We all look at things differently but sometimes winning a game isn’t indicative of a great performance by the victor.
The Hawks did tighten up their defensive coverage in the final twenty minutes but Dallas still had very good chances to score. After the Stars struck for their third goal the Hawks were often back on their heels. Going into the last period the Hawks didn’t have the swagger of a winner but they were able to come through. Maybe they can use the victory to gain confidence.
The 5-3 win over Dallas was a big two points for the Blackhawks although it wasn’t a complete performance. What was most impressive was that secondary scoring accounted for three of Chicago’s five goals and Cory Crawford didn’t wilt when the going got tough.
Hawk fans, those in the media and bloggers search for answers as to why this team has been so erratic. The good news is the entire Western Conference appears the same way. Detroit can play the most consistent style of play and appears to be a cut above the rest, but they aren’t perfect.
Last season the Blackhawks were a very confident group. Some players felt they should get more ice time and a few had legitimate gripes. So there was always an air of cockiness which Joel Quenneville controlled. Without question there was a lot of competition between teammates.
Some of the 2009-2010 guys thought they should receive more power play time. Others wanted to play on the second line rather than as a third liner. The result was a group which always pushed each other, so it was easier to stay focused. Last season, the Hawks didn’t lose three games in a row in regulation until the final weeks. Now the team is split into two distinct groups, there is a different kind of motivation required.
So when the Hawks are forced to play without Marian Hossa and Patrick Kane any victory is a good victory. It would be difficult for any team to play at the same level without two scorers which account for close to 20% of their total goals.
Even with those two players in the lineup the Hawks can’t play as quickly at as high of a level as they did last season. They can for stretches of time but on most nights they don’t sustain the pace for an entire game.
In essence the Hawks aren’t yet good enough to stick with an effective style of play for 60 minutes and that makes them vulnerable. Losing focus with a big lead is not anything new, but carelessness will prove more costly because this group is not as talented as last year’s club.
It appears Joel Quenneville has to stress defense to his troops more so than ever. By playing a tighter checking game gives the Hawks the best chance of winning. This group can’t hold onto the puck as long. Their puck possession game still needs work. But it is hard to change the behavior of some, especially when they have been successful before. Thinking offense first worked fine when the Hawks could easily outscore many opponents, but those days are over.
When Dallas mounted their comeback it was the Toews’ line on the ice for two goals and Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook were victimized three times. Corey Crawford allowed a bad goal on the Stars first strike, but he was very good in the third period. The Hawks difficulties involve more than looking for individual mistakes.
Lessons are still being learned by some of the Blackhawks. The jury is out on how fast the new guys can learn, or if some will be able to become solid NHL players. Thus there is more pressure on the more experienced Hawks.
Dallas has been one of the better teams in the Western Conference but they were in the midst of playing 10 games in a 19 day span. The Stars spent an off day off in Chicago on Tuesday and judging from their awful start in the contest, they weren’t in bed early. The Dallas cause wasn’t helped due to the recent injury suffered by their starting goalie Kari Lehtonen.
Andrew Raycroft started against the Hawks, and during the first period he was beer league bad. Raycroft’s glove couldn’t have been much slower. The Hawks would have scored four times instead of twice in the opening frame but Raycroft was saved by the goal post.
Beside shabby goal keeping the Stars also had to contend with some questionable officiating. You won’t find this comment on NHL Live or probably by reading most Hawk blogs, but the Stars were the victim of some questionable officiating decisions.
The last miscue by the zebras was in the closing seconds when Brent Seabrook threw his stick towards Trevor Daley who beat him on the play. Seabrook fell and it looked like he went to swipe the puck away from the Stars’ forward but his stick came out of his hand. It is quite possible the stick slipped out of Seabrook’s hand but the act doesn’t have to be intentional to warrant an infraction. The referee’s overlooked Seabrook’s stick throwing which should have resulted in a penalty shot.
The Dallas TV crew commented after the game, the same official, who wasn’t Dave Jackson, called every penalty on Dallas. I don’t know if Dean Morton had his focus only on the Stars. But, beside the Dowell-Ott fight, the Stars were issued six penalties while the Hawks were whistled only once. On the Hawks first goal it looked like goal tender interference should have been called on Jack Skille, but the goal stood.
It would have been an awful loss if the Hawks would have blown a three goal lead on home ice. But results matter and the Hawks survived.
Sometimes it isn’t only a matter of whom you’re playing but when you’re playing them.
When the Hawks put a beat down on the Canucks in Vancouver, they just had returned from an East coast road trip.
The Sharks have been playing better of late, and the Hawks will face them this weekend after they have finished their East coast tour on Thursday night.
Quite possibly Dave Bolland has awoken and has found his game. Lately Bolland has been better, still not back to top form, but better.
Maybe the Hawks have finally found an effective third line.
Troy Brouwer and Bryan Bickell have kept it simple and played physical. Bickell has shown he can score some goals with his nice wrist shot when given space. The two have played well and led the Hawks with five hits each.
Jeremy Morin will get better as his nerves calm down and it was nice to see him score his first NHL goal. He will be a better player as he physically matures. The Hawks will have him on a weight program this summer and next year Morin will be bigger and stronger.
I think it would be best for Morin to play in WJHC later this month, but I don’t know if the Hawks will let him go.
The Hawks may need Morin, especially with the injuries and because the playoff race is so tight. The Hawks may not want to risk sending Morin to the tourney because he could suffer an injury and then they would be down another forward. In a perfect world Morin should play in the WJHC.
As far as more help coming from Rockford…There isn’t much.
Kyle Beach wouldn’t fit with his cap hit. Plus, before he can get promoted he should be able to dress in every Ice Hog game. It appears Beach hasn’t been dialed in lately.
If Igor Makarov was ready he probably would have already gotten a chance in Chicago. During the last couple of weeks, John Scott’s fighting skills were seldom needed. But at this point Scott will stay in the lineup until everyone gets healthy.
Jake Dowell showed some class when he didn’t drill Steve Ott when he slipped during their scrap. A standup player won’t hit an opponent when they are on the ice.
Dowell gets called on to fight because teams won’t challenge Scott. Dowel will have more fights this season than Scott. Not only will Dowell play in more games but Scott won’t find many more takers.
One word of caution…Dowell has fought in the last couple of games even though the Hawks were winning. The young center needs to learn when to say no.
Viktor Stalberg didn’t play in the third period. I don’t think he was hurt…more a case of Q. showing some tough love as Stalberg was a -2.
John Scott played his best game as a Hawk, but still only saw the ice for one shift in the last period.
I think Wednesday’s contest featured the most hits in one game at the UC this season…36 for the Stars, 35 for the Hawks.
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