The narrative of a hockey game can be rather poetic. The natural ebb and flow of a game sways your emotions in ways that few other things can do. It is art. Case in point: last night's game against the Sharks.
Our beloved captain goes down, there is little hope for victory. But wait! The Hawks score first! There is hope yet! Our hopes are dashed though when the Sharks score three straight. We shall head into the final frame down two goals. All is lost. Not too fast! Two goals within the last 27 seconds of the 2nd period and the Hawks have tied it and they have captured momentum! Surely it will carry over into the final 20 minutes! But alas, like any tragedy, our hearts are ripped out of our chests and soiled on.
Maybe I'm taking this loss a little too hard. Or maybe I just need some sleep.
This game was entirely winnable for the Hawks, and there is no excuse for not walking out of the UC with at least one point. Its a disappointing loss for sure. Can't keep dropping points and all that jazz that we've harped on OVER AND OVER. Instead of that, let's take a more micro view of this game.
Contributions to the Loss:
#1: Faceoffs. My first thought when I heard Toews would be out for an extended time was that we would never win a faceoff ever again. I had no idea how close to the truth that would actually be. A look at the faceoff numbers shows exactly how dreadful the Hawks were. Tomas Kopecky LED THE TEAM IN FACEOFF PERCENTAGE. I put that in all caps in case you thought you were reading it wrong. Thats the first sign that should make you say "oh shit."
As a group, the centers were god awful. The Hawks were 5 for 15 in the defensive zone. Must have been damn easy for the Sharks to set up an offense when they didn't have to retrieve a puck out of the zone ever. Joe Thornton pretty much dominated everyone from the dot with the exception of Jake Dowell who posted a 50% on faceoffs. Jake Dowell and Tomas Kopecky led the team in faceoff percentage. That's never good for puck possession time.
#2: Stupid and Lazy Penalties Coupled with a Shit PK. Those are two separate things in my book. Boynton and Cullimore don't have very high hockey IQ. I get that. If there was a way to just upgrade from them, it would be done. They took some really costly penalties against a team with a really skilled power play. Instead of doing the simple task of "just continue skating backwards", Cullimore decides to wrap an arm around a guy after a dump in. The Sharks scored the game winner right as he came out of the box. I should toss Kopecky's high stick in this category too.
Then you have penalties like Seabs got called on to give the Sharks a 5 on 3. He has to move his feet when he gets caught out of position. Instead, he throws the stick out and trips the guy who beat him. The Hawks took too many penalties to win. If they had last year's PK units, we might be telling a different story. But wish in one hand and shit in the other and see which fills up first.
- Soupy played a really good game. Notice how he gained the zone right before his goal. A lot of guys would just chip it in and coast to the end of the period. He skated hard and forced Hammer to play the puck up to get one last rush before the end of the period. And then he had the awareness to drive to the net as time expired. Had the Hawks won, that would have been the play that changed it all.
- Power play is still working pretty well, I see. I mentioned last year when the PP was struggling that opposing PKs were cheating to one side because having Kane, Toews, and Hossa as the forwards meant that one side didn't have a one-timer threat, due to all three being lefties. Proof, meet pudding. Patrick Sharp's 8 power play goals is good for 5th in the NHL.
- I was literally standing in disbelief as Kopecky took the faceoff coming out of the timeout with Turco pulled. I was astonished. And then he lost the draw cleanly. Of course, after I looked at the numbers I realized that he was the only Hawks with a winning record during the game.
- Then again, it didn't help that after easily losing the draw he turned the puck over in the neutral zone leading to an empty netter to put the nail in the coffin.
- Cullimore and Boynton are who we thought they were.
- Good on the Hawks to sign Foley and Edzo for three more years. I don't mind them having fun in the booth while the game is going on. I have both eyes and ears for a reason. Besides, if blind people want to experience hockey, they'd be much better off going with the awesome description from John Wideman on the radio.
- Troy Murray said on the radio at the end of the 2nd period that Coach Q told him that they need to get at least a point. Yeah....bout that.
- In line with all the ridiculous resolutions that will be made for New Years, I resolve to not let the Hawks lose any games in 2011. I hope the players don't enjoy the night off too much.