By Stan Cooper
I have enjoyed reading Blackhawk Up and am excited to join the site now as a contributor. I look forward to some give and take in the coming months. I’m not big on introductions so without further ado, pass the potatoes and let’s get started.
There were not a lot of positives to take from Tuesday’s game at the Wigwam. The offense was too cute, the defensive zone coverage too skimpy and for a minute, I thought I was watching the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show.
The crowd at the UC seemed out of it after the second goal the ‘Yotes scored and had the collective energy of a funeral procession. It’s hard to blame them. As I said, that was a poor performance in all three facets of the game and the Hawks seemed disinterested in the outcome. With a full line up (Lepisto, Scott and Ben Smith were healthy scratches), I’d like to see a lot more cohesion and consistency. That just didn’t happen.
I mentioned the Hawks being too cute on offense so let’s start there. The play that I’m sure sticks out in everyone’s mind was Hossa’s inexplicable drop pass to Carcillo when he had split the Phoenix defensemen and was knockin’ on the door. I like Hossa’s chance on a point blank shot a hell of a lot more than I like Carcillo from the high slot, or Carcillo on his back hand, or Carcillo with an empty 4′ x 6′ net to shoot at. Only half kidding.
Another example was Toew’s one timer that he had in the second period. I would have liked to have seen him drive to the net with a pitchfork instead of drift to the boards and handcuff himself at an awkward angle. We didn’t do nearly enough in front of the net tonight. I look back at the game and think our best scoring chance (when the game was still up for grabs) was created by Bolland and Stalberg due to the havoc they manufactured in front of Coyote’s goalie, Mike Smith. It was about the only time I heard the United Center crowd above a dull roar, save for the Anthem.
The Hawks generated 25 shots on net (which seems generous and only a handful were good shots) and is awfully pedestrian for a team that has these kinds of nuclear weapons. SHOOT THE PUCK! Also, we could have used Carcillo’s feisty Honey Badger impression in the second period as opposed to the third when the fat lady was warming up her vocal chords.
In addition to the poor attack, tonight was ANOTHER night that Corey Crawford will will want to forget. It would take a lot for me to pin a loss solely on a goalie but I thought he could have done so much more to bail out a careless defensive effort. The first goal was a pretty poor shot from a bad angle and is a case in point of the last sentence I wrote. I felt like he was too shallow on that second goal and that if he was out another foot, that puck hits him square in the shoulder instead of going bar down. He could have anticipated a lot more on the third goal, too as it was scored from a pretty bad angle.
I don’t want to zoom out too far, but there is a certain time of year where goaltending takes center stage and as it stands right now, Mr. Crawford has been more Steve Passmore (Or Marc Lamothe if you’d rather) than Ed Belfour. There is plenty of time before Playoffs but as I look at weak spots right now, it starts in the crease. I look for him to work on positioning. A lot.
I hope you saved some of the mud in your hand to throw at the defense because they were very sloppy in their own zone tonight. Aside from the way they let Ray Whitney prance around the front of the net like Heidi Klum, there were numerous times in the first period where my voice was sore from screaming, “CLEAR THE [defensive] ZONE!” Our wingers deserve some credit/blame for this too for more than a couple sheepish, half-hearted clearing attempts. The Hawks need to be way more physical in our own zone and we shouldn’t need John Scott in the lineup or anywhere near the ice to do it. We conceded way too much tonight.
I’m going to wash my mouth out with soap. Let’s circle up Friday.
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