At least the Colliton Era already has a familiar pattern.
Once again, the Hawks were the better team in the first period. They had the better chances, they looked faster and more creative than they have for most of the season, and yet they couldn’t solve a goalie who for the most part has struggled for a while. And then a defensive miscue causes them to fall behind. They don’t panic, but can’t scratch one out. At least it didn’t all fall apart like Thursday. Progress?
But then two veterans completely shit it on a power play, including some really questionable effort, and now you’re down two. The Hawks couldn’t crack a Flyers team that could then just sit back and wait, because they don’t have enough of those players. You know where it goes from there.
Let’s sort it out.
The Two Obs
-Let’s start with Duncan Keith. In the first period, the broadcast was all gaga about his “activity,” which pretty much amounted to impersonating that shortstop on your little league team who chased down every ball, even if it was deep in the outfield. And while activity looks nice, there’s a problem.
It’s not what supposed to be happening.
The main reason Henri Jokiharju was paired with Keith, other than there being no one else really and his veteran tutelage, was to take that part of the game off of Keith’s plate. Keith simply can’t be all over the ice anymore, he can’t be jumping into the play because he can’t get back, and he wasn’t that good at it anyway. As he settles into the sunset years of his career, a free safety role where his still useful mobility would be better suited is what’s on the menu. It’s Jokiharju the Hawks want jumping into the play. They want him making those passes and taking those shots. That’s where his game is. He’s not going to develop by having to catch all the fly balls Keith loses in the sun behind him. If Keith can’t, or won’t, reel it in, then there’s going to have to be another solution. This is part of the reason HarJu is drowning in his own zone. He’s there on his own a lot. And when his instincts to be aggressive come up, he’s finding his partner already there.
As for the first goal, yeah it’s a bad turnover, and a symptom of the Hawks still trying to do the things they used to. But still, when Keith does look, Anisimov is in that circle. Anisimov then proceeds to just float backwards toward the blue line, letting Giroux in front of him, for no discernible reason. Keith is under pressure and facing the boards, how’s he going to get that puck to you at the line, Arty? If you want to know why Anisimov’s possession and defensive numbers blow, there you go.
-Now to the second goal. Keith biffs a puck, admittedly rolling, at the blue line, letting Couturier in. And then Chris Kunitz…well I’m not sure what the verb is here. Blobs on Coots? Attempts to confuse him with his taco breath? Whispers in his ear about the emptiness and meaningless of life in an attempt to get Coots to be buried in ennui? I can’t tell.
I’m not going to rant and rave about him being on the power play at all, though I want to. With Saad out and the first unit loaded up, the alternatives are like Kahun, Fortin, and….well, you. So whatever. But if that’s the best effort that Kunitz can muster, to be shrugged off that easily, then he’s not an NHL player anymore and should be on waivers tomorrow. If he didn’t bother to do more, well that’s some veteran presence you’ve got there.
-Every time David Kampf, who does have use, makes a move at the offensive blue line to put his teammates offside, he should have to spend five minutes with a weasel in his pants.
-The third goal is mostly unlucky, except for the part where Jan Rutta is hesitant, takes a shit angle, and gets beat to the outside. Otherwise there isn’t even a shot to bounce off Crow and Manning to go in. Ain’t no coach going to do anything with Jan Rutta or Manning or Davidson. Too bad Connor Murphy is dead.
-At least Crow looked more like Crow than he has in weeks.
-A word on the broadcast. First, the barely concealed contempt Foley and Olczyk have for Barry Smith during that interview is excellent television.
We went through this last year. I know this team is a tough watch, but Pat and Eddie are getting paid a fair sum to be professional about it. I don’t need them to agree with the firing, I really won’t argue with anyone who does. But it’s not their job to sit around and lament it two games later. To make it clear how miserable you are having to broadcast this team. No, it wasn’t a great game today, but the mark of a broadcaster is what you do with the bad games. We’re all wondering what we’re doing here, but it doesn’t help when the broadcast of the game sounds like they’re narrating a trip to the DMV. Do better.