Right now I feel like I’m forced into watching a soap opera.
Doctor: “Nurse, I’m calling their death at 10:59 p.m. May 23rd.
Nurse: “But Dr. Bandwagon! They still have fight in them! Don’t give up yet!”
Doctor: “I’m sorry but I don’t see how they’ll pull through… Plus Dr. Fairweather and I have some baseball to watch.”
Nurse: “Then GO! I’ll stay here and put them on life support. I’ll get them through this!”
Half of the media has lost faith, and the other half clings to hope. Game four definitely failed to live up to expectations, but it also didn’t make me believe that all hope is lost. Undoubtedly the Hawks have an uphill battle from this point on, and this hill is tougher than the Aggro Crag. We saw some good things, and some bad, so let’s break it down.
1) One positive that came from the game was that we saw we can trust the Hawks to not completely lose their cool. Toews was the only one that you could shake your head at in wonder. To be fair, we knew Toews was going to snap eventually; he’s getting interfered with 90% of time he’s on the ice. So ignoring Toews and a Bickell penalty that was canceled out by Abdelkader, you have a pretty level headed game from the Hawks. More importantly, we saw none in the third. While it didn’t help us win, it did show that we learned not to play into their game within the game.
2) This isn’t going to be a surprise to anyone, but Q is getting outcoached. His record when in the playoffs against Babcock is atrocious, and while composed, he seems like he’s losing control. I don’t like how he handled Kane in the third, and I don’t like how he couldn’t keep the Hawks focused at the end. The one thing that the Hawks always did all year was stay calm and keep the pressure on the opposing team when they were down in the third. What we ended up with was panic and overall sloppy play when we needed to tighten up. Q needs to reel his team in and keep them focused.
3) I really enjoy watching Leddy skate the puck in when he gets fed up with everyone else losing the puck at the blue line. He is really starting to skate with confidence and I don’t mind him blowing by the team to get it deep, especially on the power play. While he is a -5 in plus/minus, I don’t believe that reflects on his actual play. If Stalberg could gain some more confidence, we would have two guys that can just skate right by everyone forcing Detroit to play a bit deeper in their zone. Too bad no one seems to take advantage of those two assets.
4) Handzus hasn’t played bad, he’s just extremely slow. He has had a few prime opportunities that just haven’t gone his way. With that said, I think it’s time to dress someone younger and faster. Pirri would be a prime choice if you wanted to fill the center role. If you wanted Kruger to maintain the 4th line center role, then bring up Morin or Smith. I’m sure Ben Smith would love nothing more than to have the chance to light up Brendan Smith for a little payback. Don’t let that mislead you, I don’t want him to take a run at him, I want him to blow by Brendan Smith and make him feel it on the scoreboard. (EDIT: Ben Smith is showing up on the active roster on the Hawks site.)
5) Anyone else feeling like Bolland might not be back next year? He took a dumb penalty in his first game back, and had a few scoring opportunities that he just couldn’t finish. Other than that, what has he done? Bolland just isn’t bringing that playoff jump, and he’s not lifting his line mates up like he has done in previous playoffs. It’s unfortunate, because I really like him as a shut down defensive center. With the cap crunch hitting everyone hard next year, I was kind of hoping Bolland would be a huge factor in this series.
Game five is on tonight, and a lot rests upon the Hawks’ shoulders. I expect to see a whole new level of desperation from the Hawks, but they need to stay focused on their game. Crisp passes, speed, and most importantly staying out of the box. Let’s go Hawks.