I'm still waiting on the Hawks to come up with a signature win.
While it's great that they have been taking as many points as they have through the first eight games (12 of a possible 16, with at least one point in their last 7) I don't feel like they have put it all together yet into something we as fans can look at and say "They dominated that game playing their style, the other guys never had a chance."
Honestly, I shouldn't even be bitching about this. Points are a precious commodity in the NHL and they are not exactly easy to come by. Turning my own complaint around on myself, I can say that it's only been eight games so it's not like we should have expected them to have it all figured out by this point. There are a lot of new pieces that have been added to the team and Quenneville is still playing with the chemistry set as is his wont.
Let's take a closer look though to see why I am feeling this way. In reverse order:
- 10/25 vs. Anaheim W 3-2 (SO): A see-saw affair that saw the Hawks come from behind twice to tie the game. Down 1-0 and 2-1, it took two super high-end plays from Kaner to Keep the Hawks in the game. The second point came in the shootout.
- 10/22 vs. Colorado L 4-5 (SO): Down 3-1 with six minutes left in the second period, the Hawks scored three straight goals to take a 4-3 lead only to surrender the game tying goal with less than two minutes to play. (That equalizer was scored by the 18 year-old rookie Gabriel Landeskog, his second of the game - unfortunately, he looks like he will be a very, very good player for a long time). The Hawks lost in the shootout.
- 10/20 @ Colorado, W 3-1: A very close, hard-fought game that was tied until Sharp scored with thirteen minutes left in the third period. Hossa added an empty netter at the end. The money quote from the game was from Hossa about Corey Crawford, "Tonight he stole the game for us,” Hossa said. “He made some really key saves.”
- 10/18 @ Phoenix, W 5-2: The Hawks beat a bad team at a rink with approximately 200 in attendance. It was a one goal game until Bolland broke the Yotes backs with a short-handed goal early in the third period to open up a two goal lead. Was it dominant? Maybe, but it was against a shit team.
- 10/15 vs. Boston, L 2-3 (SO): I didn't see this game (I was watching Lawrence of Arabia on the big screen!) so I can only go by the box score and game stories. They Hawks gave up two leads (1-0 and 2-1) and lost in the shootout.
- 10/13 vs. Winnipeg, W 4-3: The Hawks overcame a 2-0 deficit and scored the next four goals to eventually win 4-3. Winnipeg is another shit team that the Hawks should not have been trailing at any point to begin with.
- 10/8 vs. Dallas, W 5-2: This was probably their most dominant game of the season, a 5-2 beatdown at home in the second game of the season.
Don't get me wrong, they are playing well but I am looking for that win that tells me they are elite and Cup-worthy. It certainly feels different from last year though, doesn't it? Last year, in my opinion, they would not have been able to mount come-backs in the home games against ANA and COL. They probably would have just rolled over and died but both times they fought back and came out of it with 3 points. Personally, I do believe all the shit the Hawks media writers have been shoveling about team chemistry being improved. I think having a loose room is a huge deal in hockey and there is definitetly a lighter feeling about this year's team compared to last year. There is a whiff of the 2010 team's carefree attitude and I am all for that.
I just remember last year constantly tweeting that the team felt like it did not have a drop of magic left in from the Cup run. This team? Feels like there could be a little magic in there. We'll see.
Man, do I have some first world problems when all I am able to do is bitch in my blog about how my hockey team isn't winning with enough flair. The next thing you know, I'll be griping about how it's just impossible to find ripe mangoes at this time of year.
I deserve to be ridiculed. Let's take a break for a minute to cleanse our minds and palates.
And, we're back. Onto my thoughts.
-So, the Hawks are a good team. If they could ever figure out how to properly execute a power play they could be great.
-Until then, the power play will still be known as the Special Needs Gang or Finger painting Class, whichever you prefer.
-Your unsung hero is still Corery Crawford, holding down the back end in utter silence. Never quoted, never spoken to. Hilarious.
-First Carcillo shaves his mustache and comes out the other side looking like a normal human being. Then I find out that he is a serious music lover and went to Gary, IN to visit Michael Jackson's childhood home. THEN I learn that he hangs out at Kingston Mines. Am I in the Matrix? I feel like my reality has been altered.
-This Carcillo information is too much for me to process. I need another palate cleanser if I am going to make through to the end of this post.
-Duncan Keith held the kick-off event for his charity, Keith Relief, on Wednesday night. I would like to strangle the person responsible for putting together this slide show with piano wire. HOW CAN I MAKE FUN OF THESE PEOPLE IF I DON'T KNOW THEIR NAMES!?! No captions = fail.
-Ladies, please familiarize yourself with the picture of Kaner with the ping pong paddle in his hand. That is the same pose he adopts while "tapping that ass".
-There were some real hipster-looking d-bags at that party.
-It's easy to forget things in hockey that only happened a few days ago but I think this deserves to not be forgotten. This is from the Hawks/Avalanche game last Saturday. Jamal Mayers finishes but Nick Leddy did 90% of the work. More of this please. Leddy is a good skater, especially in tight spots against the boards. I'm a fan (so far). Make sure you pay close attention right from the very beginning because the action happens so fast.
-Blackhawks record since last Friday: 1-0-1
-Standings: 1st in the Central, 2nd in the West, tied for third in the NHL with 12 points overall.
-Finger Painting Class The power play is T-18th (4 for 30, 13.3%), the penalty kill is 5th at 91.3% (have allowed 2 PPG on the season, scored 2 shorties).
-Last week's predictions: I said they would win against COL on Saturday (lost in the SO) and that they would lose in the SO against ANA (beat ANA in the SO). It was wash as I predicted 3 points and they got 3 points.
-The upcoming schedule (through next Thursday) with my predictions: At CAR Friday (SO loss); Home against CLS Saturday (win); NSH at home on Monday (win); At FLA Thursday (loss). That's a tough patch there with three games in four days starting Friday night but CAR is mediocre, CLS is shit (although they have Wiz back now that his suspension is over) and NSH is shit so far as well. I would be happy with 5 points out of the available 8 in these four games. Chris Kuc wrote about the three games in four days thing here.
-Looking at the schedule I don't see any real opportunities for that signature win that I was bitching about at the top until we play Vancouver at home on Sunday, 11/6. But I'm patient. I can wait for that. Oh yes, I can wait very patiently for the Canucks to come to town.
Forgot to rant about this in the original post. No one likes the shootout, I think we all agree that it is a stupid way to decide a game and accrue points but whatever, that's not the point. The point is that the Hawks have not looked particularly good in the shootout thus far (2/9 in shots taken in the shootout with one win and two losses, including getting zero goals in the COL and BOS shootouts).
These poor performances led to Q having the guys practice the shootout. This led to an avalanche of snark from the Hawks blogosphere and Twitterverse about how the shootout is a crapshoot, it is pointless to practice it, why waste your time on something so dumb? It's a coin flip. You can't re-create a real shootout in practice. Hurr hurr hurr. Derp. Snark. Irony.
My question is: Why wouldn't you practice the shootout? We're talking about an exercise that bestows those precious points I wrote about in the original post. If you'll allow me to quote Theo Epstein from his presser, "Opportunities to win are sacred." Hell yes they are. I bet you would have preferred not to have had to sweat out that MIN/DAL game on the last day of the season last year which got the Hawks into the dance, right? One shootout win earlier in the season would have changed that.
So, yes, you should be practicing the shit out of the shootout. Q should be constantly be looking for whatever edge he can find to scrape these extra points. Cliche alert: points in October count just as much as points in March. They should be studying tape on all the opposing goalies tendencies in the shootout, they should be working on developing new moves and tricks to score in the shootout.
The shootout is stupid but that's the system we have right now so every angle and edge needs to be explored. If anything, the team should be spending more time practicing this shit. EVERY POINT IS PRECIOUS. OPPORTUNITIES TO WIN ARE SACRED.