Wraps

I Bought A Headache – Wild 3, Hawks 0

Box Score (Barf)
Even Summary (Puke)
War on Ice (Spew)

One thing needs to get cleared up right from the get go. Any talk of this being retribution for the Vegas trip or the players being too drunk and/or hungover from it is completely stupid and lazy, and anyone who writes that is stupid and lazy. On any given night a solid handful of players on every team are dehydrated or sleep deprived from nights spent out drinking or chasing things, and to not believe that is to be fooling one’s self.

For over a calendar year now, Mike Yeo has completely rolled the Hawks on Xcel ice, putting his name on a lengthy list that habitually outcoach Joel Quenneville. Even as recent as last month this very Wild team outshot the Hawks 44-20 WITHOUT Zach Parise or Erik Haula. That the Wild put up a comical Games like this are why it would be wrong for Chuck Fletcher to fire Mike Yeo, as he knows what he is doing. He has both the speed at forward to pressure the Hawks defensemen on puck retrieval and be able to get them back up ice without leaving large gaps between themselves and the Wild defenseman. Those defenseman have also been adept at denying the Hawks clean entry with active sticks as they come over the blue line. Having Marco Scandella grow into a bona fide #3 behind Suter and Brodin has greatly expedited this process. This forced the Hawks into a lot of dumb, backhanded passes to try to evade a pursuer, which led to all three Minny goals.

Of course, the Blackhawks blue line looking like a steaming pile of crap and the bottom six forwards right behind it haven’t helped things. Johnny Oduya is just as exposed on the third pairing as he is on the second with Michal Rozsival drowning as slowly as Michal Handzus did last year. And David Rundblad is ill-suited to be partnered with Duncan Keith because he doesn’t have the first-step quickness to fill the spaces that Keith vacates when retrieving pucks, and as a result, Keith cannot drive the play as he had previous to this.

All that being said, prior to tonight, the Hawks were doing mostly the right things and only got two out of six points. There is zero need to panic about any of this for right now. Yes, it sucks that this is the first time that the team has been shut out in back-t0-back games in the Kane/Toews/Quenneville era, and tonight wasn’t pretty, but basically everything is still in place for this team to succeed. It’s just exacerbated by playing in the toughest division in hockey, where the Blues and Predators will likely never lose a game again.

Observations

  • This is the Brad Richards regression that the prophecy had foretold. Even if that’s the case, having him as a third center option in a 3-1 line configuration still isn’t the worst thing in the world. But that assumes Teuvo is going to be utilized properly, which he won’t.
  • So Andrew Shaw not only continues to do nothing on the first power play unit, but actually nullifies an advantage early with a brainless penalty and keeps getting thrown out there. Meanwhile the second unit lacks a center actually playing center as well as a playmaker from the wall, but Teuvo rots on the bench. Ok.
  • Is everyone going to get their tough guy boners out and feel great about themselves when the Hawks have a bag skate tomorrow or Thursday because of this after the Vegas trip? Very likely. Because nothing screams “a nation first settled by Puritans” like taking pleasure in seeing a good time punished.
  • Jason Zucker is fast. Maybe the entire Hawks defensive corps will remember that next time.
  • While realizing I’m in the minority, I actually believe a relatively sizeable trade is coming at least as far as Stan Bowman, Al McIsaac, et al are concerned. There is a precedent for it. In 2010, on the verge of Cap Hell 1.0 after the new paper for Kane, Toews, and Keith all kicking in and having a veteran center on a 1-year, win-now deal in John Madden, an actual roster player was moved for a high priced rental. Though he turned out to be garbage, the book wasn’t fully out on Cam Barker just yet as a #3 overall pick still yet to play 200 pro games, and Kim Jonsson gave the Hawks a puck mover on every pair. Nick Leddy (sky point) getting thrown in was just robbery on a comical level. And though Jonsson didn’t work out (don’t believe the rumors, he would have surfaced somewhere were it not a catastrophic concussion), it showed a willingness from the Hawks front office to seize an opportunity. This year’s situation mirrors that of five years ago, which is why it makes sense that something could actually get done.
  • By the time the next game rolls around, it will have been a week since the Hawks have scored a goal. That’s fun.
  • Hey, at least Corey Crawford looked sharp. The double save on Zucker and whoever had the follow up shot with the toe and then the shoulder respectively as Brent Seabrook dug for snacks under Crawford’s ass in the crease was as impressive a highlight has he’s ever had.

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