First, let me apologize for the delayed wrap. There was a miscommunication between us, and the wrap fell in between like a pop fly between White Sox outfielders and infielders (cue Sox fan insecurity in 3…2…1… ). But I’m here now, and that’s what’s important, to see me.
Here’s a nugget for you: thanks to the lockout, Hawks fans have had to deal with exactly three two-game losing streaks in 20 months. You can make it five if you include combining the three games in a row to Detroit, and the two in a row to Boston in the playoffs. That’s five two-game losing streaks in 102 regular season and playoff games, with none exceeding three. Ok, we’re spoiled.
Not to mean last night’s loss was good.
-I suppose this early in the season it’s not reasonable to expect that tactical side to be completely up to speed, especially when you’re back out on the road after two weeks on it after only a couple days at home. You’d understand if they were a bit weary mentally and physically.
But it’s still frustrating to watch a team like Minnesota make it Priority #1 to eliminate the stretch-passes the Hawks tend to fall in love with, and yet the Hawks still attempt them all the time. I counted at least 7 times where a d-man had a short option in the middle of the defensive zone on a breakout with nary a man in green in site, and yet still went for the Hollywood pass. There are just nights when the Hawks have to attack with two or three 15-foot passes instead of the Chicks-Dig-The-Stretch. At times this year, they haven’t. That’s why it looked so disjointed at times last night.
-The other reason for the Hawks looking off in flow is that they were so conscious of matchups, basically keeping Morin and Nordstrom away from anyone with a pulse (hello Mike Rupp!), that they constantly had to sacrifice possession to change lines. Hey, there are times when this is necessary. I’m not sure a game in the first week in December, when you’ve got two in the next three days, is that time.
-Speaking of that kid line, none of them got over 10 minutes. With this heavy schedule coming up. I know Q isn’t convinced by any of them, and I know they’ve all got their faults. But even if we eliminate Brookbank who’s just doing what he can in a position he’s never played, if Morin and Nordstrom are here then they’re here. And if they’re here they have to help you win, which means they get 12 minutes in this stretch no matter how many Tums it requires Q to take. If Q is so in love with rolling 4 lines, as he claimed the success of the road trip was built on, then do so. Or do you only roll four lines when you actually have third liners on your fourth line?
-Maybe I’m burying the lede. Corey Crawford’s struggles continue, and at least the fourth goal is one he’s gotta have. But you know, other than the truly elite goalies in the league, pretty much everyone else in the second tier sees their SV% swing wildly from season to season, so maybe we should all just expect that this might just be what Crow is going to be this year. Did anyone really think he was actually going to be the guy from last year all the time? If there’s one silver lining is that I can’t imagine Antti Raanta won’t start tonight and at least Crow’s workload won’t be so fucking ridiculous.
-The kill is also a barn fire at the moment, but there’s really no point in breaking down structure and philosophy if the goalie isn’t going to make the saves. It does seem however, that every team is keeping three players high in the zone to easily pass around the two somewhat passive Hawks forwards and easily open up a shooting lane to at least get the puck to an unattended man in front. Maybe more pressure up top?
-Speaking of struggles, I’m now giving Brent Seabrook the treatment of tearing his picture out of the lineup page in the Indian and replacing it with a cartoon (you’ll have to read to see). Seabrook only has jump in his step when joining the rush, which he’s doing all the time even though it’s his partner racking up the points. His passing was again woeful, and what led to his penalty that the Wild equalized on was a miscommunication between him and Keith on who was getting a dump-in. And the look on Keith’s face suggested he couldn’t believe his dead-ass partner wasn’t going to get it as he was facing that way and Keith was trying to stand up Parise at the blue line.
-I saw some teeth-gnashing about Bollig being out on the ice for Seabs’s penalty and then the winner, and obviously I get it. But he’s on the main checking line now, so he’s got to survive it or we all have to deal with the bumps in the road as he learns to be a part of that unit. But last night was the result of that line regularly having trouble possession wise with their assignments but getting away with not being scored upon. They weren’t last night either, but being pinned by Parise and Koivu for that long led to Seabs’s penalty. This has been happening while they’ve been deployed this way, the Hawks just got away with it.
-I’m guessing Ryan Suter would vote for Brandon Saad to be on the Olympic team.
-Marian Hossa is averaging just about four shots per game. Every season he’s done that, he’s scored 40+. He won’t this year because he won’t play enough games, but he’s just about on that pace.
Ok, that’s enough. McClure will be by this afternoon for tonight’s preview. Apologies again for the delay.