Eleven games into the season is long enough to show a trend, and the Hawks team defense is trending in the wrong direction. If not for Marty Turco standing on his head last night, the Hawks 3-1 win could easily have been a 6-3 loss. The truth is in the numbers. Last season, the Hawks allowed a league best 25.1 shots against last season. Through 11 games this season, the Hawks are allowing 34.1 shots against per game. That's "good" for 25th (of 30) in the NHL.
Can the loss of Brent Sopel really be hurting the Hawks this much? Is Brian Campbell that crucial in stopping shots against? Nick Boynton, despite a few badly timed penalties, has played pretty well...at least as well as Sopel, and Campbell has never been known for his defensive prowess.
The difference is in the forwards. While losing Kris Versteeg, Andrew Ladd, and John Madden offensively hasn't been that big of a deal, the Hawks are missing them big time in the defensive zone.
Time after time last night, Hawk forwards could not clear the defensive zone. Forwards were getting stuck on the ice, skating shifts that were far too long. When Ladd, Versteeg, and Madden were here, they played solid defensively. Backchecking was never a question, and their ability to read passes and intercept them is something the Hawks are sorely missing. A lot of that ability comes from time spent practicing and playing together, a luxury the Hawks haven't had.
In time, one could assume the Hawks will find the chemistry and get better, but they will never match last years team. We all knew the Hawks would be a different team after all their offseason changes. Hawks fans should be thankful that one of those changes was Marty Turco, because he's been the difference in a number of games already.
Filed under: andrew ladd, atlanta thrashers, Blackhawks, brian campbell, Chicago Blackhawks, Chicago Sports, fernando pisani, hockey, jay zawaski, joel quenneville, kris versteeg, NHL, Nick Boynton, sports, toronto maple leafs, wscr
Tags: andrew ladd, atlanta thrashers, blackhawks, brian campbell, chicago blackhawks, chicago sports, fernando pisani, hockey, jay zawaski, joel quenneville, kris versteeg, NHL, nick boynton, Sports, toronto maple leafs, wscr