I’m going to say what a lot of Hawks fans are afraid to say: this year’s team is not nearly as good as everyone thought it would be at the start of the season. And they have a long, long way to go if they want to win anything this year.
Maybe I’m wrong to go setting off alarms, but personally I’m sick of making excuses for this team. I did it all year last season and I’ve done it so far this year when they’ve had bad stretches. I’m sick of making them and I’m sick of hearing them and you should be too.
Yes it was one loss, but the problems with this year’s team run much deeper than how many losses they’ve had so far and threaten to put the Hawks’ playoff position in jeopardy.
This game started off great. The Hawks completely controlled play, had jump in their game, were moving the puck well and had a few good chances. And then as Eddie-O mentioned in the broadcast, the Hawks made some sloppy plays and handed momentum over to the Coyotes. And from there the game just began to slip away slowly.
The Langkow goal, although it was generated by a really bad change by the Hawks, Corey Crawford simply has to make that stop. The Doan goal was essentially a 4-on-2 that Hjalmarsson totally misplayed. The Vrbata goal resulted from the Hawks trying to pull off a fancy drop pass at their own blueline, a turnover behind their net and an oblivious Crawford. The Whitney goal came off of bad positioning by both Leddy and Hjalmarsson.
In otherwords, they were all very preventable goals.
Now you can only blame defense to a degree in this game because their forwards really didn’t give them anything to work with. They couldn’t generate anything, their forecheck was weak, their backchecking was lazy and the overall sense of urgency in their game was not there tonight. They were unable to seize back momentum at any point in the game and that hurt the team effort.
Last night’s game really illustrated the fact that when the Hawks’ big guns don’t score, the Hawks don’t score. Furthermore it was another display of the many defensive deficiencies that have been plaguing this team all season.
I’m not going to do what a lot of people are doing, which is chalk this one up to fatigue coming off a long roadtrip. Maybe that was the case but quite frankly that doesn’t explain the trends emerging with this tear’s team. Plus that would be making excuses and as I said, I’m done with doing that. I’m going to start calling it like it is.
Its really simple: the Hawks have a number of very serious problems. Its not one player or area, its multiple players and areas and they need to find some solutions because their position in the standings is becoming untenable. 4 points separates them from the 9th place Sharks, who have 4 games in hand. St. Louis is one point back with a game in hand and Detroit is 2 points back with 3 games in hand. The cushion the Hawks once had has virtually disappeared. Changes need to be made fast before the losses start to mount.
But before the Hawks can do anything they have to face 3 very real, very frightening realities:
1. They are one of the worst defensive teams in the NHL right now
2. They have almost no secondary scoring
3. Their goaltending has become a liability
What’s upsetting is that the Hawks have the personnel to be the best team in the NHL, but for whatever reason they’re not meshing.Its too far into the season to say “we have to give them time”. I doubt more time will improve the defense or generate secondary scoring. The Hawks need to seriously start considering the possibility that the team they have assembled, even though pretty good on paper, is not good enough to get the job done.
Its time for Bowman to do some reflecting on what this team needs and proceed to go out and get it. Stop waiting for things to get generated internally, its time for things to get shaken up. I’m not talking firesale, I’m talking a minor tweak or two, a slight shuffle of the bottom six and defense, maybe even a minor goaltending change.
The point is: something must be done. Bowman sitting on his hands and hoarding all that extra cap space will do nothing to help this team.
Am I overreacting? Possibly, but I’d rather overreact and exaggerate the seriousness of the situation than underreact and believe everything will figure itself out. This isn’t a slump the Hawks are in. These are very obvious trends that have emerged since the season began and have exposed weaknesses on this team. And that’s largely what the regular season is for: finding flaws in your team and fixing them to win a championship.
Well, there are definitely flaws and they definitely need fixing. Get it done.
Thanks for reading.
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