Ah, that old first home game after a trip bugaboo. It finally bit the Hawks, even though as McClure pointed out in the preview they’ve actually been pretty good in this situation over the years. Whatever the case, the Hawks’ legs/sense of give a shit/both weren’t quite where they needed to be and an inspired Wild team that was watching its season get awfully icky in a hurry was able to get a deserved win.
The tale for the Hawks is familiar to all by now, and you could write the next few sentences from memory. The Hawks only had a chance at points because of the same factors. Kane scores. The second line is the only consistently dangerous one. A couple moments of individual brilliance. The special teams come up big. Crawford holds them in for the stretch of game where they’re getting badly outplayed. Rinse. Repeat. But none of these are sustainable models for success, and it wasn’t tonight. It’s 25 games now, and the Hawks remain a one-line, one-pairing team. 25 games is bordering on not being a trend anymore.
Shall we go? Yes, let us go.
The Two Obs
-You heard Pat and Eddie constantly talking about how the Minnesota D was so active in the offensive zone, and that’s not the first or last time the Hawks will see that until they make a trade for a 2nd pairing d-man.
No team has to fear that the Hawks can regain the puck quickly enough or pass the puck up the ice quickly enough when their 2nd and 3rd pairings are on the ice to catch an aggressive d-man. It’s why some teams have chosen to just sit their d-men on the blue line and not back up, and why some have and will just completely let their d-men off the leash. Seeing as how the Hawks’ 3-6 blue liners were a combined -19 in Corsi tonight, clearly it worked.
-Jonathan Toews managed two glorious chances in the 1st and had three scoring chances in that frame as well as three attempts. He had one of each the rest of the way. He was badly negative in possession. Toews Fatigue Watch is officially on, if it wasn’t already. Of course, having two lunkheaded bowling balls as his wingers isn’t really helping the cause.
-That said, it was Keith and Hammer on the ice for both goals against, though not entirely their fault. The first one they didn’t notice Granlund behind them near the net, getting him a few whacks in a scramble that Pominville cashed in after Hammer was too far toward the circles. On the winner, Keith has to read that Anisimov was already beat out of the zone by Granlund, which he did but just a second too late, but so does Hammer who can’t go flying out toward Parise at the boards.
But then, Keith’s set-up for Kane was evidence of the immediate defensive pressure he can provide even in the offensive zone. Sadly, he’s the only one who can.
-The “third” line was the only unit all above water. The 4th line is a waste of time. Teuvo gets 10 minutes to watch Kero, Mashinter thrash about, and Catbutt and Shaw waste the time he should be getting. This is getting close to stunting his growth. Q and the Hawks have always been more concerned with a player’s floor than their ceiling, but that was when the veterans on the team set both of those higher than they are now. This is a team screaming for more inspiration offensively, and it’s third or fourth more talented player can only get burn with a road block and a guy who was at Michigan Tech this time last year. Kruger between Hossa and Dano is not going to solve the offensive problems.
-A word on “The Sign.” While I hesitate to give it more time than it deserves in public view (which is none), it’ll make it easier to illustrate my points. So…
This isn’t to indict the producers on CSN who have mere seconds to interpret everything on screen, and from what I’m told this was unfurled mid-shot. Nor do I want to totally air dry this woman, because the subject of how some young women deal with these issues is really complicated and quite simply beyond anything I can speak about with any authority whatsoever.
I don’t even want to fully state that this is the kind of feeling the Hawks have fostered by their handling of everything in the summer and fall, even if I feel that way. You could argue (however effectively) that trying to get out one message of what is acceptable behavior from your fans while protecting your player is a conflict. It’s murky, though should have been done. But I’ll let it go to say…
This is an opportunity for the Hawks to finally show any ounce of caring toward the section of their fans that remain uncomfortable/unhappy, of which I’m one. There is nothing stopping them from tweeting tomorrow, or whatever fashion they want, that this kind of sign is not acceptable at their games. It is simply no different than the cement heads who show up in headdresses, that sadly the Hawks have done nothing about either. While they can’t thought police their fanbase, they are absolutely responsible for the atmosphere that they create, or allowed to be created, in their arena. And before anyone starts reaching for “1st AMMENDMENT!” screeches, the Hawks are not the government.
Because it’s this kind of sign, this kind of feeling that makes people at best uncomfortable about being Hawks fans and around them, It is not welcoming. The Hawks would hurt absolutely no one by condemning this sort of thing, except for maybe a couple of mouth-breathing idiots who do not need protecting. It would at least show a half-hearted attempt to demonstrate that they take this kind of thing seriously, which they did try to claim once upon a time. It would not in any way indict their player. Reducing all of this to a joke hurts people, and they’re all on Twitter if you want to see.
And I know how this makes people feel because I’m one of them. We’ve had enough voices on here saying it. I stood outside tonight after dropping off the programs, with my tickets unsold. I strongly considered attending for the first time tonight this season. Because I want to. Or, more accurately, I want to want to again. And yet, there’s still that nagging discomfort with what I might feel or find in there, and that was before I saw this during the 2nd period. I gave them to my vendors and headed home. And that just makes me sad.
There’s still a chance for the Hawks to try and make up the ground. But I’m not going to sit on a hot stove waiting for them to do so.