Whenever the Hawks hit a rough patch these days, a big debate rages whether it’s just midseason boredom/malaise/market correction, or genuine flaws being exposed that need addressing. The answer is almost always both, and tonight was a pretty prime example of all of that.
There are structural problems that have been there all year that didn’t help tonight: Shaw’s defensive positioning (just leave the league’s leading goal-scorer there, pal), Rozsival’s utter uselessness (don’t bother to cut off a passing lane to the league’s leading goal-scorer there, pal), a dropoff in Keith’s and Seabrook’s play, and a lack of 4th line contributions.
But that was combined with things I don’t think will continue, and that’s a complete disinterest in backchecking, a sloppiness with passing that blunted a lot of attacks, guys swiping at pucks instead of stopping and controlling it, and just bad decisions all over the ice. And in both categories, all that’s solvable. But first they need to get to the break without the bottom falling out.
Let’s do it:
The Two Obs
-In a strange twist. Oduya wasn’t the problem tonight, as he and Hjalmarsson ended up way over in possession, and they did that while matched up against the top line of the Stars. Seguin’s goal there wasn’t much they could do. However, Keith and Seabrook were buried possession-wise by Da Noid line (Roussel-Eakin-Garbutt) and that’s dispiriting.
-The Hawks were undone twice by moronic pinches, one from Brad Richards on the power play and another from Saad covering for Oduya, Neither 2-on-1 was played like a champ by Keith or Rozsival, but the decisions that came before it are not something we need to worry becoming an epidemic for this team for the rest of the year.
-Fiddler’s goal, the Stars’ 3rd, was some vintage Seabrook from last year and the one before. Sure, Tim Erixon didn’t do much either on the other side, but once the puck came back to the point Seabrook wasn’t taking a man, wasn’t trying to block the shot, but also wasn’t getting out of the way so Crow could see it clearly. Crow missed it, it hits the post, and Seabrook had the best seat for Fiddler to breathe it into the net. Now whether this is a dip from Seabrook and he’ll return to what had been mostly acceptable form this year, or this is a full-out return to what we’ve seen the past two years, I can’t tell you.
-The Stars got goals from all four lines. The Hawks got them from one at even-strength and then Kane on the power play. While we love Teuvo here, the fact remains that the last five games the current bottom six has produced Sharp’s goal in Minnesota and Teuvo’s against the Jets and that’s it. This is a temporary problem, as this isn’t going to go on forever.
-Still, normally you’d like to think 36 shots in two periods will give you more than three goals. But then how do you manage all of five in the final frame against a team that played last night and that is hardly defensively sound? That’s just inattention and lack of effort, and again these aren’t long-term problems. I think.
-Crawford’s line is hardly impressive looking, five goals on 33 shots. But without him, the Stars probably put up seven or eight, which tells you something about the Hawks’ effort tonight.
-Still waiting an answer on what it is Joakim Nordstrom does. Not that it matters when Versteeg is healthy.
-Although these days, I could ask the same question about Ben Smith at evens.
-Maybe it just feels like Hjalmarsson is getting beat with speed to the outside more often.
I’m really not going to pass any judgement on this team until they hit that roadtrip. The Hawks have looked wayward before this time of year but then snap it together on the Ice Show trip. I know it’s only a 3-5 month so far, and that looks ugly. So does being tied for 3rd. Last year they’d actually lost three in a row before that trip, then went 3-1-2 on it including piercing the Ducks and Kings and losing to the Sharks in a shootout. Of course, we remember a couple years ago when they lost them all. So until we get there, we don’t know how much of this is just a passing virus or a serious infection.