Take Me To Your Backwoods: Game 2-3

Going back over something I may have left out in the aftermath of Game 2 and heading into Game 3.

-The score kind of blights it, but the Kings and Hawks at even-strength had the same amount of Corsi events, Fenwick, and shots on goal. That might lead some to conclude that we had a return of “CRAW-STINK IS TERRIBLE” but really only Carter’s goal would I have a problem with (Muzzin’s was pretty perfectly placed). Just one of those things where their power play scored one more goal than the Hawks (and the Hawks really can’t lose the special teams battle because this makes it clear just how even they are at equal strength) with the Kings punching back on the counter.

Really I think it just illustrates how even these two teams are, and how all of us might have gotten carried away a little by Game 1 and the first 38 minutes of Game 2.

-Speaking of Crawford, while the national media loves to pick apart the glove hand, Crow’s biggest weakness or tendency is when a player is coming down one of the wings and he gets off his angle. All throughout his career, if an attacking player is coming down on the rush on one of the circles with a shooting lane, Crow has had a tendency to leave his shortside way too open. Usually it’s when coming down his left and that glove, but Carter was on the other side and still had plenty of room shortside. I’m sure this is listed higher on the scouting report than his glove.

-One of the things the Kings did expose in Game 2, and the Wild did throughout the second round, is that the Hawks just don’t have the depth they did last year. We can talk about “they haven’t played 60 minutes yet,” but the thing is with the holes in the lineup they really can’t. They can’t roll four units who can consistently push the play every shift. At some point, Versteeg’s vacant gape and whatever pod person is parading around as Patrick Sharp take the ice. Or Handzus gets beat. Or the 4th line can’t overcome it’s insane zone starts. Against a team as good as the Kings, they’ll take advantage.

At forward, the Kings are the deeper team. They have Stoll and Williams on their third line, and Williams has been consistently one of the better possession players in the league for years. The Hawks have the aforementioned confusion. This isn’t Michael Frolik and Kruger combining to push things any more.

-Andrew Shaw’s return should help, and more than I would have thought. If nothing else Shaw plays in straight lines and does get in on the forecheck (even more so when on a wing, which is where he should be). The Hawks have really lacked that on the bottom six since Saad has been moved to play with Kane. We mentioned Versteeg and Sharp’s problems, Bollig just can’t get there in time leaving Smith and Kruger to do it mostly themselves. Smith had one of his more effective games in the corners in Game 2, somewhat due to a flipping of their usual zone starts (they only started three shifts in their end).

Of course, Shaw will probably replace Regin which would only be a slight improvement. Whereas coming in for Versteeg or Bollig would be a massive one. Then again Smith is probably going to be needed between Kane and Saad in L.A.. Unless the plan is to have all the Kings centers get in a massive brawl on their bench fighting over who gets to skate against Handzus and hurt themselves.

-Sharp makes for a real conundrum, because when he’s not active in the offensive zone, for whatever reason, it’s hard to figure out what he does. At this point I wonder if you can have him playing with anyone else other than players who can make up for what he’s not doing right now, which is basically Hossa and Toews. That would leave Bickell to help out lower down the lineup, maybe on the other side of Regin and Shaw? Regin and Morin sounds even better, with Handzus being told to go to Manhattan Beach and stay there. But that won’t happen.

-The thought of last-change in this series switching to LA now really has me itchy. Unless Sutter keeps opting to have Toews and Kopitar skating against each other, concluding that no one else on the Kings can handle the assignment (which might be true). But again, the Hawks can’t really flourish with the top two lines playing to a standstill like they did last year, unless Saad can keep channeling son of Zeus form like in Game 1.

-Another example that the Hawks lack attacking depth is that once again another bottom pairing for an opponent had an easier night than they should have. We remember Clayton Stoner not getting what he should have had coming to him. Game 2 saw Alec Martinez be the Kings’ Corsi leader, and his partner Matt Greene not too far behind him. Sure, Greene got turned into plasma by Nick Leddy on a power play, but that should have happened more and more. It didn’t. Only Doughty and Muzzin suffered on the possession board because they had to deal with Toews and Hossa consistently.

Obviously, this is why we push for Morin because no matter his faults, he drives possession and the Hawks need it on their bottom six. You want Greene, Martinez, Mitchell, and Voynov on their heels and chasing in their zone. Hawks haven’t done it enough.


  • Please Stop Playing Bollig

    Q gets better as the series goes on because he has a winning hand to start with and he eventually plays it. Bollig got suspended against the Wild so it prevented Q from figuring out that he has to keep him out of the lineup. The only issue I see is whether Q lets the team go down 3-1 before he finally starts playing the best 12 forwards. If he would just put the best 12 out there the line combination stuff will end up fine.

  • GypsyDanger86

    That’s what’s so frustrating about this. Coming in, these are two great teams, and the series could have been a coin-flip anyway. But if (big IF), the Hawks do lose, it’s feeling more and more like it’s going to be the result of roster mismanagement than their players simply outplaying ours.

    • ballyb11

      Roster mismanagement.

      That’s the problem.

  • jordyhawk

    Series feels a bit like SCF last year. Outplayed but win game 1. Have lead until late second but can’t close deal and lose game 2. Just like with B’s last year, Kings look stronger right now. We seem to be in same position where we have to find something more. To hoist the silver you have to grab a win on the road; it’s just one of the tests you have to pass. Kings have done it. Now it’s up to us. It was never going to be easy.

    • Peter Turner

      Well if it’s gonna be like SCF last year, it means we’ll lose on Satuday and be down 2-1 but win 3 straight after that. I say we need to think out of the box. To truly match Tyfoli – Carter – Pearson, we should junk the dead weight and put Nordstrom – Kruger – Morrin out there and let the young wingers duke it out amongst themselves.

      • Jim

        Everybody knows this, but they won’t do it.
        There must be company politics. Q just can’t break some kind of protocol that says veterans play, and the young guys sit. Even if it means losing.

  • 2883

    It needs to be Bollig.


    23-16-28 (Gross,Steeger really doesn’t fit here).

    • GypsyDanger86

      I would try 29-19-88 personally. Kane needs to get going, and Toews can help that happen.

      Sharp is a mess right now, and as Sam pointed out, needs somebody like Hossa to compensate and get the most out of whatever’s left. So put them on the 2nd line with Zus or Shaw.

      Personally, I would bust Zus down to the forth line and let him take Bollig’s spot. He’d get less ice time and be fresher for PKs, plus it might be helpful to have a second center on that line in case of Kruger getting waved out on a defensive zone draw.

      • 2883

        FWIW my intiial lines were…

        I wouldn’t mind these lines either

      • Jim

        I’d rather see Morin than Sharp in the WCF. Ever thought you would see those words in type? And kind of agree?

        • Bob Lanz

          Comeon… Sharp is a proven entity. He plays both ways and just does everything right. I like morin and believe he should never be benched in favor of bollig even if it means fourth line minutes for him but alas Q

          • GypsyDanger86

            Yes, but Sharp has been absolutely dreadful this post-season. He’s looked particularly terrible since the Minnesota series began.

            Nobody really believes that he’s going to be replaced, but based on his level of play as of late (not on what he’s actually capable of), it’s hard to imagine Morin being much worse.

  • Sparky_The_Bard-barian

    Depth. Good point. NBC has talked about Q ‘Rolling four lines,’ but it’s a myth. That fourth line *may* get better with Shaw’s return and the inevitable juggling.

    I’ve said since draft day that this was a retooling year, and I did not expect this team to contend this year. They have made a bit of a fibber out of me. I will be happy if they make a damned liar out of me, but I will not be wailing or gnashing my teeth if we don’t make it out of this round.

    Present has possibilities, and our future is brighter than any other teams.

    • Even Ferraro on TSN–a pretty good colour guy–maintained the use of our fourth line in Game 2 was Q’s hidden weapon, and talked about Q’s dependence on them … at a point when Bollig, I think, had skated for about 3 or 4 minutes total.

      I still like our chances. SCF teams get better as they move through rounds, and there’s no reason to expect that we’ll see only the Hawks of Game 1 Period 2 or Game 2 Period 3. We’ve won 4 periods so far. If we win the same number over the next 6, or even fare worse, there’s no reason not to expect at least a split in LA.

    • FattyBeef

      Timely goals and stellar goaltending. If game close having Toews and Kane to finish is a massive advantage. But tactically they are giving away the blue line and the neutral zone way to much for my liking. It is reminiscent of 11-12.

    • Jim

      The loss of Sharp hurts. He was our leading scorer. And with Shaw not there, that hurt also, those are top guys. Versteeg is not performing to expectations, and Handzus/Rosival are another year older. Still, with all that, we’re talking about one bad period being the difference here. And a timely save by Quick. If Seabrook’s goal goes in, LA would have been buried.

  • I’m definitely among those who was lulled into a false sense of confidence by the first 98 minutes of this series. Lesson learned.

    But two key points you make, Sam, one I agree wholeheartedly with and one I kind of question. The 60 minutes thing … unfortunately we’re necessarily built as a 50/55 minute team this year because of the lack of depth (or SCF depth, that is). I agree with you. So there’ll be stretches this year where we simply have to weather the storm. It’s a function of our not maintaining the same depth we had last year–and it’s tough to fault anyone for that–but it’s also a function of the Blues, Wild, and Kings each getting better in that department. Lapierre and Porter, Niederreiter and Cooke and Haula, Toffoli and Pearson … they all play/ed stupidly well by comparison with our depth.

    One thing, though, about Morin … I just can’t see eye-to-eye with the possession-monster image. He basically doesn’t start a shift in the defensive zone, and at worst gets a neutral zone start on the other side of the red line–and at home he sees the weakest competition besides. He’s just not going to see a lot of Corsi events agasint with that kind of usage.

    • FattyBeef

      Yea but J-MO wins a lot of board battles and always seems to find himself in a scoring position. Pretty crafty stuff, especially his sneakiness getting to the front of the net. Can’t be worse than Bollig or Versteeg at this point.

      • jordyhawk

        Morin’s defense is too sketchy for this level of play and not as good as Versteeg’s. The only way he gets in is if we’re down 3-1 and not scoring. I like Morin, but now is not the time to risk him.

      • I agree with jordy below. I like Morin and I think he has a future here, I just don’t think he’s defensively reliable enough to play right now. For all of Bollig and Versteeg’s faults, they’re not nearly the timebombs Morin is in our own end.

    • ballyb11

      My kingdom for 55 / 60 minutes.

  • GypsyDanger86

    According to Powers:

    Full lines were Bickell-Toews-Hossa, Sharp-Handzus-Kane, Saad-Shaw-Versteeg, Bollig-Kruger-Smith.


    • 2883

      Great. That second line makes it Kane vs everyone else. I like the 3rd line though, I think that line can do some damage if Saad can get his goal scoring touch that he’s flashed back. 4th line is blah city.

      • ballyb11

        4th line is blah city?

        I like Kruger, Smith. Even with (oh my fucking God, BOLLIG) Bollig, it’s a decent line, IMHO.

      • Hags

        I don’t agree regarding the 3rd line. Shaw can’t possibly be skating at 100%, and obviously Versteeg is giving the Hawks nothing. So now your asking Saad to do the majority of forechecking AND to provide some scoring punch, that’s an awful lot to ask. let’s just roll out Versteeg and Bollig on the same line for their inevitable 6 minutes of ice time and shelter their zone starts. Maybe lines of

        That way, 19 and 81 can drag the remains of Patrick Sharp around, Bickell and Kane could find some of their postseason magic, and the 3rd line could at least get the forecheck going and make life hell against the bottom pairings.

  • ballyb11

    I wasn’t carried away by Game 1.

  • John Nolan

    I’m pretty surprised no one mentioned the pretty bad beating the Hawks took at the dot Wednesday. 43-27. Esp if LA is, in fact, rolling 4 lines and we can’t it matters. The disadvantage is huge when trying to clear the zone.

    • Peter Turner

      Blocked shots down went down from 17 – 25 in game 1 to 17 – 13 in game 2. HJammer/Oduya only played 4/5 mins less than in game 1 though.

  • jacquescloutier

    fun with numbers [piling on edition]: handzus has 6 total shots on goal in the playoffs so far [one more than bollig has, in twice the even strength ice time]. this translates to about one shot on goal every seven periods. while the three forwards he’s spent the most time on ice with have been sharp, hossa, and kane. not to mention having the worst relative corsi/fenwick on the team, with middle of the road zone starts and middle of the road quality of competition.

    for whatever he brings to the defensive/penalty kill side [that couldn’t possibly be replicated by anyone else], he’s an absolute black hole for the offense.

  • Joe Banks

    Great article Sam, I totally agree with everything you said. (Did I just say that?)
    And yet, Q continues to drag Bollig, Versteeg, Handzus, and Sharp along for the ride.
    Maybe we can put 3 of them together and call it the “Fuck it” line?
    I fear that LA is just too good (and coaching staff too smart) for this to continue.
    Let’s hope we can improve our game 3 record tonight! (I’m thinking we sold game 2 to the devil to make this happen)

  • Say what again

    Every time I look at faceoff numbers it still never seems like there are that many total per game.

  • whenhabsscoreDougMohns

    Yes,consensus. & J.’s 12/16/28 also from this peanut gallery.

    Despite valiant efforts by dedicated Blackhawk players,
    another coach/management loss pissing away those efforts with
    poor decisions. I’m sure I saw Bollig & Rozsi in the press box
    but I guess even a broken clock is right twice a day.
    Brookbanks +4 must have scared them off in favor of -2 & -3.
    Still waving the 32/8 kryptonite around. At least the criticism was
    muted, Scrivens & Strombone would understand. Should have gone to NBA,
    where if you do your job, only the backboard & rim are left to blame
    when others screw up. Gardien is a tough task.
    Probably too late, but I hear the strains of the forecheck antidote,
    is that Lois Lane?

    I’m caught in the trap,
    I can’t skate out,
    because I have those gosh darn yippies.

    27/8 No? 4/17 No? Then:
    harmonize it
    harmonize it good.

    And an 8,17;
    & again, 8,17;
    take it home now,
    Yeah; last one,
    8,17; 8/17; 8:17

    You got it……..
    You got it…..
    You got it?

  • whenhabsscoreDougMohns

    There is more room in the pool with the increased
    chlorine, so a 2nd post is plausible.

    The icehole fishermen who were taunting Notre Gardien
    should have asked a few Clydesdales how that worked out.
    Inspector Crawford solved the case of the undeserved
    taunts & St. Louis was left with the Blues.
    Corey rode in to Minn on the Clydesdales he won
    fair & square & shut the taunters up.
    How about a little beach time in Laguna like the
    20 something Tony 0,who was Mr.Cool
    with long sideburns & a green Mustang.
    Gird your loins, it’s Meryl Streep country.
    L.A. is probably too suave,but if they taunt
    Inspector Crawford, they also may be running laps with Crow Rocks T shirts on.
    Then on to The Crow’s Nest!
    Ecoutez, Kools & Mr. Button & Panger are rockin the Crow, baby!

    Taunters Begone (Mofas fuera de aqui?)

    • I don’t know what this says, but chlorine, Clydesdales and Meryl Streep? Sure, why the hell not.