If you’ve watched the Hawks for even just a few years, this was not all that hard to see coming. A single road game before the break. A more than solid effort last out over a division rival that put to rest a mini-losing streak, so there wasn’t really anything to “correct” tonight. A motivated opponent that needs every point it can get with the things that the Hawks struggle with when they’re not all there (a good coach and a mobile defense). A sick captain, and it’s hard to keep a sickness restricted to just one player on a team, so it wouldn’t be a surprise if a few guys have rumbling tummies or whatever’s bugging Toews. It all added up to an effort where the Hawks looked like they were watching the clock from the opening faceoff. And that’s exactly what we got.
This will be one of the many games over the years that come right in the middle of the slog that we’ll forget once the second week of April hits, and so will the team. Had the Hawks lost to the Blues on Sunday we probably would have seen an inspired game tonight, as generally even when they’re on autopilot the Hawks don’t let things go loose for an extended period of time. But this was basically about not getting hurt, and they’ve piled these bad efforts on the road lately. It’s just that Corey Crawford hid them. He didn’t tonight, though it could have been a lot worse without him in the first 20.
Let’s get through whatever there is to get through, and I’m not convinced there really is anything.
The Two Obs
-It’s almost certainly not fair to single out one guy when the whole team coughs up a hairball as the Hawks did tonight. But Seabrook was especially putrid, the “highlight” being a half-hearted board battle that saw Nestrasil strip him of the puck, find Staal who found Nordstrom. He had two other turnovers tonight where he simply passed the puck straight onto a Canes’ stick. Again, he was hardly alone tonight but this has been going on a while. Maybe he’s conserving for when it matters. Everyone had better hope so.
-Nordstrom rolled Hossa off to score his goal and Darling committed way too early for the shot that didn’t come on the backhand. How often do we see Hossa simply whiff on a guy?
-Not one Hawk was in the black in possession tonight. We call that bad in the Old Country.
-While we know the Hawks are going to basically coast for the rest of the season, probably only getting up for games against the Stars, Caps, Blues, a few division games, and one or two others, tonight was yet another example of why they need home ice. They have players that need to be sheltered. A good coach on the other bench is going to charge at TVR, and Rozsival, and Gustafsson, and really Seabrook. When Keith and Hammer can’t be bothered as they were tonight, this is what you’ll get. It’s exacerbated when a coach can focus on the SuperPAK line, as when things were still in doubt Bill Peters had Jordan Staal out there simply erasing Anisimov from anyone’s line of vision. With a sick Toews and a still figuring it out Danault unable to pick up the slack…
-The Canes also have one of the best blue lines in the game, and I’d be hard pressed to name a better one in the Eastern Conference. They have three or four guys who can push the pace of the game, and the Hawks only have one pairing that can really deal with that over 60 minutes.
-I noticed Mark McNeill tonight about as much as I’ve noticed him in any of the preseason games he’s played over the past two years. Which is to say, I didn’t.
-Clearly CatButt was the glue that held this team together.
Chuck it in the bin. Onwards…