Not exactly how you want to start a trip that isn’t going to have much margin for error to begin with. And while the downfall was due to a familiar problem (mostly), it’s not one that you fear is going to be a long-lasting one. At least you certainly hope so.
Still, the Hawks once again couldn’t even draw a point out of a game in which they were tied or had the lead in the 3rd, and that is worrisome. You have to close these, especially when Nashville may never lose again. Which is what they did against Washington, Edmonton, Winnipeg, and Dallas. I don’t expect it to continue, but a couple more and we can’t label it an anomaly anymore.
Let’s get to it:
The Two Obs
-Last night’s main culprit, or at least one of the main ones, is that just like the last half of last year’s playoff series, Jonathan Toews’s line was in the place pool behind Anze Kopitar’s. People think I have it out for Toews, and that most certainly is not the case. I just wish more people around here would realize that Kopitar is pretty much his equal in every way. And since Toews scored twice in the 1st period of Game 3, Kopitar has basically been handling him.
So it was last night for the last half of the game. This isn’t to put it all on Toews of course, because Hossa and Saad were getting buried right there with him. Seabrook and Oduya got caught behind their net. Saad lost a board battle, all this going on while they’d been trapped out there far too long. Toews missed the puck a couple times from the point, and didn’t have it in the legs to cover Toffoli who was streaking down the slot and through all of our nightmares for far too long now. It’s easy to point to Oduya being on the ice for another goal, and I’m not going to stop you. But it was a team-wide breakdown there.
For the winner, Toews lost a draw which doesn’t happen much. But it seems to happen more often when it’s #11 across from him. You can’t win them all, but late in a close game Toews is counted on to get those. Didn’t last night, he will most nights.
-Now let’s get to the defense. Not that that will be much fun. There’s something interesting going on here and I can’t quite figure out what. Q has clearly seen that he can’t trust Oduya with anything other than third pairing assignments. But he won’t play Rundblad more than a handful of sheltered minutes with Keith. Rundblad only skated 10 minutes, and had some ups and some downs as is his wont. But it’s kind of clear, maybe, that Q isn’t going to give Rundblad the rope to see if he can sink or swim with more responsibility.
It’s always kind of obvious when Q is barking to his front office that he needs something, which in this case is pretty funny because Q certainly would have had a part in the Oduya-over-Leddy decision which helped get him into this mess.
-While it didn’t look pretty, the Hawks actually took more and more control of the game as it went on according to the fancy stats, it just felt like the Kings chances were much better. And it seemed that way because the Hawks passing out of defense was sloppy, and it’s got no feet. Only Keith can really skate back there now with Oduya’s decline and Leddy’s departure. Which means the other d-men get more pressured by the opposing forecheck. Which means their passes are rushed, which means the teammates they’re going to have less time if any at all, and it all gets pretty scrappy. And seeing as how that’s the Kings game, you see where this goes sideways.
Basically, lately when the Hawks get in trouble in their own end they stay in trouble longer than they used to, because they can’t get to the escape hatches as quickly as they used to. TVR does not solve this problem, and I don’t know who does.
-It’s funny, I saw Jen joking about how much time Kruger and Nordstrom were getting. But Kruger only ended up with 14 minutes, which is only slightly higher than what would have been a normal load for him last season. It’s just that he hasn’t played nearly that much lately. They weren’t assigned a checking role either, and they were the Hawks’ possession leaders.
-I would be worried about Teuvo getting less than 10 minutes, but his entire line got less than 10 minutes at evens. Again, Andrew Shaw does not a center make. I get it on the road and on this trip, but let’s not make it for long, eh?
-This really burns the hair off my ass. Against Arizona, Toews moves to the high slot and gets fed a pass from the left side. The Yotes don’t close him down, and he gets to fire one home from between the circles. On the first power play last night, Toews is in the high slot with Kane having the puck on the right side. Carter doesn’t want to leave Toews alone and collapses on him from the other wing, leaving a passing lane open to Sharp to bury it from the other side. And then the Hawks don’t have Toews in the high slot on any other power play again, preferring to once again bury him in the corner where the can’t do anything. I FEEL LIKE I’M TAKING CRAZY PILLS HERE!!!
-Christ, we’re going to have to do this seven more times in May, aren’t we?
So, some old problems, some problems only in this game, and some in between. Move on I guess. Though it stings a bit.