, the 2nd line was probably the worst in terms of defensive zone play, which ended with them spending more time in the D-zone, than they did in the O-zone. Not good indeed. Aren't we playing someone on that line just so that doesn't happen?
What was maybe the biggest reason to get excited about future things to come, was how effective the Kruger/Shaw/Bickell line was. They have it in them to be an honest to god checking line, which could be used against other team's #2 or maybe even #1 lines. This could allow our 2nd line some more offensive opportunities, and some safety in getting Pirri some time between Sharp and Kane.
Filed under: Game Recap