After being dumped in the SO of a 2nd game in as many nights. This would make the Hawks winless in the past 3 games after putting together a beyond impressive circus trip. They have brought us back down to Earth, and as Vegas points out in the previous post, maybe that's not such a bad thing. You could probably make the case that what we have seen is due to fatigue and mental exhaustion, but then again, Q doesn't like his team practicing much, so maybe they should be more ready. Or, maybe the lack of practices is a problem?
Either way you look at it, this was a very sloppy game for the Hawks, which followed a very weak performance in general against the Wild. Sure, they probably win the Dallas game on most nights, and very well should have, but what we have seen since leaves less to be admired than what we are used to. And still, the Hawks stand atop the NHL, so whatever. Again, maybe they need this. My question might be then, who in particular needs this?
Since I have been beyond busy lately, I haven't been able to mention the whole Pirri debacle. I know many are probably tired of my rants on situations pertaining to Q's development of the prospects, but come on, this can't go without comment. I'm trying to find the common thread among players that Q decides are not worth the time. He seems to likes players who play both sides of the ice, but then you look at how Frolik was pissed on for so long, as was Versteeg, how other's weren't for doing nothing defensively, and as the list goes, on, you realize there isn't any logic here. Kruger plays defensively sound, but his offensive sense isn't very good. Shaw got a lot of chances, but a closer look shows it had more to do with his goal production. Simply, Q doesn't very much like developing the younger players, unless they are players like Kane. Hell, he didn't even want to give Saad a real chance until Carcillo got injured and he didn't have an option.
He must really not like Pirri though, because he didn't have an option when he sent him packing. On a game where Handzus and Shaw are out, he opted to send Pirri to Rockford and was okay letting 2 players who weren't centers take that role, and then giving Bollig 12 minutes. Shocker, it was one of the worst games we have seen all year. The only light in that mess was seeing Morin earn a spot and a goal, and again with very little ice. In the big picture, Q likes to go the safe route of his veterans. I think this in large part to his inability to make real decisions and adapt to player's abilities. Dave Tippett said, "I coach the players I have," when responding to the change in how the Yotes are playing this year. I don't think Q does this, but his roster is so unbelievable, he doesn't have to. In the end, he wants Handzus over Pirri. I think this is a shame, because we already know what Zus will do, but Pirri has the opportunity to become much better and have more energy. On top of that, Kaner's worst game this year have come when Pirri was not on his line. That is not to say Pirri has been good every night.
Back to last night's game:
Yeah, that was some sloppy hockey. Maybe the Hawks need to practice or something? The effort was better than the night before, but the passes weren't, and the puck management was plain ugly most of the time. When they did connect, Hiller was pretty stellar, and even though the Hawks probably had no right winning that game, Hiller saved his team a couple of times. Because, yeah, the Hawks offense is still deadly on the worst of nights.
At the other end was Raanta's story, which was far from great. If Q had any options right now, I'm sure that would have been Raanta's last for quite a long time. Thankfully, Q doesn't have an option, which is the only way any newbies will get some freedom to screw up once and a while. Raanta was obviously out of it, and not feeling at all comfortable. He was leaning the wrong way on shots, not showing much comfort around the puck, and not following the play all too great. He did however manage some pretty strong saves, and matched a very strong goaltender at the other end after the final 65 minutes. Raanta was then awful in the SO. Oh well, watch the tape, work on the obvious concerns, bounce back and start getting used to NHL hockey. Better now than later.
Speaking of screw-ups, I counted 4 blatantly ugly ones from Seabrook, which include what should have been causing the game winner for the Ducks. Thankfully, the refs missed the fact that a tired Seabrook crossed checked his guy from behind, sending him hurling towards Raanta, and only saw the impact. While on that subject, and not that this game was without bad plays from almost everyone, but there were 2 important moments in the game when Handzus blew a play big time, because of his inability to keep up. One of them was really bad, behind the Duck's net, and he got away with a penalty after trying to stop the player blowing past him. This resulted in a rush into the Hawks zone that nearly ended up in our net. Just saying Q. Pirri would have sat 2 games for that.
The Hawks are lucky that the Ducks were just about as equally sloppy and uninterested in winning this game. Save for some great plays by Keith and Hjalmer, most of the Hawks D was hard to watch. What really has me concerned is the PK. Again, maybe it's time for some more practice here Q. And again, why in the world has Steeger not seen any time here? It is just pathetic to watch, especially when compared to last year's brilliance. It has no energy, and is simply a complacent approach to stopping PP goals against. They are giving their opponents all the time and space they need to set things up. This was not the case last year, and yeah, I think Frolik is missed too much. But, Sharp and Versteeg can bring that back if Q decides to wake up and do something about it. Sure, the goaltending hasn't helped matters at all, but their opponents are getting some really great looks.
Uhm, Kane and Toews over 24 minutes, uhm, please don't do this, especially during the 2nd game in as many nights. That is how injuries to your best players happen.
A game that displays 2 of the best teams in the NHL should have been more fun to watch.
I don't really have much else to say. Ben Smith was playing center all night, and did a pretty darn good job of it IMO, but they are missing Shaw right now. Getting Bickell back couldn't hurt either. Looking forward, the Hawks don't have an easy schedule. They are going to have to want to end December on the top to make it happen, and play some tough games to do it. We all know they have every ingredient needed to be at the top, but as Vegas said, maybe it wouldn't hurt to get a reality check here.
Filed under: Game Recap