Well, that should keep the “Goalie Controversy!” Tea-Partiers at bay at least until Crawford can cough up another game.
If you’ve come here for me to make you feel better, I’m going to fail you. Up two goals twice on a team that’s got a pretty heavy injury list… you have to have that. Pretty simple. You see it out in the 3rd period, you smother it away. That is if you’re the true powerhouse that you are. Yeah, I know. Second game in two nights. Not like you had to work all that hard on Friday. You gotta have it. You don’t give away one point, much less two.
And the warts that we’ve been trying to point out were there for all to see. That doesn’t mean they won’t correct themselves over the next 41. It doesn’t mean they might not matter over the next 41. But when the spring comes, a series against this Blues team or a healthier Kings team than last spring or the Ducks is going to come down to a few little things. And there are little things the Hawks need to sort out. In no particular order…
-Brent Seabrook. Get all the stories you want in the Tribune or share some of Eddie O’s tongue that’s been licking Keith’s ass all year, but it’s still an issue. It’s surprising, because Seabrook has been better of late. But he hasn’t played the Blues of late. And on a penalty kill that decides the game, Seabrook whiffs on two clearing attempts, loses the board battle, doesn’t get to Patrik Berglund (who is not that quick). Yeah, Raanta was off his angle and even if it was off Keith’s skate could have played it better. But he doesn’t have to worry about it if Seabrook doesn’t morph back into Eeyore. And fatigue wasn’t an issue because it wasn’t too long after the draw to open that power play. Can’t. Have. It. Maybe it’s clearer to more why Oduya and Hjalmarsson have taken all the top assignments this year?
-Goaltending. It hasn’t been good this year, and the Hawks needed some help tonight. They got some, but not enough. Hey look, Crow hasn’t been good this year and I don’t know that he does any more tonight. But Jaskin’s goal saw Raanta get caught up in traffic again and not get back to his post. It happens. It happens to Crow when he’s not at the top of his game too. Schwartz’s goal was a bad bounce. Could argue Tarasenko’s was too. Have to be better for the equalizer.
-Coaching decisions. You can’t have Andrew Shaw take a defensive draw out of a TV timeout. He sucks at it. Yeah, I know. He won half of his tonight. Don’t care. Too important. Ben Smith won more than half of his. You had three better options (four if you count Sharp). And if you think games against the Blues, or a series against the Blues, can’t come down to a couple faceoffs, you’re not paying attention.
-The PK. Had a bit of a revival lately. Didn’t come through when most needed. That will matter more than the faceoffs.
-The 2nd and 4th line. Both got clocked at even-strength possession wise. And no line with Patrick Kane should get clocked in possession. But when playing a heavy team like the Blues, Versteeg is too lightweight and Handzus can’t get there. It’s poor roster management.
As for the 4th line, they didn’t even get worked by a top line as is customary. They were bent over by Maxim Lapierre and the reanimated corpse of Brenden Morrow. And speaking of which, Brandon Bollig barely touched the ice in the 3rd. So if the experiment of him as a genuine checking forward is over and now he can’t even be trusted in the second of a back-to-back in a close game, can we at least get somebody here who does help possession for the first 40 minutes? For a team that thrives on possession and it’s PP currently, it’s infuriating that Jeremy Morin (one of the possession leaders and the team’s leader in drawing penalties) is on a fucking bus in central Illinois.
And when Q opted to throw Saad out with Kruger and Smith, it cost him the combination of Saad and Shaw which had been killing fuckers lately. Because Bickell is still feeling his way back in. At least that’s what I’m hoping.
-Forwards leaving the zone too early. Far too often tonight the Hawks forwards were not anywhere to be found for a breakout and instead were partying with the bee-people from the No Rain video in the neutral zone. The Blues offense feeds on that. You can have one forward stretch the Blues, but not two and certainly not three. That’s why you saw so many missed clearances tonight. The Blues were in front or “above” Hawks forwards that had leaked out. Can’t do that against this team. They live on it.
-Hey speaking of managing young, talented players, Jaden Schwartz is one who was allowed to play all of last year in the bottom six on a contending team, with ups and downs, and is now blossoming. Fancy that.
-Johnny Oduya won’t be adding this one to his portfolio anytime soon, either. And that’s a worry. Bangkok Dangerous was excellent against the heavy Kings and Bruins last year. But I haven’t totally forgotten his tour-de-fart against Phoenix the year before. It’s no sure thing what we saw last year in the crunch is the actual truth. Could be in between. Not sure in between will be good enough.
If you want to worry about the Blues even more in the spring, you should. They just have a way. I still think they’re too dumb to keep it together over six or seven games, but they seem to bring the worst out in the Hawks. And that’s enough of that.