The Blackhawks had a record start to the season, and coach Q said that they still had a lot to work on. Then the Hawks closed out their series with the Wild in five games, and again, Q said that there was room for improvement. Wednesday night the Hawks asserted their dominance in the second and third period leading to a 4-1 win. Like Q, I can see some room for improvement still. The Hawks traded chances with the Wings and got out shot in a very even first period by a margin of 7-6. Then the Hawks kicked it into gear and outshot the Wings 36-14. Even with that uptick in performance, let’s take a look at three things the Hawks need to improve on.
3) Player Management: I doubt we will ever find out what has been going on with the Hawks organization and Stalberg, but it probably should stop. I know that for a while now Stalberg’s agent has been upset that his client isn’t getting more responsibility, but the playoffs are not the time to send a message. Stalberg will always be more of an asset to the team than Carcillo. Not knocking Carcillo for his performance last night, because he did get an assist on the Kruger goal. What it boils down to is that you are wasting a spot for Carcillo to play six minutes when Stalberg can be way more of a threat and be trusted with a lot more ice time. Not exactly something that can be fixed on the ice, but it still needs to be addressed within the Hawks.
2) The Power Play: The power play is currently 3 for 16, and that is 2% better than the regular season which was sitting at a sad 16%. While the PP has been looking better of late, we still haven’t found any consistent success like what Pittsburgh has been enjoying. Now I don’t expect the Hawks to be converting at a ridiculous rate of 36%, but ideally Q wants to see 20-25%. When you look at our lineup, they should have no problem getting into that range, and yet, we still struggle quite a bit. One positive improvement in our most recent PPs is that there haven’t been any real short-handed scares. So, at least the PP is heading in the right direction, but still is a concern going forward. One major issue the Hawks have had in the past is the over abundant need to pass and the inability to just shoot the puck. Our zone time is getting better and our shots per PP have also increased, but we still aren’t converting like we should.
1) Bad Penalties: This is by far my biggest concern, not just for this series but any possible future matchups. The five penalties in game one were all fairly stupid and pointless. It’s great knowing that your PK can be in top form five times a night, but that is unnecessary extra work and time without possession. If the Hawks end up facing Pittsburgh and their ridiculous PP unit, it could really put the Hawks in the hole. For a team as skilled and fast as the Hawks, they should be the ones drawing penalties and definitely not taking penalties 100 feet from their own zone. Shaw was playing incredibly selfishly, and while his energy is welcome, it’s useless in the box. More importantly, it’s not irreplaceable. With a number of Rockford guys just waiting to get their shot to make a name for themselves, Shaw needs to play more responsibly.
While these complaints may be nitpicking, I’m not letting our few negatives ruin such a great run. The second and third period of Wednesday night’s game was extremely fun to watch. When the Hawks are dominating possession like they did then, all you can do is sit back and enjoy the show.