In a season where I’ve begged coach and players to look at the big picture and not react game to game, I’m going to try and take the same tack. Sure, some of us wanted this one a little more than we might for any other regular season game. That’s because A) it’s always satisfying to see a team getting too much hype get its market correction (and I saw nothing tonight that convinced me the Avs won’t, as weird as that sounds in a 5-1 dry heave) and B) because the Avs are a garbage organization that deserves that correction. But it didn’t happen, and I don’t want to kick things over games in November.
And that scoreline tells a story that I’m not sure the game follows. Credit to Colorado who were opportunistic and their goalie Drunky McPunchPunch was stellar (must be easy at home where it’s easier to imagine the puck as a woman’s face). Just because you present a team with most of its chances doesn’t mean they don’t have to convert them and the Avs did.
But the Hawks… well, it was there. Could have been so much different. If one very important player wasn’t huffing paint, it very well might have been. Let’s get to the bullets..
-First, it’s not Q’s fault that he has to dress 7D tonight and then was left short when Bickell got hurt. Once Hossa wasn’t going to make the post, the Hawks had no margin of error. But there’s a question to be asked that why to start this trip there wasn’t an extra forward. The Hawks LTIR’d Handzus and Kostka for the specific reason to open up cap space to give them an extra player when they need it. I got why on Sunday against San Jose they didn’t, as the Hogs played both Friday and Saturday and any call-up would have been playing three games in three nights in three cities. But knowing that Hossa was at least possibly not going to play, someone should have been brought to Denver.
Now you’re up against it because both Khabby and Bickell are hurt but probably not long enough for LTIR. This was the jam that the Versteeg trade caused, and I feel like most of the beaters and a lot of fans (including myself) were in too much of a dizzy to notice. We notice now.
-Ok, on ice stuff that matters. Brent Seabrook was awful. One of the things I like about Q is that he rarely calls out a player in the press, except for maybe his goalies. I find it hard to remember a time when he’s mentioned a specific skater by name, in fact. But some kind of message needs to get to Seabrook (and that Maple Leaf-o-meter for his Olympic spot has less color than Lynyrd Skynyrd in his current state right now).
What do you do? I don’t want him playing centerfield for Leddy now either. Play him with Oduya and hope Bangkok Dangerous’s more stable game than Keith’s evens Seabs out? Get real liberal and scratch him for one game? Because Seabrook can blame a bounce all he wants or Eddie O can bend over backwards to absolve him, but that bank pass that went awry was lazy and off. You could see before it hit the boards that it was on a shallow angle, and the carom was true. And he wasn’t exactly beating it to the middle to make up for it.
Third Avs goal, Keith was chasing Talbot all over but then Seabrook went behind his net to leave Mitchell all alone from a foot and a half out. This isn’t InTelevision hockey and it’s Max fucking Talbot. What’s he going to do from back there?
Without those two goals, the Hawks are still very much in it after 1.
-And they may have gotten back into it even still, but I guess it’s everyone’s duty to make sure they take a megaphone out on the ice with them to make sure Bollig hears them, at least according to Olczyk. There’s no excuse for not getting that puck to the middle for a two-on-nuthin’, especially when you’re on the boards and looking at the whole ice.
Look, Bollig has had a good game here and there and I applaud his attempts to be a useful 4th liner. But he’s hardly crossed the threshold into indispensable. I know what meatballs would tell me, “HEY NO ONE HAD TAKEN ANY LIBRARIANS WIT’ KANE AND TAZE-MAN SO HE MUSTA BE DOIN’ HIS JOB, FELTS!” That fits squarely in the “This Rock Keeps Tigers Away” category. Especially against a team as fast as the Avs, there’s no reason he isn’t rotating pressobox duty with Morin or Nordstrom or name your forward. Though maybe he can’t now with the cap troubles, but again, LTIR solves that.
-One of the reasons the Avs give the Hawks so much trouble is that the it’s not in the Hawks DNA to go more conservative. They still pinch aggressively because against pretty much every other team the D-men are confident either they or their forwards can get back in time. But if you’re not starting in a position above the Avs, you’re not going to catch them. Goals four and five were off pinches, and the Hawks have to be aware of that in future contests.
-On the plus side, Smith and Pirri get better every game. That won’t continue forever, but it’s not far away from where I can say I feel safe with them taking some kind of role in the spring.
-Hard to get a reading on Raanta, as the two goals were breaks and the fifth was kind of unlucky. He looked nervous as you might expect. I hope that will even out on Thursday, when I hope he starts. But will Q feel he has to set things right immediately then and start Crow again?
-Put it in the trash and move on. That’s all you can do.