I am actually a bit surprised that Joel Quenneville came out so quickly and so definitively to reaffirm Corey Crawford’s status as the starter for Friday night. It’s the right decision of course, but it wouldn’t be out of Q’s methodology to goose Crow a bit by letting it dangle until the morning skate tomorrow. Once a year it seems like Q would throw the starting job up in the air for a week or two, and Crow would almost always take it back. Even in 2013, Ray Emery got a week’s worth of starts while Crow was healthy, as almost a tease. Of course, behind that team, any of you could have started and it probably would have worked out all right during the regular season.
The real question Q should be asking himself, and the rest of the team for that matter, is why they’re depending on their goalie so much.
The rest of the Triumvirate has told me to just resign myself to this fate (COOAACCHHHH), and that the Hawks are just going to be what’s called a high-event team from here on out. For those who don’t know, that means they’re going to take a lot of shots, but they’re going to give up a ton too. I don’t know that you can get out of the Western Conference doing that.
At least I did, until I looked it up. Other than the 2012 Kings, who got a pretty cozy draw, the last five teams to come out of the West gave up over 29 shots per game. The 2009 Red Wings gave up over 28. So maybe you can’t suppress you’re way out of the West solely.
Still, there’s a difference between giving up 30 in a game, and giving up 15 and 17 in the 3rd period and OT, which the Hawks managed last night. Giving up 15 shots a period is going to cause some problems.
We’ve tried analyzing it various times over the season, but basically across the board that amount of shots and attempts each d-man on the Hawks sees against has gone up about 3-4 each per 60 this season. Because they’ve gone up the exact amount each, that means the additional attempts they’re giving up are all going through to the net. It would lead you to believe they’re of higher quality chances instead of fadeaway jumpers from the blue line.
And that is true to an extent. If you check out the team Hextally on War On Ice, the Hawks are giving up slightly above average the league rate of shots in the home-plate area, i.e. between the circles. They were slightly below average last year.
The numbers are great, but why is that happening? We could point to the turnovers in their own zone that were much more numerous than previous seasons as Oduya struggled for much of the year, not really having a third pairing, the forwards shirking responsibility, and the rest. I’m not sure that was the case last night. It’s one game, and it could be that the Preds, a pretty good possession team in their own right with about four or five d-men who can push the play, played a very good game and just came up short. Which doesn’t bode well for them for the rest of the series, because we can see where the Hawks can improve but I’m not sure where Nashville can.
Still, we’ve seen the Hawks do it, and recently. And while they may get away with high-event games against the Preds because they have a significant advantage in offensive talent, it may not work that way in later rounds. But then it might, it’s just going to be stressful as all get-out. While we may fear that Crow can’t make 35 saves a night four out of seven times for four rounds, you’d be hard pressed to find a goalie in the West who has proven he can. The one with the best case might actually be Jonas Hiller, and he only did it for two rounds in ’09. Maybe this is just the path the Hawks are going to have to walk, and we’ll need a lot of heartburn relief.
-As pointed out to me by McClure today in a conversation, it is pretty funny that there is a debate over who the Hawks should start, meanwhile Pekka Rinne gave up three goals in a period (one of them bad) to blow a 3-0 lead and yet no one is calling for Carter Hutton. No, Hutton has never put on the performance that Darling has basically all year. But Rinne’s playoff pedigree simply doesn’t match Crow’s either. Funny how this works.