Poor Clock Management and Another 3rd Period Failure

I hate to beat a dead horse but it’s still a sore point. 

This season, only the Atlanta Thrashers (64) and the Ottawa Senators (63) have had more goals scored against them in the third period than the Blackhawks (61). The Hawks have played one less games than the Senators and three fewer than the Thrashers. 

In Vancouver the Hawks should have been content with picking up at least on point after going into the final frame deadlocked.  With playoff hopes flickering from game to game, coming away with at least one precious point should have been the prime consideration inside of five minutes of regulation time. 

If there is any team in the NHL which needs to understand clock management it’s the Blackhawks. But the Hawks are still trying to sort things out.  

Patrick Kane is asked to do too much at times, but at critical moments he doesn’t practice “safe hockey”. Kane and all other Blackhawks’ need to know when it’s time to not to take any chances. 

Friday night, Kane raced up the ice and crossed the Vancouver blueline with 4:11 left in regulation and the score tied at three. Positioned in front of Kane were four Canucks, planted like a picket fence. Instead of practicing Hockey 101 and putting the puck into a corner, Kane tried to make an improbable pass to Bryan Bickell. The pass failed and the puck was launched out of the zone. The Sedins’ did the rest and the result was at least one blown point and a heart breaking loss. 

The Canucks were fortunate as they scored a fluky winning goal. But especially on the road, with little time remaining, playoff implications in the balance, because the opponents’ best players were on the ice….. 

Kane and every other Blackhawk should know better. 

But this is still a group which tries to do too much at times and sometimes doesn’t do enough. Against the very best teams there is little margin for error. 

The defeat was a bitter one because the Hawks can’t play much better. Against many opponents the Hawks would have won, but to beat the very best everything has to be precise. 

Winning only 37% of the faceoffs versus the Canucks did not help the cause. Especially considering Dave Bolland was matched against the Sedins’, as he won only five of 22 faceoffs for a dismal 23%. Outside of faceoff trouble Bolland played a strong game. But the Twins’ don’t need anything made easier for them. 

Marty Turco was ok….Although no matter how well Turco performs he often allows a goal he should have saved. At this point, it doesn’t seem likely Turco can play much better than against the Canucks. No matter what your opinion of Turco’s performance, the play of Roberto Luongo was stronger. 

Often the difference between a third or fourth liner and a top six forward is the ability to score goals. Tomas Kopecky doesn’t have the “finish” of a goal scorer. He gets into prime scoring position but for a variety of reasons doesn’t convert. Kopecky could have scored two or three goals. A true goal score would have potted at least one against Luongo. 

The Hawks fourth line had a great first shift and another good one late in the game, but for the most part they were outplayed. That group had little offensive zone time. If the third pairing is playing at the same time as the fourth line… Watch out. 

The Canucks won the special team battle as they potted two power play goals. The Hawks 5 on 3 power play attempts have been awful the last few years. That was the case again. The Hawks get caught playing out on the perimeter when they have a two man advantage and that won’t work against Luongo. In general the Hawks shot the puck up on Bobby Lu….which made it easier of for him to control rebounds.

Give the Blackhawks credit, many clubs would have folded but they kept coming back. 

The officiating was brutal and the Blackhawks could have deserved better in Vancouver.  

The NHL is quick to point out they were the first major sport to embrace video replay. It has always seemed odd to me that every “no goal” call is not reviewable in Toronto. If the technology is there why not use it on the most important plays. If it extends the game time …..So what? The game is played in far less time than it was years ago. 

Whenever a goal is taken off the board or a play surrounding a scoring sequence is in question it should be reviewed. Troy Brouwer’s goalie interference should have been looked at in Toronto and so should the blown offside call on Christian Erhoff’s score. 

Concerning a goal……. What makes a questionable goal tender interference call or a wrongly whistled offside, any different from a high sticking review? Both involve a score change. If reviewing more plays increases the average time of every game by five minutes, it would be a good trade off. Maybe the end result would be more responsibility shown by officials on the ice. 

A blown call could mean millions in lost revenue. In my view it is silly to limit the reviews to include only the following. …

*In the National Hockey League, goals may only be reviewed in the following situations:

  • puck crossing the goal line completely
  • puck in the net prior to end of period
  • puck in the net prior to goal frame being dislodged
  • puck being directed into the net by hand or foot
  • puck in the net after deflecting directly off an official
  • puck deflected into the goal by the high stick by an attacking player

*source Wikipedia.

Now it’s on to Calgary where the Hawks need the best from Corey Crawford. The Flames are playing inspired hockey and will be a difficult challenge on home ice. Hopefully the tough loss in Vancouver will inspire the Hawks to have a top effort tonight. 

Maybe at last a lesson has been learned and poor clock management will no longer be an issue. 

Al’s Shots 

According to a Chris Kuc tweet….Yesterday, Brouwer was working with the No. 1 power play unit replacing Marian Hossa

Hossa isn’t doing much in the way of scoring goals. He isn’t creating scoring chances either. 

Maybe Hossa can do something he hasn’t done much of all season…..Force the opposition to take penalties. 

If the light bulb hasn’t gone off in Hossa and Kane’s head it should have by now. 

Teams are successfully defending these two by keeping them on the perimeter. 

Kane at times goes to the slot, because he has Jonathan Toews to feed him the puck. 

Hossa lugs the puck….He needs to play more north and south. Even if Hossa doesn’t score he could create a power play opportunity. 

There probably isn’t a stat for only the amount of offensive zone time compared to penalties drawn. If there was, Hossa would be near the bottom in that category. 

Having a very good power play doesn’t matter as much if power play opportunities aren’t being generated.

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  1. Dave Morris says:

    Al, another astute perspective from you.

    IMO there are two other key issues…

    One, the Hawks put themselves where they are now by not winning the games they needed to win at the beginning of the year. Those five or six games are what separate them from the Red Wings and Predators.

    Two, it really does appear Hossa, Kane and Toews are all playing through nagging injuries. If the team was deep enough–or if the Hawks had won the games they should have won early–these three *might* have time to *fully* recover. The effect on the Hawks can be compared to any team playing without its three top offensive players at less than 100%.

    The rest of the team, what you see is what you have.

    Making up ground the rest of the way is going to be very, very difficult.

    • Al Cimaglia says:

      Unfortunately…I think in the next few years we are going to be often mentioning Hossa and injuries.

      • Orchardcreek says:

        I’m glad the braintrust went for the more durable version of Marty Havlat when they signed Hossa who seems to be the less durable version of something less than Marty Havlat… When you put some of the player personnel decisions of the last few years under the mircroscope you really wonder if the Hawks will be back playing for the Holy Grail sooner than later… [sighs]

      • msgoalie says:

        I am soooo tired of the injury excuse for these guys, especially as it relates to Hossa and Kane. This has been a season long crutch (no pun intended)that we have had to listen to. When Kane has a goal and an assist on a given night, the word injury doesn’t even enter the conversation, but as soon as he goes scoreless or has a minus game, it’s back to the “oh, he must be fighting an injury” excuse again. Bottom line, Hossa, Kane, Keith, Seabrook and several other key players have just not brought a consistent effort this season. I’m not saying that guys don’t get injured and that it doesn’t play a factor – I’d be an idiot to say that – but I’m just not going to keep dredging up that excuse every single time these guys play poorly. My thought process now is how many of these guys had career years last year and are now playing closer to their real talent level or perhaps the league has just learned how to play them. A lot of these guys looked as if they thought they could just put it on cruise control for a few months and then turn it on when they wanted to and make the playoffs. Last year was a great year and one I’ll never forget, but as I mentioned in a post to Al a few months back, if this team fails to make the playoffs, it’s going to take a lot of lustre of last years accomplishment for me. I wasn’t expecting them to win the Cup again, but I never for a second entertained the thought that they wouldn’t make the playoffs.

      • Dave Morris says:

        Al, that is a distinct possibility…of course, we don’t know *what* the nature of the ailments might be…you’ll also remember you wrote in the beginning of the year that the Hawks don’t have enough depth this season to cope if injuries become an issue…which, unfortunately, appears to be the case.

      • shruew says:

        I remember on the Blackhawks forums there was a debate about the durability of Havlat vs Hossa. I laid out the (internet, valueless) bet that Havlat would play more games than Hossa for the duration of his Havlat’s contract.

        Al, your post made me remember that so I finally went to go see what the stats were. So far Havlat is up 125 to 93.

        • Al Cimaglia says:

          I am going to blog about the two soon But….You probably remember and my thinking is the same…

          Hossa is the better player but I would rather have signed Havlat for 5 yrs. than Hossa until 2021….The overiding factor for me was Hossa’s age.

          • djd says:

            C’mon guys. You can skew stats however you want. Hossa was damaged goods when the ‘hawks signed him. He missed almost half a season last year before he even got a shot on goal. Let’s look at Havlat’s five-feather career. How many games did he play in his first two years in a ‘hawks jersey? (91) Then he plays 81 in his contract year. The current stats for the pair show Hossa with 80pts in 93 games played (.86ppg) and a plus 31. Marty has 99pts in 123 games played (.80ppg) and is minus 19. Hossa is indeed, a better player. Havlat had that good chemistry with Bolland. That hasn’t been replaced.

          • shruew says:

            The point we were making was at the time the two signed their contracts, who was more likely to be more productive going forward. Given where they were age wise and body wise, it wasn’t a clear cut decision to say Hossa would be.

            Regardless, it’s just conversation fodder.

            If you were to put the choice of taking on a potentially burdensome contract in Hossa for the next 10+ years and get a Stanley Cup — maybe would still jump on that deal.

            In generally, I’ve always had reservations against these super long term deals. Even with the case of Keith.

          • Al Cimaglia says:

            If I’m spending the money…

            I would give a dman in his mid 20′s a really long term contract 10 times over before I would give one to a forward who is almost
            30 yrs old.

          • djd says:

            I get it guys, I remember the conversation, too. I, too, was in favor of keeping Havlat over Hossa. Management, and more to the point Marketing had other ideas I think.

            Hossa played a huge part in the cup run. Mission accomplished. No way Hoss is around for the duration of the contract anyway.

            Agreed too, on the long-term contracts, Al. But, it’s a crap shoot either way. Injuries don’t play favorites.

            Lastly, as a ‘hawk fan for 52 of my 58 years, I am totally embarrassed about the fact that I said five-feathers instead of four in my previous reply.
            Mea culpa.

          • Al Cimaglia says:

            djd….I thought that was a special slam…lol

  2. Orchardcreek says:

    Another great article, Al. This team is maddening. When you look at the standings and see where the Hawks sit after 52 games it certainly is not reassuring. I continue to think Q outcoaches himself at critical times and tries to be too cute too often. This, interestingly, is essentially the point of your afticle when discussing some of the players, like Kane, in particular. I don’t get the timeout, for example, for the 5-3. It’s not like this is basketball where they are diagramming an inbounds play. I would think if the 5 on the ice don’t know what to do on a 5-3 by now, 30 seconds isn’t going to get them any closer to knowing. And, when you consider all of the variables, like having to win the draw, etc., a timeout in that instance seems wasted and just gives the defenders a chance to regroup and re-engergize. That’s just one example, and maybe not the best, but Q seems prone to try to outcoach the other side instead of letting his charges do their thing. I would love to know your thoughts on Boynton and why he’s found a spot in the lineup again when the Leddy/Hendry duo seemed to play well together for their extended stretch. Thanks.

    • Al Cimaglia says:

      Q. favors veterans for the most part….There is obviously something he doesn’t like in Hendry’s game.
      Leddy is overmatched physically at times…Boynton might provide more security.

      The timeout was also done to keep the same players on the ice for another minute or more…

      They looked to make seam passes instead of attacking the net….Good teams defend the through the box passes very well.

      Also this season Q.’s line juggling has to do with him not wanting to keep all of the 4th liners out there at the same time.

      Q. and the caoching staff sees what I see as far as what Kane did in the last 4 mins….but he won’t publicly criticize….If he “loses” Kane at this point….Q. should start booking his golf dates now.

      But make no mistake….This team can’t overcome fundamental mistakes against better teams.

      Last year they could get away with a lot…
      they should know by now they can’t.

  3. Living the Cup says:

    Agree on your last point Al – this team got away with many of the same mistakes last year.

    And let’s not forget this team is still young – Kane is what 22? He should know better but the special offensive talent that he is plus his age, he hasn’t ever had to really worry about clock management until maybe now.

    Clearly tonight’s game is huge. The Hawks need to play 5 on 5 like they did in Van., have Crawford back to where he was and tighten up the special teams.

    If they don’t get those things tonight Calgary will beat them and then we can really start worrying.

    • Al Cimaglia says:

      LVC….I cut the young guys more slack than most.

      Kane’s old enough to cash out on a $5 million dollar a year salary….He has to be aware of game situations.

      He has played long enough to know the basics. If the Hawks were losing the game…or if it was in the second period…I wouldn’t have made it an issue but with 4 mins. to go…NO EXCUSES ALLOWED.

  4. rock says:

    That was a bad game. I cant think of anything intelligent to say about it other than bad. And maybe a few other choice words.

  5. Patrick says:

    This all seems familiar, kind of like the Hawks are following a script. I wonder what the Detroit fans were saying this time last year?

    • Al Cimaglia says:

      At this time last year the Wings had numerous injuries…I don’t see a comparison.

      • Patrick says:

        Hawks have already been through their ‘significant injury’ phase at this point, with every key forward missing time this year, or debatably still playing hurt. Now we’re just waiting for them to turn it around. Hope the Hawks continue to follow the script.