Well, it’s gone from just doldrums or boredom to officially a slump. And while the little things that have added up to a loss the past couple weeks have changed from game to game, the overriding theme has been the Hawks just don’t have much jump or zazz. That extra spice that usually carries the Hawks through just isn’t there right now.
It comes in a few forms. Usually it’s the lack of movement in anything or cutting corners. You would lose count if you went back through tonight’s game and counted the amount of times a Hawk just skated past a puck-carrying Flame and took one wave with his stick instead of stopping and trying to actually pick the puck. Against a shot-blocking heavy team, you have to move yourself and the puck quickly to open up lanes. The Hawks repeatedly stood still and then tried a shot. That’s not going to work.
It shows itself in not being above your man or between him and the puck before it gets there. Sharp getting beaten to the net for the OT winner after Leddy chased to the board is just one example. You see it in Hawks not moving toward their d-men to help or on breakouts and instead wait for the puck to come to them. It’s the hope plays with too-fancy passes instead of working to score that result in turnovers.
All of it has the Hawks looking like a Spinal Tap show right now. Sure, there’s flashes of brilliance and good production, but just enough is being cocked up to fuck over the whole thing.
Is it chronic or just a passing virus? I don’t know, I don’t think it’s the former. But the Hawks are in 2nd place now, and the volume on this trip is about to go way up. If the Hawks can’t rummage around and find a couple more bullets in the pocket (because that’s where you keep your bullets?) we could easily be looking at a repeat of 2012’s Trail of Tears.
The Two Obs
-The Hawks gave up a lot of odd-man rushes in the first 40 tonight, and while it’s easy to air out Bickell for the first one that scored, the Hawks sloppiness with the puck made it immaterial where the third forward was placed. He would have had to have been in his own zone at this rate. When a d-man jumps into the play, yes the third forward has to fill in but the idea is to get the puck deep with your numerical advantage. Instead, the Hawks turned the puck over at the first opportunity with silly passes. Shaw’s waist-high laser was one. Shaw abandoning Sharp on the power play to try and win the puck among two Flames was another.
Of course, Seabrook played the first 2-on-1 like an absolute boob., which didn’t help.
-I suppose you could argue that Andrew Shaw is hitting some sort of wall. This is his first full season at this level, though he’s had two combined full seasons at the AHL and NHL. But the first at his level is probably something of an adjustment, so let’s go with that for now as a cause for his being a full body dry heave lately.
-Rozsival wasn’t much better.
-As far as Pirri’s first game back, it’s kind of what we’re used to seeing. Some good offensive play, some pinning in the defensive zone. He does need to get stronger on the puck, but that will only happen with another summer with nutcase Paul Goodman.
-Another bugaboo of late is that the Hawks goaltending hasn’t come through. This might not be a game if Raanta stops either of those first two very preventable goals. Crow has let in his share of weak ones of late too. And maybe that’s it. Maybe these blips in the Hawks’ game were there last year a bit but were erased by superb goaltending.
-The Hawks being 0-7 in OT is almost certainly just an anomaly. I’m sure we’ll see a lot of theories over the coming days, but it’s pretty much just every bounce and fuck up going in the net against them. You could play those 7 OT games again and the Hawks might win all of them. Of course, if they don’t bag a couple before the season ends we may see a lot of stories about how the Hawks will handle playoff overtimes and shaken confidence and won’t that be fun?
-Bryan Bickell played a game you might expect after a healthy scratch. Desperate to make an impression at times and terrified of making a mistake at others. But hey, at least he almost got as much ice time as Working Class Hero (TM) Brandon Bollig, who I think just got in his linemates’ way again.
-I feel like tomorrow night’s game is ending in a blowout either way. The Hawks usually get clocked in Vancouver once a season, or they’ll respond when they absolutely have to after another “we’re not really here” effort.