Memories and Warning Signs

As the year comes to an end memories come to my mind. Five years ago, when I began to blog, the Hawks were following the same script as they did for years. Players better suited to play on third line were jammed into top line spots, and others on the roster always seemed to be overmatched. 

Basically players were not put in a position to succeed and more often than not the team wasn’t successful. Almost always it was not a case of players not providing effort. Mostly the wrong type of effort came about because players were asked to perform beyond their capabilities. It became difficult to watch because the outcome was so predictable and the losses continued to mount. 

Years ago many of my blogs included questions. There was so much uncertainty because the picture was always cloudy. The questions needed to be asked but the correct answers were not always obvious. 

After the recent injuries and this summer’s salary cap purge the Blackhawks haven’t come full circle but there are some disturbing similarities.  

Let’s start with a few questions. 

Has a team which leads the league in goal against in the third period ever qualified for the playoffs? 

Since 2000 it hasn’t happened, and probably seldom if ever before that period.

Last year the Anaheim Ducks came rather close, as they missed qualifying for the playoffs by six points. 

Teams which hold the ominous honor of leading in third period goals against usually finish near the bottom of their respective conferences. Normally they aren’t considered good hockey teams. 

Currently the Blackhawks lead the NHL with 47 goals against in the third period. After looking at past results, 47 goals against in the final frame is a high total after 39 games. Usually even the worse teams don’t finish with more than 100 third period goals against for the entire year. This season, the lowly New York Islanders have allowed five fewer goals in the third frame than the Blackhawks. 

Let that sink in for a minute. 

Is it just me…Or does it seem like Tomas Kopecky is always on the ice? 

Kopecky reminds me of Hawk players from the past who were in over their head. Really Kopecky can’t be faulted because he is trying. But the more Kopecky tries the more mistakes happen. 

He can’t play center effectively. Besides making 10 foot passes to Marian Hossa, Kopecky usually isn’t able to make a play. When he does do something good, like the assist on the Patrick Sharp goal he follows it up with dumb hockey, a bad penalty and frequent poor passes. 

Kopecky is not being put into a position to succeed and most on the coaching staff and in the front office must know the same. But sometimes there isn’t a better option and Kopecky is not the only player who is now overmatched. 

Unless Joel Quenneville has forgotten how to coach, Kopecky wouldn’t be taking important faceoffs. Some of the line combinations and ice time distribution has been curious. Maybe Quenneville is being forced to stick with certain players. Or simply there is no other choice for the head coach or Stan Bowman. 

This club was built around top players and when they are injured things seem to crumble quickly.

Even the loss of Fernando Pisani is significant because it changes line combinations. 

If Pisani were healthy, maybe Brouwer would go to the top line and Dowell would become the third line center. That could mean Kopecky would play wing alongside Ryan Johnson on the fourth line. It could also mean Kopecky wouldn’t play 17 minutes a night and take important faceoffs. Not to mention always being used on the power play. 

But now Quenneville’s hand is forced or there is another agenda I don’t understand. 

If there are still any believers in Rockford Ice Hog help, stop kidding yourself. In my book Jeremy Morin should be here but most likely no one else. In a perfect situation Morin would stay in Rockford and maybe come up towards the playoffs. But the Hawks are certainly not a playoff lock and Morin could be needed sooner. 

Sometimes players with affordable contracts are cheap for a reason and it isn’t because they are a bargain. 

Look no further than the Hawks third pairing, of Nick Boynton and Jassen Cullimore

Cullimore has played more responsibly than Boynton but the combination of the two is scary. They are playing for near minimum salaries and could still pass through waivers a dozen times before a claim would be entered. 

So far Marty Turco has been what I expected, some games very good other times sub-par. For the most Turco has been adequate, but on a struggling team just ok usually isn’t good enough. 

Turco took more than a $4 million pay cut to come to the Blackhawks, but I wouldn’t consider him a bargain.  

When Turco looks slow going from post to post, or can’t secure rebounds he appears fairly priced. Many of his acrobatic great saves come as a result of poor rebound control and the inability to secure pucks in goal mouth scrambles. 

On Thursday night the stage appeared to be set for a Blackhawks come from behind victory. 

The Sharks are one of the best faceoff teams in the NHL but the Hawks were better at the dot last night. 

Antti Niemi wasn’t at the top of his game which meant a lot because Turco wasn’t great either. In essence neither goalie would help a team which was outplayed steal a win. So all the Hawks had to do was win the final twenty minutes. 

The Blackhawks played a more physical game and outhit the Sharks by 19. Bear in mind the team without the puck does most of the hitting but the Hawks answered the Sharks’ physical challenge. 

The Hawks scored a fluke goal and one which beat the horn by less than a second to even the score at the end of forty minutes. A little luck never hurts. 

The Hawks did show up, they came with a renewed sense of determination, but in the end the wrong type of effort resulted. Two more home ice points were squandered and the Blackhawks record when tied going into the third period stands at 2-7-1. Out of a possible 20 available points in that situation, the Hawks have captured only five. 

The better teams, those which are playoff bound usually get stronger as the game goes on.  

Those clubs don’t make mental mistakes due to fatigue or inexperience late in games because they know how to win. Winning teams don’t take careless penalties because they are out of position and get caught reaching. Confident winning clubs play with the same effectiveness throughout a contest and don’t appear to scramble when the game is on the line. 

Last night the Hawks wanted to win, it wasn’t the same lay down effort that happened in St. Louis. They just weren’t good enough to seal deal.  

Al’s Shots 

Last night’s game was poorly officiated, bad calls for each team. 

The Seabrook hooking penalty was an awful call. 

The Hawks finished December 6-5-1. That isn’t good enough especially considering eight games were on home ice. 

For January the Hawks will play 11 times with seven games to be held at the UC. 

I caught the game at home last night and Edzo said the Hawks should shoot for one game over .500 while Jonathan Toews is out.

That’s probably a realistic goal but if that were to happen it could mean another wasted month.

Let’s say Toews returns January 15, which would mean he misses six more games.

Considering the upcoming competition and their current injuries the next six games might be the Hawks softest stretch for the rest of the season.

The next two games will be on the road while the following four will be at home.

Here are the next six opponents, the Ducks, Kings, Stars, Senators, Islanders and Avalanche.

Even without the captain the Hawks need to win at least four of six.

The Hawks record for January needs to be better than December.

After January only 12 of the final 32 games will be played at home.

When teams do things they haven’t done in decades it is time to take notice. Last year’s Hawks’ team immediately comes to mind.

The other night the Canucks skated into Philly and beat the Flyers. That is the first time Vancouver has won in Philly in 21 years. Granted they don’t play every year but still a significant win.

Vancouver could be the class of the West, although Detroit won’t go away.

The Sharks are good enough to have beaten the Hawks three times in a row but they seem to be a couple of players short of the Canucks and Wings.

2010 was a tremendous year for the Blackhawks and their fans.

Unfortunately the story hasn’t been as rosy this season.

To end on a positive note there are a few good things to report.

Eddie O. and Pat Foley have signed a three year contract extension.

The second printing of ‘One Goal’ will be released by the end of January.

Finally, the players will be accompanied by their mothers on the two game road trip to California.

Hopefully 2011 will be filled with positive on ice events.

To All…..A Happy and Healthy New Year

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  1. SavvyOne says:

    Al, you make some great points. I just had the Turco conversation with my Dad. My point here is that the guy is fundamentally flawed and as a result, he downgrades the team’s on-ice abilities. He is seldom square to the shooter, loses his net quite frequently, flops unnecessarily putting himself out of position and unable to recover. Finally, his supposed puck-handling prowess is the 1st and most fatal flaw. When Turco is in net, it seems like not just the D but the team somewhat stands still, trying to figure out what he is going to do with the puck.

    Will he skate out and try to make a long pass, as he did last night when he put the puck right into Ferrio? Without Keith’s heroic effort to slide in front of the shot, that’s likely a goal. And there is my beef with this guy. Fundamentally flawed. Just watch the D stop and stand around waiting to see if they’ve got to outrace someone to a puck or whether Turco is going to move it to them or somewhere else. I don’t care what anyone says, the proof of this is in the results — the D quite frequently get beat to the puck because they’ve stopped moving. And they are caught out of position for that same reason.

    Any smart fan knows this might be the most important and basic lesson taught as players mature: how to break out of their own zone. Turco fundamentally f’s this up time and again. You just don’t see this happening when C2 is in net. Guys know what to expect and most of the time they do their job. IMO, having Turco in next exposes a host of flaws that we know exist (starting at the face-off dot with Toews out). To me, it’s like throwing gas on a smoldering fire!

    Also, like you I have no idea of WTF either StanBow or Q are thinking by having Scott in the lineup over Hendry or (last night) Skille? The guy is a total waste — his skating is so poor and he is so slow that he cannot check anyone — and yet Q continues to foist this guy on the team. Marching orders from above?

    • CBH1619 says:

      there are a few things that everyone who watches the ‘hawks, on a regular basis, knows.

      john scott should never play, unless injuries warrant it.(they currently do)

      Tomas kopecky personifies 4th line talent and should never play more than 7-8 minutes a night and never ever see PP time.

      Marty Turco is a back-up goal tender. plain and simple

      Cory Crawford is without a doubt your #1

      nick Boynton should have retired. I’m not sure what he brings to the team. Jordan Hendry needs to be paired with Culli.

      So if this is blatantly obvious to me and to the rest of you,who watch regularly and are not hockey illiterate, then why are these facts opaque to Q?

      I cannot believe that Q doesn’t know what he has, in terms of talent, in that locker room. He sees them day in and day out. And i don’t want to believe that he is that stupid.

      so that leaves the only other possibility that there is an obfuscated power structure at 1901 W Madison. Someone in the front office makes the decisions on who plays, who sits, and where they play.

      unfortunately for us fans, those are the only two possible options as to why we see these head scratching personnel moves.

      A blithering idiot for a coach…

      OR

      A lame duck coach who doesn’t get to make obvious line-up decisions, because the team is being run by someone from upstairs, whose knowledge on marketing vastly outweighs what little they know about the game of hockey.

      personally, i think its the latter.

      • Living the Cup says:

        Q just signed a new 3 yr. contract extension didn’t he?

        I don’t think he is a lame duck coach, I think he’s making the decisions on who plays and how much but I do think he’s too tied to certain players and perhaps is waiting for them to do what he is hoping for.

        Move on Q I say. See my post below.

        • Al Cimaglia says:

          I didn’t read your post first….yep either three or four years.

          Actually, I think he will be here four more years, including this season.

      • Al Cimaglia says:

        Well you bring up good points but Q. is not a lame duck coach, but I get your point…He just signed an extension for I believe 4 more years…

        But some of the lineup choices are interesting.

        Q. does favor vets….And when a younger player falls out of favor… sometimes he stays with his opinion for a long time.

        • CBH1619 says:

          so Q is stubborn to the point where he becomes detrimental to the Win column?

          if that is indeed the case, then I certainly hope that Q does not treat perishable items in his fridge the same way he coaches a hockey team.
          “Ah shit the milk is spoiled, well I’ll just put this back in the fridge…maybe it will be better tomorrow”.

    • Al Cimaglia says:

      Just watch the D stop and stand around waiting to see…

      You touched upon the point most miss when Turco was signed.

      Every once and awhile he can spring a forward who has gotten behind the defense on a slow line change.

      But Turco’s usefullness in distributing the puck to our top four defenders is over rated.

      Especially Campbell,Keith and Seabrook…They want to pick the puck up and turn to fire a stretch pass…Thye don’t want to stop and wait and turn around.

      • SavvyOne says:

        Al,
        You are the only blogger I’ve seen that understands this about the way Turco plays affects the team. This is fundamental — it’s what is taught at the earliest levels and as a player progresses, coaches continue to work on this most important aspect of the game. Without a good breakout, you will have very little chance of having a winning team.

        Why was Brian Campbell so important to the Hawks when they finally got him back in the Nashville series? Without Soupy, their breakout was horrible.

        What we get now with Turco in net are D-men flat-footed while opposing forwards continue to skate hard on the forecheck. Much rather have D skating flat-out to the puck and using years of being coached what to do next.

        • Al Cimaglia says:

          Today, for many teams offense starts with the defense.

          The Hawks are a prime example….They have three of the best tape to tape passers on D….But they need the puck and have to be in motion looking up ice to hit the long stretch passes.

          That’s why the Hawks had the best transition game in the NHL.

          They have not been as succesful this year…Turco has something to do with it, as does all of the new players.

          You can’t keep the puck and play quickly if you don’t pass well.

          • Living the Cup says:

            When Turco came into the league D men could basically interfere with the forecheckers giving the goalies time to move the puck. Brodeur was of course the best at this.

            But that was then – the way the game is played now I agree with the sentiments being posted – there is really no benefit, probably a detriment to goalies playing the puck when the D men are being pressured going back to pick it up.

            Turco’s style (not to mention his size) has been passed by.

  2. Living the Cup says:

    Agreed Al – if the Hawks are to make the playoffs they’ve got to overcome Toews being out, not only to hold their own in the standings but to build some confidence for a strong push when JT does return.

    The potential is there for the wheels to come completely off.

    Your points about players being asked to do more than they realistically can is bang on re: Kopecky, Boynton et. al.

    Also I would include with that asking 11 forwards to do the work of 12 in the third period. There are a host of problems I know that has made the Hawks the NHL’s worst 3rd period team but one that could be easily fixed is having 12 forwards available to play in the 3rd period so you are not double shifting guys – asking again for them to do too much. (last night it was really 10 forwards since Hendry played very little as well)

    This is a direct reference to Scott – at least Skille can play in the 3rd Scott can’t.

    Q has to answer for this – I don’t think Stan tells him who to play. There is no good reason that I can see for Scott over Skille. I think Q is trying to teach Skille a lesson about consistency – it better work because we need all hands on deck particularly in the 3rd.

    Depth is a huge factor – often the top players on each team neutralize each other and the bottom of each line up can be a deciding factor. I think our guys are tiring just a little in the 3rd because we’re only playing 11 players up front.

    We’re already hurting with Toews, Pisani and CC out so Q should be looking to even the workload out a bit instead of overplaying certain players because he can’t play Scott.

    I’ve been a big supporter of Q’s up until now but he’s losing me with his insistence on playing Scott. C’mon Q it’s time to get serious – the season could slip away in the next 6-7 games!!

  3. Al Cimaglia says:

    Normally, and I believe was the case here once Tallon left….Q. is the one who chooses the lineup.

    The GM provides the players for the roster…Then especially with a veteran head coach, except in certain circumstances, he fills out the lineup and determines playing time.

    • g-texas says:

      watching 24/7 i was surprised to see the gms so involved.. do games in the playoffs count against the 10 game trials for rookies?

      • Al Cimaglia says:

        Do you mean if a player is brought up at the end of the season to be used in case of an injury in the playoffs….

        Like a Black Ace?

  4. Living the Cup says:

    Al – Re: who is responsible for who plays on a given night and why Scott.

    As I read the various posts and try to figure out why Scott continues to play over Johnson vs. St. Louis and Skille vs. SJ and others in other games I am now suspecting that at the end of last year Q went to Stan and asked for an enforcer.

    That would explain why he insists on playing him despite other options – because he asked for him.

    If this is the case I hope Q is not so stubborn as to not be able to admit a mistake.

    • Al Cimaglia says:

      Normally the head coach can play who he wants…especially a Cup winning veteran head coach.

      Now there are exceptions, for example when a GM will want to showcase a player …Because he is trying to move him via trade and needs him to play.

      That is not the reason Scott is playing.

  5. Michael says:

    I don’t know about anybody else, but this team just looks like it has an air of contentment to it. When you see guys getting interviewed after some bad loses, I don’t really see anybody all that upset over it. I’m not saying it’s life and death, or that these guys should all be going on some tirade after every loss, but I just don’t sense anybody being too worried about where they are right now. It looks and sounds to me as if this team thinks that somehow, someway, everything will be alright, they will make the playoffs and then just turn it on from there. It almost seems to me as if they think because they won the cup last year that they automatically have a playoff spot locked up this year. Not only do I not see any anger, I don’t see any concern or desperation. This to me is very bothersome. This team has given away a boatload of points it should have banked thus far this year and it’s going to be real interesting to see how this team reacts come March when they are scrambling for their playoff lives trying to win every game and most likely, hoping their Western Conference foes are losing theirs. I wasn’t expecting this team to win the Cup this year, but I never dreamed they would not make the playoffs. Too me, not making the playoffs this year doesn’t void out the fact they won the Stanley Cup last year, but it does take some of the luster off of it. I remember the 85 Bears and after they won the Super Bowl I was sure they’d win another two or three championships. What’s worse is that they consistently made the playoffs every year after they won the first one, so they were in position to win more. Well, it never happened and I know whenever people bring up the 85 Bears, they say, “Man, that was an awesome team. How come they only won that one Championship?” Now I realize the Hawks had to make a ton of roster changes that the Bears didn’t, but my point is missing the playoffs one year after winning a championship is really not good for your organization no matter how you try to spin it. It’s also surprising to me that Rocky, McDonaugh and Stan were not shy being out in the public eye with interviews during the teams success last year, but have barely been visible or so much as uttered a single word about the team thus far this year.

    • New York Nicky says:

      For the record, I was a season ticket holder at the old stadium from 1984-1994 Iwas watching the Chelios Heritage night from a couple weeks ago and watching his 3-4 minute highlight reel. It reminded me of how hockey USED to be played at the old stadium when an opponent came into Chicago for a road game. Gloves in your face, banging them into the boards, and even YES, a fight that was not “staged” (IE: Scott)…we know he’s tough but come on fight when we need you to (like when somebody runs your goalie or takes liberty with Toews). My biggest concerns with this team is what was said by a prior post that this team’s contentment with losing at home (in the 3rd period). SOMEBODY MUST GET PISSED OFF WITH THIS…and more impotantly SAY IT!!!!

      Believe me visiting teams are in awe by the singing of the national anthem but after that the Hawks should be running their asses into every board when they have the opportunity…(get the fans behind you for all 60 minutes). I saw last nights game, it really did not seem to me that the Hawks out hit the Sharks by that much as the numbers indicated because “none of them were worth remembering”!

      BTW, is Kaner back? I thought he was an “allstar” or did he leave part of his game in Niagra Falls celebrating the cup?

      I hope they turn it around starting with Sunday……Have a Happy New Year!

      Niko

  6. Al Cimaglia says:

    I could see how you would feel that way….But I think the players for the most part realize this won’t be easy.

    Campbell gave a post game interview last night on WGN radio.

    If possible try to find it and listen to him….

    He sounded very concerned and wasn’t shy about bringing up how tough it will be to make the playoffs in the Western Conference.

  7. Dave Morris says:

    Al, thanks again for your excellent work this year.

    2011 is going to a real test for Blackhawks faithful.

    Having had a team go in spectacular fashion from out of the playoffs to the Stanley Cup in just three seasons is a major accomplishment.

    In terms of memories, a few things come to mind…

    No Stanley Cup winner since the lockout that has gone out and dominated the opposition the following year, let alone win a second consecutive Championship. Only two have been back to the Finals in that time.

    In fact, look at the Finalists since 2004-05. Where have they been since, and where are they now?

    Calgary, Tampa, Edmonton and Carolina have suffered through lean years; Ottawa and Anaheim have been mediocre. Philly finally arrived after several excruciating seasons. Only Detroit and Pittsburgh have stayed strong since their recent runs, and it can be argued Chicago is still in the mix this year. So out of ten so-called ‘elite’ clubs, only a few have maintained their ‘elite’ status.

    That’s the NHL in the salary cap era.

    Some fans expect a repeat performance by the Hawks; but management has already been clear that this season is one of transition.

    Last night was neither a good nor bad game by the Blackhawks. Turco isn’t Crawford; they clearly miss Toews and Pisani; and probably the energy and skill of Jeremy Morin.

    As for Scott playing instead of Skille…Skille was *totally* ineffective against the Blues. So he sat; and Scott, who, as you pointed out, was actually one of the better Hawks, got another turn on the 4th line, a total of seven shifts, 3:48 TOI and three hits. Jordan Hendry got almost twice as much ice time, no SOGs and one hit.

    Until the Hawks have a fully healthy roster again, the line juggling and the inconsistency will be the only consistent things about this team.

    As you say, a guy like Kopecky isn’t equipped to be a Top 6 guy, and the only reason he’s plugged into the lineup there, is because the Hawks are short-staffed.

    There are some moves starting to happen around the league, and Bowman may have identified the players he’s considering as upgrades.

    Still more than half a season left. Anything can happen.

  8. Michael says:

    Al,

    I did not hear the Campbell interview, but it’s good to know that at least one guy on the team is being realistic and has spoken out on the danger this team faces of missing the playoffs. I’m sure there are some players that do realize how tough things are going to be from here on out, but I still can’t help feeling that those thoughts aren’t permeating through the whole team and maybe even management. On a side note, I can only imagine how Turco feels. He gave up considerably more money to come here instead of a team like Philadelphia. How bizarre that Philly is having a great year and even his old team, the Stars, are playing very well, while the Hawks are facing the embarrassment of going from Stanley Cup champs to missing the playoffs. I’m not giving up on them yet, but it’s getting late in the game and every loss, every missed opportunity to get points, only makes things look more dire. Finally, great job with your articles Al. You always bring up great points and I respect your opinions. I always look forward to reading them and I appreciate the fact that you will often take the time to respond to a lot of posters, whether you agree with their opinion or not. Happy New Year to you,

  9. pucksnut says:

    Hi Al,

    interesting reading all of the comments here. I was at the game last night and am a season ticket holder, it is getting painful watching John Scott and Marty Turco. It is my belief that this is going to be a throw away year, the hawks are truly handicapped with the salary cap this year they are operating with a 54 million cap to everyone else with 59 mil. If everything went well meaning no injuries they could have made a good run, but that hasn’t happened. I am hoping next year with cap flexibility they will field a better complimentary cast around the core. when you are playing two defensemen on your fourth line you aren’t going to be too successful. I would rather see some players from Rockford get some experience than what we are being forced to endure. Losing Toews exposes just how thin they are at center, Kopecky is NOT a center and not a top six forward. I believe Sharp should be at center until Toews gets back, that would be Sharp, Bolland,Johnson and Dowell as your four centerman. thanks for the forum to vent here its been tough to go from a stanley cup champ to an average team in a matter of a few months, but I hope next year will be a better year.

    • Al Cimaglia says:

      I think you have been reading for awhile and I have tried to point out some potential issues….

      Unfortunately you are probably on target if the injury bug keeps biting.

      Scott is doing what he knows how to do but that roster spot shoud have been used on a veteran player who knows what it takes to win game in and game out.

      The Hawks gave a up talent this summer but they also gave up a lot of winning experience.

  10. adam F says:

    Hey Al.

    Great work. And of course, Happy new Year.

    The Campbell interview was a very good listen. For all the grief the guy gets over his contract a lot of people seem to ignore the fact that he’s gotten better every year he’s been here, both offensively and defensively. He’s also become more of a leader. I was actually a little surprised he didn’t get the third A when Toews went down. I say little because third alternate captain……But when he talked about how you need to start using your legs and keep your stick on the ice, that way ticky tac questionable hooking and high sticking calls aren’t even made, he’s 100% dead on. Those were penalties 2 years ago that he use to take and he doesn’t anymore. And Ugg and Thug, as I like to call our 3rd pairing, would be wise to follow that advice. Maybe the signing of Olsen will light a fire under them.

    The mystery to me is why Duncan Keith is a -13 when Turco plays and a +6 when Crawford plays. That’s just inexcusable as far as I’m concerned.

    I thought the Kopecky-Hossa-Stalberg line ( or as some have opined, the Euro trash line…) was really good at fighting in the corners and winning loose puck battles. and I fell over to learn that Kopecky was our best at the dot last night. I still don’t have him take that draw with 1 minute remaining. But I thought your analysis of Kopecky was pretty spot on.

    I still see a strong 2nd half. This team is too talented. Yes, even with the so-called “purge” this team is still talented. The hill is steeper but so what. This is the defending Stanley Cup champions, they’re allowed to go on a nonsensical good run.

    Again, Happy New year to you, that Morris guy and all the other people who make this a great site to visit.

    Adam

    • Al Cimaglia says:

      Thanks Adam…

      The mystery to me is why Duncan Keith is a -13 when Turco plays and a +6 when Crawford plays. That’s just inexcusable as far as I’m concerned.

      I guess you have to pick a side….

      What comes first the soft goals, bad rebound control from Turco….Or Mistakes from Keith??

      Keith could never be called a crease clearer….

      His positional play hasn’t been great at times but the longer pucks are loose in the blue paint the more chance for a goal against.

      And that happens a lot more when Turco plays.

  11. Living the Cup says:

    …and same to you and everyone else!!

    Happy New Year – and Go Hawks!

  12. rock says:

    Well Turco has had a handful of awful this year. He also stole a handful at the beginning of the year when the rest of the team was abysmal.

    I agree he shouldn’t get the lions share of the play but in terms of being a positive influence for Crawford and good enough to eat a few games he is fine. Its not like soft goals and an egg every 4 games should come as a surprise. I would say he needs to adjust his style of play when Soup and Keith are on the ice and just let them have the puck but other than that if he wins 55% of his games I an live with it.

    While the complaints about Scott, Boynton, and Skille are more than justified there unfortunately isn’t much else in the 2 for 5 DVD bin right now. Those guys are who they are. Unless half of Rockford gets promoted. And who knows if that will mitigate the problem.

    Kopecky is a black hole and turn over machine. Plain and simple. Can he please sit sometime soon?

    Hossa is 1 goal in the last 17 games. Someone should make a commercial. Kind of a rough patch there and maybe a cause for concern?

    Still 5 points separate the 10th spot (Hawks) and the 3rd spot. Not quite panic time… yet…

  13. RJF says:

    Turco- the knock on him over in Dallas the last few years was that he was inconsistent, so I guess maybe it shouldn’t be a surprise here. In fact, when asked why Dallas is doing so good this year, consistency in net with Lehtonen is brought up and the fact that players are playing better in front of him!

  14. Al Cimaglia says:

    Good points Rock…

    Not quite panic time but getting close…..

    And as you pointed out and Dave Morris in his blog…

    The best player should be the best player and Hossa has been too quiet for too long.

    I wouln’t focus so much on the points between teams yet…This is more a question of what the Hawks need to accomplish in the next 43 games….

    The Hawks will need to earn at least 51 points….

    It still isn’t panic time but anyone who isn’t concerned should rethink their position.

    • Dave Morris says:

      Al, thanks for that mention of my article.

      Agreeing with your point, Hossa really IS the guy who has to be the difference maker now that he is back.

      As I pointed out in my piece, with the core the Hawks have, there’s no reason why they can’t contend.

      But other teams around them have gotten better, while the Blackhawks have not, due to the inevitable changes in Chicago.

      So if a guy like Bickell or Skille (for example) has a game where they are delivering less than 100% effort and efficiency, and the other team’s middle level outplays them, it’s a recipe for a loss.

      Kopecky is the same player he was last year…a utility forward which some upside. He can sit, but who replaces him when he’s basically a fill-in for Pisani and Toews who are injured, and Morin is at the WJC?

      Like you said earlier, Al, these guys can only do what they are capable of, and when they don’t stick to the game plan, they’ll get beaten almost every time.

      That’s how close the competition is now.

  15. Eric says:

    Is Hossa even really healthy? He just doesn’t look 100% and a lot like Kane said after his first game back, the timing seems off.

    I think this team needs to go back to playing a simpler game, but without Toews the faceoff issue becomes so glaring.

    It would be nice if Stan Bowman got a trade or two done between now and the deadline, but I’m not holding my breath given their cap difficulties.