My Trials and Tribulations of Q

My Trials and Tribulations of Q

Peeking my head out of the mountainous pile of educational work that is my life these days, I bring to you a post with ponderings of the Blackhawks and coach Q as of late.

How much have I missed? Well, we saw the Hawks drop some games, then win some important games, and then drop a downer last night in Detroit. They lost to a Red Wings team that didn't have half their team including one greatest player in the league and their star goaltender. There were many holes, but most of it comes down to work and effort from the Hawks, because puck support was nowhere to be seen.

So, why do the Hawks drop some games they shouldn't, thenvplay a great game against the Avs only to drop a point, and win against the Bruins and Ducks, only to drop a big game in Detroit? I get a lot of arguments when I point the finger at Q, but here we go.

Let me start by saying that I could care less about losing games in January, especially if they win in the playoffs. I do have perspective, and am optimistic. But, I'm a blogger and this what we do.

The ways in which the Hawks often find themselves in trouble are constant complaints of this blog, and for questioning the coaching going on. This brings me to what I think the best attribute of Q's coaching is. The atmosphere of calm. One of the greatest aspects of this team is their composure and ease towards dealing with pressure. I just don't think they feel it anymore, and Q has a lot to do with it. You have that to thank for the best 17 seconds in Hawks history. Q brings composure and trust in certain players.

This has a lot to do with why the Hawks drop insignificant games in January, only to raise their game against the Avs, Bruins and Ducks. So, what about yesterday? This was a big game, against a big foe, and a limited occurrence these days. Jump out to an early 2 goal lead against a struggling, injured team you want to beat, and then blow it. Not good.

Here's where you get into the real issues of this team, and why I find the best reason for Q's winning record to be the great rosters he has had the luck of coaching. When the effort is not there, and the roster isn't covering up the faults of this team, they are very vulnerable. I'm talking about a 4th line that hasn't done very well in puck possession at all, the low minutes or benching of players who thrive at puck possession. I'm talking about the plain horrible defensive positioning this team displays when their opponent can lead in puck possession, and the terrible lack of support from any line besides the Toews' line.

Not only was Q outcoached last night, as he often is against Babcock, but a minor league team out smarted and out hustled his allstar roster. Shaw and Saad were hustling, but they weren't moving the puck correctly, or going to the right areas of the ice to support the transition into the Wings zone. Why is this? Where is the coaching? Kane was swarmed every time he had the puck, because Babcock saw his linemates not opening up the ice correctly. The only way to handle Kane is to swarm him and take away all of his space that other teams give up easily. You might question Pirri's efforts, but he was always in the right place at the right time which didn't allow teams to do this.

I hate to gripe about Saad, because he is a monster of a player, as is Shaw, but intensity is nothing without head's up movements and going to the right areas of the ice at the right times.

One might expect the defensive positioning to be the strongest element of a team coached by a defensemen, but this is the Hawks worst characteristic, and the Wings also exploited that last night. They got pucks deep, and kept them there, having all day to set up their point, or wait for the Hawks to get out of position. Sure, this was exacerbated by Oduya's rough play lately, and especially last night, but it isn't only him, and his wingers could do him a favor by staying in the zone a little longer. There was one play where I saw Hossa flee the zone when Oduya had the puck, and the Wings noticed the Hawks were a man short in the zone and pounced. They ended up with a prime scoring chance as Hossa made his way back into the zone for the faceoff.

I saw support against the Ducks, but it was completely absent from last night's game. This is far too common of a theme, and if they play any team in the playoffs that can find a way to keep pucks deep, they will be in trouble. I mean, maybe we can knock this off to always being on the offense, but that's just making excuses.

Hjalmer was interviewed between periods against the Ducks and he mentioned support and positioning as the greatest reasons they win or lose. When you tear down the star talents of the NHL, all that is left is playing hard, playing positioned with a purpose, and supporting your teammates. We saw what happens when one team does it, and the other doesn't last night, regardless of talent level.

When they want to win, it seems like the Hawks can pull it out no matter what. They have that much skill. They couldn't do that against the Wings, and this was even with a really shaky goaltender in net. I would really like to see the Hawks clean up some of these big holes in their game, because what just happened might start happening a little more often going forward.

P.S. I thought Kruger played great and has all year. This is only greater concern for what Bollig does when he doesn't have the puck, because that line is struggling.

And, why can't Kaner just do his slow down quadruple quick stick handling move every shootout attempt? It is the only thing that works for him, and probably would have taken that extra point.

Also, Darren Helm is my favorite player that doesn't wear a Hawks uniform. Has been for a while, and I don't say that enough because he plays for the Wings. He's Stalberg with more hockey smarts and purpose, and he owned the Hawks all night long.

Filed under: View from the Bench

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  • Good to read your sagacious summary of the Hawks, once again.
    The boys make you wonder about what is in the Koolaid.

    If Bollig continues to outscore Bickell and then does well in the play-offs will he get a big contract or the door ?

    Did Pirri and Morin have such a bad presence in the room that they have no hope of playing for Chicago ? I'm stumped at their lack of time with the Hawks. If they are to be trade bait then they still need exposure to bump their value.

    Is it time to bring up Clendenning and sit Leddy ? Would Leddy, Pirri and Morin get us a real time 2nd centre in a trade.

    Like the Hawks I find myself bored in the game 40 - 60 death zone. Difference is I am not paid for my efforts.

  • Did you give up on writing the blog, Hostile Hawk?

  • Wow- One loss to the Wings and it ends Puckpowwow forever!? (Joking of course)

    Long time no see- Long time no new posts? Hope all is well with you Hostile Hawk. Looking forward to these last couple weeks of regular season play and hopefully my team scrapping themselves into a playoff spot!

  • Almost five months since the last blog entry. Yeah, this blog is dead.

  • Wowa, where to start. Not all is gloom and doom but it is time to take shape.
    I too am often frustrated with the Hawk inconsistency where they soundly beat quality teams while laying an egg at the feet of bottom feeders. But i think we need to realize the regular season is nothing more than a dress rehearsal before the big dance.
    Saad is young and playing on the top line will only benefit him and the Hawks down the road. Saad must be given some kudos for Kane's success so far. Sharp needs top line minutes too; where to fit him in is a question Q must answer. Net minding remains a real soft spot with me - CC continues to play well but he also continues to allow easy back breaker goals at bad times. Getting Van Riemsdyk back will be a bonus. Yes he is a kid but whenever i saw him he was a big solid stay home kid who rarely made mistakes and maintained his composure at the toughest of times. Speaking of time it is time to make a decision with Rozsival. Q likes him but he is slow and unable to keep up with the play - especially contributing to the transition play. What to do with Scott Darling? Is it me but was he not as good as any tender we have seen in a number of years? There again he is green behind the ears but all i saw was composure and puck stopping. Certainly the Hawks need to work him into more games real soon, somehow. He can't be allowed to rot in the AHL forever and he must not be traded away for some third round draft pick or a prospect who has been one for 4 years.
    We are into the final session of the dress rehearsal. This is where the bacon meets the frying pan and we start to drain off the fat. The Hawks up until now have done their jobs and are positioned to challenge for the President's trophy and have home ice advantage throughout the play offs. This is very important because, other than last year where a weak goal beat us, we saw how valuable a game 7 at home can be. This is where Q must shine and really start to stabilize the lines.
    As far as Helm goes - he is the most under rated player in the league. Heart and soul with total effort. Kind of like an Andrew Shaw but with a bit more talent.
    Go Hawks

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