Grinds-my-gears1

Grinds My Gears

Yes, it’s only been one game. But it’s started already . And if the Hawks make a long run out of this spring (and summer, hopefully), then this is going to get ceaselessly tiresome. It already has in some respects. And that’s the “flat” storyline.

It’s been everywhere this morning, just look

 

 

 

All of these at one point or another attribute the Hawks’ uneven first period to the nebulous term of “flatness”, either explicitly or implied. Not to mention the wailing and gnashing of teeth on Twitter during the actual event. And because the term is so vague, it reeks of a lack of a clear point of view. “Well, they didn’t come out and win the Cup in the first period of the first game of the playoffs, so I guess they’re flat. Why? Who knows.”

This is not to say the first period should be documented in the Art Institute any time soon. Crawford should have had the Clutterbuck goal no doubt, but rather than just say the Hawks were “flat” or “lacked jump”, perhaps a keener eye would have noticed the Wild stacking three men on their own blue line to prevent easy entry to the zone, or hoisting their clearing attempts up and over the Hawk defensemen to keep themselves from being hemmed in. It’s not a coincidence that both goals were scored off of rushes, one at even strength, and one on a power play. As soon as the Hawks were able to get isolation matchups against individual Wild defenders, they were made to pay, plain and simple.

No, what was on display was not a flat team, it was a patient and mature team allowing an overmatched opponent show their hand first with how they were going to play. This patience was reflected in Joel Quenneville’s distribution of ice time in a 75 minute game, as well as his complete avoidance of matching up against Mike Yeo and the Wild. Because he didn’t have to.

The Wild came in and played the type of game they wanted to play, and got an inspired effort from a spot-starting goaltender, and still got blown out of the building in every respect but the scoreboard. The Corsi numbers for the game are nearly a complete whitewashing up and down both lineups. It was obvious from the start that the Wild wanted to limit any opportunities against, especially with a backup put into a disadvantaged position, and still allowed the Hawks to attempt 68 shots at even strength to their own 33.

A lack of crispness and not ending a game in the first five minutes does not a “flat” team make, and it’s high time to start asking for a little bit more thought from the hockey consumer than was done in years past, both media and fans. There are actual concrete reasons why a team looks out of sorts in any game, it’s not always lack of effort. In fact, it’s almost NEVER lack of effort. It’s intellectually disingenuous to constantly report on the will to compete of each and every COMBATANT in the playoffs and still trot out the “flat” reasoning for a lack of execution. These two things are mutually exclusive. The game has evolved and so has the way it is analyzed, and more should be demanded of its coverage.

  • 2883

    To summarize we grind mcclure’s gears by not demanding more in depth coverage? Woo hoo. We are stars now.

    • http://www.thecommittedindian.com/ PowrFwd37

      Are we all made of stars?

      • MySpoonIsTooBig

        Well, we are all made of star stuff. Carl Sagan taught me that.

        • mightymikeD

          Sagan also just texted me to say that Moby sucks and should “quit jackin a brother or he’s gonna slap some shush into that bald head”

  • MattC86

    Holy shit, a reasonable analysis of the game. I do think the Hawks tried to force a bit more than you say in the first few minutes of the game, but it was hardly the dick-stepping performance some people are chalking it up as.

    Harding played out of his gourd, Crow gave up a shit goal, and the Hawks still won. Yes, if that’s the equation for each game, the Hawks won’t sweep anybody. But I am willing to bet good money that’s not how they all go.

  • mightymikeD

    Well said… and syncs nicely with what I saw lat night.. which was a Wild team giving their best shot against the Hawks and the Hawks rolling with the punches and continuing on at their own pace. Which brought a Win. Minnesota has nowhere to go from here other than Down.

    • mightymikeD

      oh,and, Sweep.

      • http://www.thecommittedindian.com/ PowrFwd37

        I agree with your agreement – 100%.

        The Wild blew their load.

        That was it.

        Aside from maybe trotting Pominville and/or Backstrom back into their lineup, the Wild played the best game that they are capable of playing.

        The Hawks most certainly did not.

        This series only gets uglier, if you are a fan of the Wild. As a Hawks fan though, I believe that we are in for some tremendous fun in the next three games.

        • Accipiter

          I don’t think the Hawks played their best game, but I also don’t think that was the Wild’ best effort either.

          • MySpoonIsTooBig

            Disagree, aside from a potential boost if/when they get Pominville back I don’t think the Wild have anything more in the tank than what they put forth last night. Great effort by them, but wasn’t enough.

          • Accipiter

            I expect more from Parise, other than that OT chance he was invisible. Pominville could help them as you say, but I didn’t see very much ‘playoff intensity’ hockey from them. I don’t think they have enough to beat the Hawks, but I think there has to be more.

          • mad-hatter

            I guess I’m the minority that thinks Parise played well last night. He had a couple good scoring chances, and considering his line was out against Toews’ for most of the night, I thought he was great defensively. Plus both of the Hawks’ goals came when he was off the ice, which I don’t think is coincidence.

        • ballyb11

          You guys “Minnesota has nowhere to go from here other than Down” and “The Wild blew their load” are on drugs. A bad bounce or a missed spectacular save by Crawford and it’s 0 – 1 and half of the people posting on this blog would be on the ledge.

          • ballyb11

            “would be on the ledge” ……..
            in their adult diapers.

  • http://twitter.com/Bobby_Otter Bobby Otter

    Preach!

    Way too much “’85 Bears” disease creeping into far too many Hawk fans and media types. Add in the meatheads and well… you’d thought the Hawks got outplayed last night. It’s almost as if everyone missed all those one goal Hawk wins this year…

    • 1benmenno

      Yes. The one goal games. Now that the Hawks will be playing for national audiences, who are only aware of their incredible win-loss record, a lot of people will be expecting blow-outs and when they are few and far between will tweet that the Hawks are not as good as their record suggests.
      Fuck them, these imaginary people I haven’t met, and their puny uncomprehending brains.

  • MySpoonIsTooBig

    Regardless of how you want to characterize it, the ‘Hawks did not play their best hockey in the 1st period. Passes were at teammates’ feet or out of reach, positional play was atrocious, and intelligent decisions were few and far between. I agree that saying a team was “flat” is a pretty vague and meaningless statement, and I agree that effort was never the issue, but there was certainly something off about the ‘Hawks in the 1st period and it was more than just sitting back and letting the Wild show their hand.

    • The Doctor

      Spoon, how are you so smart and observant?

      • MySpoonIsTooBig

        Lots of practice. And lots of whisky. Mostly the whisky. And drugs.

        • Joe Banks

          I prefer Whiskey. Lots of Whiskey.

          • 1benmenno

            how about scotchy scotchy scotch?

      • MySpoonIsTooBig

        Also, very nice work with the playoff beard Doctor

    • http://www.thecommittedindian.com/ Matt McClure

      I suppose I didn’t word it clearly enough, which is on me. I wasn’t trying to imply that the Hawks were playing a passive game, they weren’t. Minnesota was executing better at the outset which caused a lot of those errant passes.

      The “sitting back and letting them show their hand” aspect was more of a wider-scale strategic move in not panicking and jumbling lines, or starting to chase matchups and unnecessarily wear anyone down. Once the Wild showed exactly how they were going to execute their bomb shelter strategy, the Hawks adapted and the results are here for us to enjoy.

      • MySpoonIsTooBig

        I agree with you there. I definitely liked the fact that the ‘Hawks didn’t make any panic moves or do anything silly after going down 1-0. I just think there was something off about the ‘Hawks game early, and I think that attributing it entirely to the Wild executing better is giving the Wild more credit than they deserve. Yes the Wild forced some errors, but there were also more than a handful of unforced errors.

        • http://www.thecommittedindian.com/ Matt McClure

          Having a shitball ice surface on an 85 degree day for a team that likes to run and gun certainly didn’t help matters.

          • MySpoonIsTooBig

            shhhhhh we’re not supposed to talk about that

          • http://whatisthebestadverb.wordpress.com/ I am not Chico Maki

            This is something that continues to startle me. Has there ever been any attention in the media to the Hawks’ consistently shitty ice … especially because it would end up playing significantly to the team’s advantage?

            These are the kinds of things Chicago fans from far away don’t get to hear about. I’d love it if anyone had any info/details on this aspect of the UC.

    • jackattack

      I was gonna try to bring up the exact same points you just did, but you did it far more coherently than I would’ve been able to. Well said.

  • wardrums

    Very well said Matt. A guy in our office that went to the game last night came up to me and said, “The hawks were lucky to win that game.” He was serious. I asked him to step out in the parking lot.

    I pointed out the Wild’s game plan which was basically always have four guys back. Can you recall a time when a Wild defenseman pinched?

    and I know I’m going to catch a lot of flak for this, but is a wrist shot from just inside the top of the circle a sure save for a goalie. I realize NHL goalies stop about 97.5% of those shots, but some of them have eyes.

    Sorry folks, there are not many 4-1 or 5-1 games in the playoffs. Stock up on the beer to calm your frazzled nerves.

    Shouldn’t Konopka have gotten a penalty for attempting to molest Toews when they crashed into Harding
    By the way – check out Cheertheanthem today. great Boxing with Bartl.

    • MySpoonIsTooBig

      Some of those shots have eyes sure, but that shot from Clusterfuck is one Crawford needs to have 10 times out of 10. I’m not sure he saw it all of the way as he might have been partially screened by Roszival, but he shouldn’t have needed to see it all the way. It looked like he was just slightly off of his angle, had he been positioned correctly it would have hit him square in the chest.

      • DesertHawk

        See the thing with the has to have it mentality for me is… he’s got a really good save percentage… despite letting in the occasional one he “has to have”, which means that more often than not he’s getting the ones he shouldn’t have, or that have eyes… assuming a goalie is human and can’t be perfect, some are gonna get through. I’m ok with it being the occasional softie as long as he recovers by making those killer saves in crucial moments.

        • 1benmenno

          Never assume a goalie is human.

        • AF_Cheddarhead

          The voice of reason. I don’t care if it is a “soft” goal or not. If the goalie only gives up 1.94 goals a game he is doing a damn good job.

  • putmeinthemadhouse

    AMEN

  • http://twitter.com/neo873 Neo

    http://espn.go.com/nhl/statistics/player/_/stat/goaltending/sort/savePct

    Josh Hardings .946 save percentage was 5th best of the night. For all the pissin and moanin about Crawford, he was second in save percentage with a .963. Seriously, would people be happier with Crawford if he saved that particular one but gave up two harder attempts?

    • Accipiter

      I would prefer if he saved them all. I agree he more than made up for the weak goal, so it’s really a wash.

    • mad-hatter

      No one will be happy with Crow unless he bests Quick’s effort from last year.

      • Joe Banks

        And David Haugh won’t be happy until he tops Niemi’s effort from 2010.

    • DesertHawk

      I tried to say this below, I think you did a better job.

  • Sparky_The_Barbarian

    While I have been as guilty as any for using the term ‘flat’ I have also said repeatedly that the Wild did an excellent job of making the Hawks play the game the wild wanted to play. No coincidence for me that both goals were scored in transition rather than from set offense. And the waved off goal came from a mad scramble in the blue paint. That’s what it’s going to take.

    I get where you are coming from. We all have issues with the bandwagon fan or journalist that suddenly thinks he’s an expert on hockey, using buzz words as if they are the be all and end all of analysis. However, I will probably continue to use these words in Twitverse and the boards as they are easier to post, and my typing has been a bit flat lately.

    All fun aside, good points on Coach Q and the ice time. We love to put our skates on and jump up and down on Q when he’s off in his own little Qverse making his Q plans, but we don’t give him enough credit for things like this, little things that will help win.

    • 1benmenno

      Don’t the Hawks usually score in transition or on a rush? Ok, sometimes off of a cycle. But we certainly are better at creating chances on the fly than in executing set-plays. That’s why our powerplay is less than optimal.

      • Z-man19

        nice analysis

        • 1benmenno

          Nice ass.

          • Accipiter

            How do you know Zed has a donkey ?

          • 1benmenno

            I read his diary.

          • Z-man19

            Quite the novel isn’t it?

          • 1benmenno

            Well, the parts describing your sex life have got to be fictional.

          • Sparky_The_Barbarian

            No, the Donkey corroborated the stories

          • 1benmenno

            Let this be a lesson to the Man of Zee: never hand out compliments.

          • 1benmenno

            Because you’ll just get your ass handed to you, is why.

          • Z-man19

            says the guy wearing the visor

          • 1benmenno

            It’s so that I don’t instigate.

          • Z-man19

            It’s not working

          • Z-man19

            He’s just jealous

          • 1benmenno

            Waylon

          • Z-man19

            no more compliments to Ben, handed or otherwise

          • 1benmenno

            Backhanded?

          • Z-man19

            I’m better with my forehand

      • Sparky_The_Barbarian

        And why our PP goals of late have come off the entry.

        • 1benmenno

          Yup. Happened yesterday, IIRC.

  • amontesawesome

    Thank you, very well said.

    Tt’s mystifying to me how exactly the Hawks “dodged a big bullet” by winning a game in which they were clearly the better team.

  • Accipiter

    I wonder what the Hawks did to CS. Bobby Lu is getting the start in Canucks land.

    • lizmcneill

      Is it still a body injury? I don’t remember him getting run at all in that game, was it in the third? (Think I might have been hiding my head in my pillow at that point)

  • 1benmenno

    Hear, hear. Hockey consumers like me no longer read the beat reporters because we’re tired of the cliches. But without sites like CI, we wouldn’t know there was an alternative.

    • mad-hatter

      Best decision of my hockey life was to google “blackhawks blog.”

      • 1benmenno

        Second best for me. The first was the night I asked my wife to divorce me.

        • Paul the Fossil

          Umm….cringing.

          • 1benmenno

            And the best part: she said yes.

          • 1benmenno

            Oh, did I say divorce me? I meant marry me.

      • Bullitt315

        Agreed, it sent me to hockeenight. Zing!

  • DesertHawk

    I found my Crawford jersey!!!!

    • http://whatisthebestadverb.wordpress.com/ I am not Chico Maki

      Me too. Except mine says “Mikita” and has the number 21.

      • Accipiter

        My Crawford jersey says ‘Roenick’ and has the number 27.

      • DesertHawk

        It’s the Winter Classic inspired third and it’s the full authentic one. The wife got it for me as a birthday present like 2 years ago. And I haven’t been able to find it since Christmas… losing a $500 jersey, that was a gift from the significant other, while they’re out of the country, is just massive bad juju. She gets home on Friday too, so I found it just in time.

  • Z-man19

    Agreed. Sometimes people forget that there is another NHL team on the ice and not an AHL squad.

  • http://whatisthebestadverb.wordpress.com/ I am not Chico Maki

    Of course it’s not always lack of effort. Sometimes it’s because of their sense of entitlement.

    • mad-hatter

      Well those tickets are expensive, and the effort the Hawks demonstrated in the first was embarrassing!

      • justforkicks

        Those lazy millionaires OWE ME and instead they were still on vacation from taking the last game off

  • Gabble Ratchet

    Well put. I have friends who are casual fans/bandwagon jumpers (the more the merrier, I say) who fully expect the Hawks will win sixteen straight games. Hard to explain to them that it doesn’t really work that way.

    I noted last night that Konroyd in one sentence described the Hawks as “jittery” and “overconfident.”

    • 1benmenno

      Nervous overweening arrogance is the worst.

  • mad-hatter

    Q hopes to get Emery and Bolly on the ice tomorrow, but both are unlikely for Friday. I’m betting Karlsson travels to Minnehaha.

    • Accipiter

      Does Karlsson know the Hawks are playing in Chicago on Friday ? or is he confused because the Wild went back home between games ?

      • 1benmenno

        Or is he confused because he thinks he’s playing defense for Ottawa?

      • mad-hatter

        I sent him a fax.

  • PePeLemieux

    We’re up 1-0. I’m glad. The thing I hate watching games against Minne (and previously Nashville) from a fan’s perspective is the lack of excitement. Outside of the obvious goals, this game was just BORING to watch. But that’s how things are with ‘trap-style’ hockey. Unfortunately, guys like Mike Yeo and Barry Trotz still think you can win a Cup employing this style, so we’ll probably still see teams like this come playoffs for some time. UGH!!
    Can’t complain about the effort from all forwards, D-men or Crawford (again, we won). However, when playing a team like Minne, why does Duncan Keith insist on attempting a 100-foot cross-ice breakout pass to Kane, only to have it inevitably intercepted at the blue line. This was not something that was only present in the 1st period, as he was still attempting these passes well into overtime. Kind of frustratinf to watch…
    It also seemed like Seabrook had spent the better part of Tuesday afternoon drinking from Lil’ Wayne’s cup. Am I the only own who thought he was particularly slow last night?

    • VanDorp’sMullet

      I totally agree about Minny and Nashville being total snore-fest teams to watch. However, I’m not sure it’s because Trotz and Yeo think they will win a Stanley Cup employing that style, but more that they know that they don’t have the offensive skill to compete so they HAVE to play a totally defensive/trap style and rely on occasional counter attacks and special teams for any offense they generate. In other words, I’m not sure they are under the delusion that they will win, but more are realistic in what they have and catering their system of play to their talent. It’s smart, but damn if it doesn’t blow to watch.

      • Z-man19

        That^, if they don’t have the talent to play an uptempo style they will lose and not fill the seats.

  • justforkicks

    Pierre brought me to a whole new level of annoyance last night holy shit. That fucker grinds my damn gears.

    • VanDorp’sMullet

      I streamed on gamecenter so didn’t have to put up with Penishead Pierre. That dude does more to ruin the sport than any thuggery ever could. What a sycophantic turd.

    • jackattack

      Confession Bear: I actually like Pierre McGuire.

  • Andrew Heitman

    Calling them ‘flat’ is what folks who dont know hockey very well call their start. This is a playoff team they are playing, one that is overmatched. They are going to have to play stifling and boring defense and run their top guys 30 minutes a game to stay in it.

    Someone who knows hockey would be able to watch that game and see how the Hawks dominated with some minor hiccups. Once they adjusted after the first period, after identifying what was going on, there was no question who the better team was.

    I saw a desperate MN team playing a style of hockey that can best be described as ‘survival’.

  • steeg of their own

    Sorry, McClure, I strongly disagree with you here. Is it oversimplifying to call the Hawks game ‘flat’ in the first last night? Maybe. But describing things more exactly (would “routinely unable to complete passes that normally would go unremarked while repeatedly careless on defense and repeatedly sluggish on offense, also with a marked unwillingness to forecheck deeply and with a distasteful tendency to give up on board battles that might otherwise have been winnable against a team that was playing a deeply defensive game to begin with” be more to your liking? It’s a mouthful, but to each his own) isn’t what the context of most of the ‘flat’ comments needed. We know what we saw. Is ‘flat’ a catch-all, imprecise term? Yes. Do we need a different one for a period of play that was at best imprecise in most if not all aspects of the game? Not necessarily. You’re quibbling semantics here, not making an actual hockey point.

    If you honestly think that what you saw of the Hawks in the first period last night was “a patient and mature team allowing an overmatched opponent show their hand first with how they were going to play”, then you and I are talking hockey on two completely different planes of reference. Because there was nothing patient (in fact, a lot of the Hawks’ problems stemmed from an apparent case of nerves that had them rushing every pass or shot they made) or mature about the first period I watched. I saw a team that was jittery and overthinking themselves, playing outside of their usual game plan and underperforming. I understand if you’re frustrated that the Hawks were accused of being flat the whole game when they were markedly better in the second half than in the first, but it’s a bit misguided to sweep the first half of the game in which they were “routinely unable to complete passes that normally would go unremarked
    while repeatedly careless on defense and repeatedly sluggish on offense,
    also with a marked unwillingness to forecheck deeply and with a
    distasteful tendency to give up on board battles that might otherwise
    have been winnable against a team that was playing a deeply defensive game to begin with” aka “FLAT” under the rug for what seems more like a semantic argument than an analysis of the actual game that was played.

    • http://www.thecommittedindian.com/ Matt McClure

      This was addressed in the comments below.

      I stand by what I’ve written.

      • steeg of their own

        Fair enough. We’ll agree to disagree.

  • JRF

    I thought it was funny when Milbury was blaming the first period on Q resting a bunch of dudes for the last game, completely ignoring the fact that they all played the night before.

    None of this is a big deal. The first period was pretty even, with a soft goal on the first shot by the Wild. From there it was all Blackhawks. Harding had a good night, it happens. Anyone who bothered to actually watch the game knows that Minny doesn’t stand a chance if the rest of the games are like the first.

    • jackattack

      Milbury truly is the Matt Millen of hockey.

      • Paul the Fossil

        That’s not nice, Matt Millen is occasionally coherent.

    • ballyb11

      “Minny doesn’t stand a chance if the rest of the games are like the first”

      BITE.YOUR.TONGUE.

    • Toews still makes funny faces!

      Mike Milbury is a Fucking Idiot!

  • steeg of their own

    If you’re still around McClure, on a totally different subject, will there be a playoff-watching post for tonight? I wasn’t sure how playoff-watching for nights when the Hawks were off would be handled.

    • justforkicks

      yes

  • ballyb11

    I wasn’t worried last night………….

    and that worries me greatly.

    • 1benmenno

      When you said you weren’t worried initially . . .
      I was worried greatly. You’re our great worrier.

      • Z-man19

        And now you’re no longer worryd?

        • 1benmenno

          nope

          • Z-man19

            Fine, I’ll be the adult here, I’m worryd

  • ballyb11

    BTW, fuck the Cubs,…..but I love Wrigley Field.

  • jackattack

    Spoon said it better than anyone, so I’ll move on from the obvious point at hand, and touch on something else I haven’t seen brought up;

    Was that hit the Shaw laid on Mitchell that led to the game-ending rush a missed call? When it happened I was worried they were going to call boarding, since he left his feet a little bit and sorta-kinda hit Mitchell in the numbers. Upon a couple replays I’m convinced it was clean, but I was worried in the moment.

  • ballyb11

    “still got blown out of the building in every respect but the scoreboard.”

    Nothing else matters in a seven game series.

  • DesertHawk

    My personal favorite pundit observation, still has to be Jones during the intermission, stating that us outhitting the Wild was “Real Blackhawk Hockey”.

  • laaarmer

    First game of the playoffs. It was a win. 3 more top go to move on. So, lets move on.