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Start The Fire But Miss The Firefight: Cats 2 – Hawks 6

And by that I sort of mean that Scott Clemmensen happened. Not that he was truly awful, though I’m sure he’d like goals #3 and #4 back. But we all knew that with the Panthers coming in after playing last night and rolling out their backup, journeyman goalie that the Hawks would only have to be locked in for so long to build a lead they couldn’t possibly punt. They kind of tried to, but only half-assed their cough-up effort (in the same way they half-assed some of their breakouts) and when bothered were able to slip away again.

The night was overshadowed by Corey Crawford’s injury, and then the Vaudevillian display that would have come if Antti Raanta hadn’t gotten up from being run by Jimmy Hayes (marking the first time that Hayes aggressively went to the net at the United Center). Whether it ends up being long-term or not, we’ll just have to wait. But we better hope not.


Observation and Objectivity

-Ok, let’s get the Crow injury out of the way first. What follows is all speculation, so take that into account. Both the broadcast apparently and I wondered if Crawford’s injury didn’t at least stem from when Seabrook got a little wayward and tripped him with no one around. Crow was very slow to get up from that. That’s not to pile even more on Seabrook, just what happened. But we’ll never know.

What we do know is that Q said post-game that he doesn’t think Crawford’s injury is too serious, and generally when Q says that it tends to be true. As general as it sounds, and as vague as they can be, these are usually what it comes out to be.

However, if it turns out to be, this is where the Versteeg trade seems a bit gluttonous. Because if Crow is out a few weeks, if Bowman even wanted to go out and find a goalie to fill in he doesn’t have the flexibility now. Serviceable goalies don’t come at the price the Hawks have to bounce off the current roster, unless they moved Versteeg again. And if Steeger isn’t going to kill penalties, I still wonder how much more he’s really giving you than Morin would if given the full-time job. But another debate for another time, which will be when we know how long Crawford is going to be out for.

-What we can be pretty sure of is that Antti Raanta is going to take a couple starts here. Honestly I’d be shocked if Crow was back before next weekend. With Raanta starting, there are two things the Hawks need to be aware of.

One, Crow hasn’t really gotten enough credit for how good his puck-handling has become. He has been able to nullify some teams’ forecheck with his own pass, and it’s come a very long way from when he first came in. Raanta’s puck-handling is… is there a polite way to finish that sentence? It caused Marcel Goc’s goal tonight, and the Hawks’ D is going to have to be aware that they’re pretty much going to have to retrieve every puck.

Second, the Hawks can’t just let people sit in front of the net either at even-strength or on the kill. Crow is big enough to see around traffic and to not get pushed around. He also doesn’t have to come out and challenge as much because of his size if his positioning is correct. Raanta does not have these qualities. He can’t see around traffic, can get tied up in it, and has to get out to challenge shots. The Hawks must be aware of this.

Let’s throw a disclaimer out now. Raanta is obviously quite athletic. He’s going to make some highlight saves while filling in for Crow. Some will confuse this with him being better than he is at the moment (otherwise known as “Lehtonen Syndrome”). Just prepare yourself for that.

-Ok, on to other stuff. I really hope the Hawks notice that Hossa’s and Saad’s goal both sprung from a few short passes out of their zone and past forecheckers leading to a break. What they didn’t result from is two or sometimes three forwards pacing around the red line wondering when these silly defensemen will bother to get them the puck. The Hawks find themselves far too often with their d-men stranded, but when the forwards are where they’re supposed to be they’re just lethal.

-Once again, Kruger’s line drew the top assignment, in this case Huberdeau and Bjugstad. And once again, the possession stats say they were on the back foot. Obviously, when checking the top line you’re not going to dominate possession. But an average Corsi of -6 between Kruger, Smith, and Bollig, I just don’t know that the roof isn’t going to cave in on them soon. Especially with Seguin, Giroux, and Kopitar all approaching in the next seven days.

-Andrw Shaw – 20-goal scorer. It sounds weird to say, but that’s what he’s been his entire time here. He just knows where to be, and on a team with this much skill, that’ll take you far.

-I’ve watched some bad teams in my time, and there are times when you can tell when they don’t give a shit and when they’re just outgunned. The Panthers skate very hard and never throw it in, much like the Flames. It’s more than you can say for the Oilers or Sabres or Jets. Which is why the Cats will rebound quicker than any of them, I think.

Let’s move on.

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