Most Peculiar Momma: Wild 2 – Hawks 1

Box Score

Event Summary

War On Ice

Natural Stat Trick

I can’t remember when I’ve walked out of the UC more confused. Usually I’m feeling good, dejected, or indifferent. But I don’t know what to make of tonight.

I’m cheating again. Usually I’d quickly sum up the game, then go to the bullets of what you might not have seen. But just like I did the last time I wrote a wrap, this one feels like a prose. So follow me after the jump, and we’ll go through it together.

For tonight, the first 40 minutes looked like two teams who knew a point each would server them well. Occasionally pawing at each other to see if there was an opening but not taking any chances to leave themselves open to attack. It made for the opposite of a spectacle. Even the 3rd stayed that way, until Rozsival passed to a changing Duncan Keith, and Keith could not have given less of a fuck about dealing with that wayward puck, which led to a chance that Crow smothered but the ensuing faceoff…

Well, we can’t think that Toews will consistently lose coverage, can we?

Look, we can discuss the ins and outs of the whole thing all night, but the overall feeling was that the Hawks didn’t care tonight. Looking at just how lazy their line changes were would prove that. But why? There’s no way they didn’t know how the Preds and Blues were doing as well. There was a chance to move up in the standings. The Hawks basically turned that down. Why?

How do we know they turned it down? After Bickell got them back within a goal with two to go, for the last minute the defensive pair was Rozsival and Rundblad. There couldn’t be two players who you’d think Q would want to send out less in a game he wanted. Which leads you to believe he didn’t want this one. Who has ever heard of such a thing? Are the Hawks trying to slot themselves?

I get it on some level. If you’ve watched the Kings, maybe they feel like they can pace themselves. But that’s not learning the lesson. The Kings pace themselves and ramp up into gear (though not this year). Does anyone feel like the Hawks are in gear? The Hawks have basically played 3.5 good games in the past six weeks. At Winnipeg, home to the Kings, Canucks, and Blues, and they didn’t beat the Blues. Make of that what you will.

Then, if you listened to Q’s post game, it got even weirder. He talked about how the Hawks have been better on the road (only marginally) and then about how everyone is better on the road, which sounded like him justifying wanting the Hawks to play as many games on the road in the playoffs.

Have you ever heard of such a thing?

The thing is, it could work.. I panicked, and as I usually do I emailed Fifth Feather, and as always he made me feel better. The West is as open as it’s ever been. You can make a case for six teams to come out of it (and I’m assuming he counted the Kings in that and they won’t make it now AND WHAT THE FUCK?!!!!)

Q could completely argue that everyone’s rolling the dice and it’s all so even it’s coming down to a bounce here or there and that’s not necessarily wrong. But why would you turn down home ice? Considering that the Hawks need the matchups, it seem strange.

But considering the schedule, if the Hawks are trying to avoid the Blues they could slip into the wild card and get them anyway. But if that’s not what they are after… well I don’t know how to finish that sentence.

Just watching tonight, leading members of this team clearly did not care: Hossa, Keith, and Sharp. The rest other than Baun and Norstrom weren’t far behind. I don’t know how that prepares you for the playoffs.

But maybe Q knows this team better than we think. Maybe he knows they can snap into gear starting next week on the road. Maybe he knows they can slot themselves against Nashville. But if the Hawks lay down against STL, and the the Avs prove to be the annoyance they’ve always been, you’re stuck with at the Blues in Game 1 which it seemed like they were trying to avoid tonight. Can you turn it on then? I don’t know.

Considering what was on offer tonight with the results, it’s really hard to fathom that the Hawks simply shook their heads, and said, “Not for me.”

  • TitanTransistor

    If, IF, we are going with the theory that the Blackhawks are trying to slot themselves, it does kind of make sense on some level to try and match-up with one of two teams you KNOW you can beat (Blues, Nashville), then get a surprise matchup against Winnipeg (tough matchup this year), Minnesota (who the Hawks have managed to eek out wins by the skin of their teeth against, but probably would prefer not to press their luck against) or the LA Kings (yeah, no thank you).

    Devil you know, and all that.

  • Icehogst

    I’m hoping Q is pairing Bernie Rosival with ChickenHead Runblad for the 5/6 D-men who can hold the fort for 8-12 minutes per game, thereby enabling Seabs/Keith and Hammer/Oduya to carry 27 and 23 minutes respectively. Bernie and CH should be instructed to do nothing more than clear the puck…. Get it out of our zone or dump it into theirs. Don’t do anything stupid that will get us killed.

    I missed most of the Wild and Blues games, but what little I did see, the Hawks played differently here- overly cautious- than against the Jets and Kings – aggressive, initiating play. Hawk Hell is endless perimeter passing, which is disturbingly evident on the power play. Pretty is ugly. Set up a shot and crank the thing.

    Richards sitting for a week is good. Hossa could use a blow too. Darling gets the next game, then the pedal down with Crow

    But the eternal regular season is over and it’s showtime. Q is smart enough to know what worked . Kane-Richards-versteeg, toews-hossa-saad , shaw-vermette-Bickel, teuvo-Kruger-desjardins. Sharp can be our ace in the hole or take Versteeg’s spot should he continue to be Ver-stoop id. Hawks are much readier to play than last year. They are champs and the hunger is about to kick in! GO HAWKS.

    • ‘hawks58

      So, you suggest they suit up 11 over 20……riiiiiight

    • Harry Longwood

      I’d prefer for Quenneville to play Timonen and Rundblad as 5/6, and launch Roszival in the general direction of Alpha Centauri (or the nearest retirement home). If Kimmo isn’t healthy for the playoffs, I also wouldn’t be surprised to see a Rockford call-up (TVR if healthy, obvs).

      • Anon

        Sorry to bust your bubble, TVR is done for the season….had surgery on his wrist :/ Timmo Rosi and Runblad are the three names I think we’ll see.

  • Jim

    There is no easy route, but a first round matchup with the Preds is the least nasty. Let Minnesota deal with Rieves, Backman, and their dirty style of play for 7 games. No guarantee the Hawks beat Nashville in the first round, but if you are going to game it, that is the way to go. I think the Hawks veterans do have a “switch” and it was in evidence against LA and Vancouver, St. Louis. The Blues game was close, and sometimes you lose those, once it was lost, the strategy changed.

    • Jane Doe

      And Kaner could come back in the middle of the series? Just like Soupy did in 2010?

      Stanley Cup champions again, my frient!

  • Just the Facts

    How could the Hawks be trying to slot against a particular opponent? Neither Nashville nor St. Louis is locked into either 1st or 2nd place, so the Hawks can’t know at this point which opponent they will get by finishing in 3rd or 4th place.
    What I saw is a team still struggling to score whose margin for error defensively is razor thin. Plus with Richards and Timonen out (in addition to Kane), the team was thin last night.
    Unfortunately Rundblad make a couple of mistakes last night that will justify Q playing Rozy ahead of him even after Timonen returns (not that Q was going to require justification).

    • Bannerman

      Yeah, I don’t get the not wanting to face the Blues angle. The team they’re trying to avoid is the Wild. They probably prefer the Preds over the Blues but that road means getting at least 1 more point. I think we’ll see max effort to get that 1 point from the Blues so they can mail in the game against the Avs.

  • Brandon Murray

    I’m with you Fels, last night was well yawnstipating to say the least. I didn’t know what to make of it. It seemed like a preseason hockey game at times, just cycling thorugh the motions. Maybe the Hawks would prefer to play the Blues (the team they see as the biggest threat to them) in round 2 with a fully healthy 88, but as you said it is going to take at least 1 more point to assure the 3rd spot. I think we underestimate sometimes the rigors of an 82 game season for a team who has made deep playoff runs the last 2 seasons having played 42 playoff games.
    It is not an excuse, but it seems as though these guys know what to expect this time of year and just turn it on when round 1 begins. Honestly, I think they know what they are doing and it isn’t any sandbagging or trying to matchup because it is too hard to predict. Last night was a golden opportunity squandered with both teams in front of us losing. However, had we got within one point of STL and lost Thursday, we are right back to where we were so fuck it. Let’s get at least a point in STL and make sure we aren’t a wild card team.
    I will say this, every team sans Colorado is improved in this division. There is no guarantee that Anaheim can beat Winnipeg in a 7 game series and that is the beauty of a 7 game series. STL or MIN might be us 2-1 and then move on to the next game, but to face the same opponent 7 consecutive times makes it much more difficult to do. Based on what I have seen, I am terrified of MIN and I think they will beat STL (or any central team) in a 7 game series because they play like they have nothing to lose and can’t be intimidated. As far as we go, I’ve said a million times over, this Hawks team will either be playing in the Western Conference Finals or ousted in Round 1, there will be no in-between.

  • ‘hawks58

    “The Hawks have basically played 3.5 good games in the past six weeks. At
    Winnipeg, home to the Kings, Canucks, and Blues, and they didn’t beat
    the Blues.”

    The last 6 weeks also includes a week long stretch where the Hawks laid waste to the smoldering wreckage of the Sharks, dominated the Isles at home, and won in Madison Square Garden. All 3 a part of a 6-0-1 stretch to start March where they also hammered Carolina and lost to the Rangers in OT.

    So I’d say it’s more like they’ve played 8 good games the past 6 weeks, along with a handful of games where they clearly coasted but found a way to win (Edmonton, Arizona, Carolina, Buffalo).

    Since their abomination against Boston, the Hawks are 13-6-2 with their only truly bad games being the 4-0 loss to Tampa and the week long stretch after the win at MSG.

    They are probably a 50-50 shot to get through a first round match-up against StL or Nash, but if they can get come breaks and get through the first round and Kane comes back early, they would be the favorite in any series past that (except maybe a match-up against NY or Montreal)

    • 1985AH1985

      Also, The Hawks didn’t play good against the Rangers in the last 6 weeks?

    • SamFels

      True. It’s hard to remember the calendar exactly when you write these overserved.

      • ‘hawks58

        Understandable. I just see so much DOOM across the blogs after losses. We often forget the good play when a bad/indifferent game (or stretch of games) comes along and I just wanted to remind everyone that they have actually been playing okay (not really good or great, but not poorly on a consistent basis either).

        The ‘hawks as they’ve been playing the past 6-7 weeks will be a coin-flip in a first round series, but outside of the central, they are still one of the three best teams in the league. Now, if they can flip the switch like they seemingly have done against StL, NY, LA, ANA, etc….look out.

  • nose4hockey

    It’s fairly evident the teams making the most progress right now are the ones with young, energetic, excited, talent. I caught the end of the Ottawa game and I swear none of the names on their sweaters even rung a bell with me other than Turris. Unfortunately we have a Coach and GM who don’t see the forest thru the trees. How nice would it have been to see these lines next year. Toews-Hossa-K. Hayes……Terravainen-Kane-Saad……Pirri- Shaw-J. Hayes……Krueger- McNeil -Danneault Defense: Keith, Seabrook, Hjallmarsson, Johns, Van Riemsdyke, Dahlbeck, Clendenning ??? Unfortunately Q don’t want young players and Bowman don’t have the nuts to overule him, so we end up losing them. Kevin Hayes knew this and wouldn’t sign, We lose Dahlbeck for a rental, Clendenning for a nobody, I forgot we lost for Jimmy Hayes. Yet Q loves Versteeg, Bickell, Rozival,,,,and I almost forgot the great aquisition Brad Richards……Never liked that one from day one. It’s too bad because I would rather enjoy watching the line up I mentioned as opposed to the one we are stuck with. I”m not surprised Terravainen isn’t putting up numbers. He should have been playing center, 2nd or 3rd line from day 1 of training camp. And for all of you who will say I’m way off and look what Q has done for us…2 cups…..well that’s nice but don’t live in the past. Q’s rep in St. Louis and Colorado was the same…..he has a coaching life span of maybe 4 good years and then he implodes because he won’t trust in the young guys.
    Can’t fathom the Hawks getting out of the 1st round. Hope I’m wrong and hope Bowman and McDonnough wake up for next year before we lose more young potential stars like Kevin Hayes.

    • Aaeismacgychel

      Brad Richards on the Hawks:

      1.82pp60- 6th on Hawks
      54.3% CORSI- 3rd FW on Hawks
      +1.07% CORSI Rel- 4th FW on Hawks
      +3 penalty differential- 6th on Hawks

      And we only pay him $2M. So basically, we’re getting clear Top 6 and 2nd Center production for him for $2M. Isn’t that above and beyond our wildest dreams of what he’d do? Again, somebody give me an actual reason for the Brad Richards hate. I think it’s beyond ludicrous given both the eye test and his stats.

      • Jim

        I think the hate is because he doesn’t score a lot of goals. For a 3C or 4C he’s gold.

    • Just the Facts

      Why does Bowman get the blame for any of this? His job is to draft talent and make trades when necessary. But if Q won’t play young talent, he’s forced to trade the talent since otherwise he will get nothing for them at the end of the year. Last I looked the players that the Hawks have traded/failed to sign are doing pretty well on other teams. Wouldn’t you rather have any of those guys over guys like Carcillo or Rozy?

      It’s not Bowman’s job to overrule the coach on who he plays or what lineup he uses. Ultimately, the coach must be held accountable for those decisions. But don’t think for a second that Bowman has the authority to fire Q. The only way Q is gone is if the Hawks miss the playoffs one year or he decides to retire (or is convinced to “retire” by Wirtz/McDonough). No way the Hawks, who are concerned with PR above all else, are going to fire Q.

      I still believe that but for Carillo’s injury at the beginning of 2013, Saad would have been given the same treatment as all the other young players.

      Frankly, it would have been fascinating if Q had been the coach when Kane was a rookie because I think Kane’s defense and wandering (which both have greatly improved over time) would have driven Q nuts and caused him to do the same crazy moves with him that he’s done with almost all of the young talent.

      Explain to me how Leddy couldn’t play 10 minutes for Q but has been a key player for NYI (10 goals and playing 20+ minutes). Jimmy Hayes has 18 goals and Brandon Pirri 22 goals. Frolik has 18 goals for goodness sake.

      The Hawks say they are now being more aggressive in signing their picks. But hey have to be because young players don’t want to come there anymore. They are now agreeing to play rookies in one game to burn a year of the entry-level contract just to get them to sign. That isn’t being more aggressive, it’s paying the price for having rookie after rookie stapled to the bench or left in the press box so that guys like Carcillo and Rozy can play.

  • Jane Doe

    The way Bickell Teen Wolf’d the puck from Sharp en route to his goal last night perfectly summed up Sharp’s season.

    I don’t want to hear anymore commentators talking about how he skates faster with the puck, I don’t want to hear about puck luck and that he’s going to revert to his career shooting percentage eventually. He’s got to, Mister! Well, 66 games in and he’s still sporting a 6.6% shooting percentage. That must be Providence.

    Like the goal last night, the game has literally passed him by.

    • CoolTalk

      Did someone other than me actually write this.

      I love you Jane Doe!

    • Preacher

      “Teen Wolf’d the puck”?

      Great reference!

  • Matt

    Sometimes I wonder if Q is actually a sneaky evil genius. Some of his decisions have left us baffled and frustrated, but the fact of the matter is the Hawks have performed very, very well while he’s been here. Even the years they’ve lost haven’t really been unreasonable. Everybody wished the Hawks handled things like the Kings and look where they are. It sure looks like they’re playing for positioning and maybe that’s the way to go. From this standpoint, I’d rather play the Preds right now than the Blues or Wild.

    • Bobby Otter

      You could also argue that the Hawks have won in spite of Q (the 2010 team was damn near perfect; 2013 was almost as perfect yet Q still rolled Bollig out there in the SCF). It’s probably a little harsh, but there is a decent argument to be made at the same time.

  • Preacher

    I think Sam may be overthinking this one a bit. There is no way in Tartarus that Q or the Hawks are trying to lose a game to face a specific opponent. Now, there IS certainly the possibility that the players are not nearly as “up” for this opponent as they would be for the Kings and Blues (which translates as, “the Hawks didn’t care.”) I’ve been saying for the last month that the Hawks only seem to play their best against what they consider are opponents worthy of the effort. And clearly, the Wild are not that opponent to them.

    Why Rundblad and Rozy at the end? Q’s usual answer to such questions is, “Gut feeling.” He operates on the same principal that happens when you’re considering buying a new car and have your sights on a particular model: You begin to see that model everywhere you go. Q sees the 3 or 4 good plays Rozy makes a game and bases his “gut feeling” on those plays alone, not noticing all the turnovers, overhandling of the puck, poor passing and crappy coverage. After all, Rozy’s his guy.

  • Aaeismacgychel

    Maybe I was watching a different game, but I actually thought we put in the effort and wanted to win that game. I thought we went out and dominated most of the play that 1st period, had chances, and just didn’t score. In the 2nd I thought we played closer to the vest trying to limit Minnesota’s outlet passes and breaking through the neutral zone and were for the most part successful at that, but we’re best when on the attack and not defending, so Minnesota had a few A+ chances due to breakdowns that Corey had to be big to stop. That said, the Hawks did have chances as well, close chances too, and just couldn’t score. The 3rd period we were dominated, but it was two pretty bad defensive blunders that cost us. I don’t think we laid down or weren’t trying though. I just don’t think we got the bounces offensively. Minnesota pushed hard in that 3rd and our patchwork defense does what our patchwork defense does which is give up practically unstoppable chances. Crawford deserved a much better fate, but I don’t think the Hawks were bad. Far from it to be honest. And Q does have a bit of a point with us playing better on the road this year. I think I commented about that myself before the last game. We seem to play a simpler, smarter, more defensively responsible game on the road. Personally though, I don’t think home or road matters much at all this year outside of Nashville. Everyone else has even splits.

  • Patorioto

    They’ve been so up and down it is impossible to get a real handle on the team, so I decided I’m going to reserve judgement until a few games into the playoffs. I have an inkling Sam is partially right. These guys know their bodies and know what is coming. Not sure they particularly care who they play but probably would prefer to avoid the Blues and the punishment it would bring.

    Oh and if Rundblad plays any significant minutes in the postseason you can guarantee the Hawks are going nowhere. He’s good for at least one free goal per game.

    • To Saad be the glory

      And they are going far with Rozsival? Part of the problem with Rozi and Runblad is Q continues to force feed them into the top 4. If he’d leave shit well enough alone,give those 2 the sheltered 10-12 minutes a game they can handle as a 3rd pairing,a lot of this wouldn’t be a problem. As far as Runblad goes,he’s fourth on the team in +/-. How that happened, I don’t know for sure.One thing I do know,is a couple of shitty games does not a season make. If Q had the same attitude with benching Rozsival,maybe the Hawks would indeed be sitting in first place right now.

  • HossasPierogi

    I don’t know about y’all, but I’ve lost my enthusiasm for this team, and my first round playoff tickets are on the sales block. From Q’s head-scratching decisions to Keith’s erratic play and more, I’m done with them until they can show me, in the words of Q, “more.”

    • Jim

      Show some poise. I can see calling out Rosival, but Keith? Keith? Really? Keith?

      • HossasPierogi

        Rozsival has its obvious faults but also has become too much of a whipping boy. Keith is admittedly an all-star, Norris trophy-winning defenseman, but when he is bad, he can be spectacularly bad. He is also a subpar power play quarterback who has 42 percent of his shots blocked (according to what I read on this site). If the Hawks are going to turn things around, the core group must step it up. It’s time to stop blaming everything on Roszival. He’s not the problem; he’s part of the problem.

  • TitanTransistor

    What is up with Q’s myopia with Versteeg? Surely not even Q is dumb enough to believe Versteeg is one of the forwards you want out there with the game on the line?