Mar 19, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; The net falls on Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford (50) during the third period against the St. Louis Blues at the United Center. The Blackhawks beat the Blues 4-0. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

Flipping The Switch- The Blackhawks Post-Olympic Theme

There are a lot of sayings in Sports and people throw them around a lot.  The Heart of a Champion, Cinderalla Story, A Pro’s Pro etc etc, well since the Blackhawks have returned from Sochi with 6 Olympic medals they have fallen into another dreaded sports saying—> Flipping The Switch.

The Hawks have been in this pattern of lose a game they should win and then dominate an opponent, lose a game they probably should lose on the road (Bruins game last night) dominate the next night on back to back games.  People suggest they are bored or tired or just waiting for the playoffs to begin so they can throw the switch and leave it on for 16 victories.

The problem with the switch theory to me is two-fold.  The biggest reason for the Blackhawks consistency to be frustratingly inconsistent has been health. The Hawks have had about 5 period with their 3 biggest stars on the ice at one time since the Olympic break.  Everyone was on the ice full of jet lag when they took to the ice at Madison Square Garden right after the Olympics, but Marian Hossa only lasted one period during the Stadium Series matchup against the Pittsburgh Penguins.  The Hawks were not very consistent during the Hossa less stretch and were excited to get him back only to lose Patrick Kane in the first period of the Blues game when Hossa had returned. It’s very tough to flip the switch on a nightly basis when the roster isn’t 100% especially it’s star power!

The second reason the Blackhawks have been struggling with keeping the light turned on for you (we don’t receive any endorsements from Motel 6) has to be blamed on Joel Quenneville. Yes, I know he has 2 Stanley Cups and I don’t, but his line blender has been on high speed all season and turbo speed since theOlympic break.  Let me remind you last season the Hawks rolled four lines on a nightly basis in the shortened season and Quenneville didn’t mess with anything until the playoffs.  This season it’s a reporters dream with everything which way but up except for the fourth line most of the season.  The chemistry that was there last year is missing not because of a switch but due to a nightly line changes instead of settling in on what the lines are which of course is partly due back to point one the injuries.

Nine games is all that is left of this 82 game marathon and whether you like it or not the Blackhawks will not be charging into the postseason like last year, but you will hear plenty of skeptics say, will the Hawks be able to flip the switch.  The switch isn’t broken it just hasn’t been at full strength most of the year and a healthy Blackhawks team in April/May/June should find the light on more nights than they have during the regular season.

What do you think? What do you feel has kept the switch off more nights than most would have thought?

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Tags: Chicago Blackhawks Chicago Blackhawks News Chicago Blackhawks Updates Flipping The Switch

  • Zbigkid

    they are tired and bored. also bickell has not played anywhere near his play last year, and so he’s one of the few players who is physical. injuries are not that bad. sure kane is out now, but they should be able to counter that. lastly, every team is bringing it hard to the hawks, as the hawks are the champions, so they are all trying to measure themselves. so nearly every game, the other team is UP emotionally. essentially, this happens to every stanley cup team, so it makes it even harder to win 2 years in a row. for the hawks, every game is a playoff like game the entire season in terms of the other teams bringin it to them hard.

    • Blackhawk Up

      Last night was a great example! The Senstors best game in 2 weeks by far

  • Keith Kostecka

    Out in first round will the Hawks be. They will be lucky to win 2 games against the Avalanche.

    • Blackhawk Up

      They can beat the Avs just not the way they are playing right now

  • Georgiaboy61

    Winning a Stanley Cup has been called the most-difficult feat in team sports, and winning two consecutively is even tougher. In the salary cap era, no team has repeated back-to-back.

    The 2010 ‘Cup-winning team was immediately dismantled because of the cap, and many of the players lost went on to form the nucleus and/or core parts of other teams. Antii Niemi is playing Vezena Trophy-level goal in San Jose, Andrew Ladd is the captain of the Winnipeg Jets and plays beside ex-Hawks Dustin Byfuglien and Michael Frolik. Brian Campbell anchors the power-play for Florida and also plays with several ex-Hawks, and so on.

    Against the odds, the ‘Hawks management rebuilt a cup winner in only two years, culminating in last year’s title. Once again, because of the cap, the team still said good-bye to some important pieces last summer (Can you tell I hate the cap?).

    Some would scoff that the team misses David Bolland and Michael Frolik, but since losing them (especially early in the season), the Hawks penalty kill has been terrible. Last year’s championship squad could shift into shut-down defense when needed, and seldom surrendered leads or gave up soft goals on the PK. True, the power play wasn’t very good but they won the cup anyway on the strength of their five-on-five game. Andrew Shaw was supposed to have made Dave Bolland expendable, but – as good as Shaw has been – he hasn’t yet become the shut-down defender Bolland was, capable of playing the other team’s top pivot and closing him down. Shaw is becoming a great player, but ‘Bolly was great when the team traded him. Michael Frolik was an ace penalty killer and role player, making top-scorer money so he had to go to pay Bickell – a gamble which has not yet paid dividends. The team’s PK hasn’t been the same since Frolik left – although it has made progress since being at the bottom of the league early this season.
    The power play is improved from last year, but the penalty kill is lacking – and it is defense which wins championships.

    Antii Ranta is a nice young goalie, but he isn’t Ray Emery. Emery pushed Crawford to play his best by putting up starter’s numbers in the backup role. Now, Ray-Ray calls Philly home. Perhaps even more damaging, former Hawks goalie coach Stephane Waite now calls the Montreal Forum home. More missing pieces from last year’s ‘Cup winner.

    The Hawks lead the league in scoring, but high scoring, free-wheeling teams have a history of getting knocked out of the playoffs quickly unless they can shift their style of play to match the demanding physical, shutdown style of play seen come playoff time. The Hawks of last year could play any style you wanted – and win. Can this year’s squad? The jury is still out.

    The Hawks are consistently inconsistent this year. Some games, they look like the champions they are – as in recent victories over Anaheim, Pittsburg and St. Louis – but in other games, they have looked pedestrian at best. Boston dominated them last night in shutting them out, and Ottawa blew them out of the building tonight in embarrassing fashion. The guys obviously miss Kaner and some of the others out with injuries.

    Winning a ‘Cup takes luck, too – and last year’s championship squad was not only clicking on all cylinders, they got lucky in terms of injuries. They’ll need that again to have any hope of repeating as champs.
    Cut me and I bleed red, white and black – but my gut feeling is that the team just doesn’t have enough in the tank to win it all again this year. They look tired and many nights, lack that killer instinct needed to close teams down in tight games when the opportunity presents itself. Going into the playoffs, the Bruins, Blues, Kings, Sharks and other challengers look fit, ready and are peaking at the right time. Unless the ‘Hawks can tighten up their D and play with some consistency, they’re going home early come playoff time. Oh, and they’d better figure out how to win in OT, which they’ve been unable to do this year.

    Still, anything can happen – and the road to the championship still goes through Chicago (at least for now). There’s a lot of character and pride in that room, and the guys will leave it out on the ice for sure. That’s all any fan can ask….

    • Blackhawk Up

      Very solid points and the only 2010 player we get back is a non 100% Versteeg!