As I mentioned in my recap against the New Jersey Devils, I thought the next two games would be the difference between a historically good month and a very strong one for the Hawks. The Hawks escaped Boston with a win but it was a different story in Long Island.
Quite frankly, if it weren’t for Scott Darling, this could’ve gotten ugly from the 21 minute mark on. After a first period where the Hawks seemed to dictate the play and tempo, the Islanders put it into another gear and the Hawks really couldn’t find an answer. Darling was incredible, though and the Hawks went into the third tied.
After a tremendous individual effort from Patrick Kane and a lazy change by one of the Islanders, the Hawks appeared in decent shape to at least get a point out of a game they were being thoroughly outplayed. In a case of “ball don’t lie,” the Islanders struck back with two quick goals. One thanks to an awfully lazy high sticking penalty courtesy of Kris Versteeg and the other came off a very nice play by Lubomir Visnovsky (Didn’t realize he still had that in him).
On to it.
–Not surprisingly, the Hawks got clocked in possession with Richards and Kruger’s line leading the charge. Islanders coach and terrible tie-knotter, Jack Capuano, utilized his last change to match up the Tavares line with Richards line for the most part. Moving forward, if other teams want to do that, I’m not sure there’s many other teams that can boast such a powerful line against them.
Kruger’s line as a whole didn’t have a very strong game and Dan Carcillo led the charge on that. He didn’t seem very engaged at all and was very late coming back into the zone a couple times while also losing possession a couple times that led to extended zone play for the Islanders.
–On the last shift of the game, the SHOOOOOOOOOOT people finally got one right. The Hawks had established possession with the goalie pulled and were moving the puck around the perimeter. Kane, Keith and Rozsival all had a chance to push the puck towards the net. Even if they didn’t think they could get it through on Halak, they could’ve at least shot intentionally wide and hoped for a bounce. Either way, in that situation, one of them has to at least try to put one towards the net.
The puck could take a million different bounces and the Hawks had them outnumbered down low. But you can’t really take advantage if you keep playing patty-cake along the blue line.
–As for your other question, why was Michal Rozsival out there in the first place? Well, your guess is as good as mine. Seabrook had just come off the ice after an extended shift. The Hawks probably wanted a right-handed shot on the left side of the point. Of course, it would also be fair to ask why wasn’t that person Patrick Sharp then. And I don’t really have an answer for that one.
–Before we move along to the Morin trade, I want to commend the Hawks beat writers this week for offering their opinions on the way Jonathan Toews’ “upper body” injury was handled by the Hawks. Several of them spoke out and said what the Hawks did (allowing Toews to take another shift) was wrong. In years past, that has not happened. This year, it has. Excellent progress.
–Waiting until the morning to offer the recap has offered another advantage. As Sam mentioned after the game, the Hawks have now given up 40 shots in 4 of their last 5 games and gave up another 34 in Boston. This is happening for a few reasons.
- Johnny Oduya has not been playing very well and with him not being able to fully shoulder the load of top assignment, this has led to:
- Duncan Keith being overplayed
- Michal Rozsival being Michal Rozsival and continuing to be allowed to play 15+ minutes a game
- The Hawks, as a team, have probably started to hit a bit of a wall. They’ve played a ton of games on the road in the past 30 days and against some really good teams.
So cue this morning and Stan Bowman shipping off Jeremy Morin to Columbus for Tim Erixon. This will be the 4th NHL team Erixon has been a part of and he’s still only 23 so take from that what you will. At the same time, it’s encouraging that Bowman has recognized the same problems we’re all seeing. The Hawks cannot continue to throw out a 3rd pair on defense that can’t crack 10 minutes a game and the one 3rd pairing defenseman they do allow to play more than 10 minutes is a dumpster fire of St. Louis proportions.
I’m not going to project where Erixon fits or if he does at all because he could do one thing wrong in practice that offend Joel Quenneville’s hockey sensibilities and be launched to Jupiter. At the same time, I was going to spend a few sentences had I written the recap last night that the Hawks will likely look to acquire more defensemen as the season rolls on. So I’m glad Bowman saved me of that.