The Blackhawks appeared to sleepwalk through another game tonight as dropped a 3-1 decision to the Calgary Flames. While mathematically it is not yet panic time, this teams roller coaster play means it is time for Stan Bowman to do something, anything to try to wake his team up. After the game Brian Campbell, who has been the Blackhawks best defenseman this year said, “If we are a playoff team then we have to prove it. Right now, obviously, we’re not a playoff team.” He could not be more right.
The Blackhawks are now 5-10-1 when tied after 40 minutes of play. This is a direct result of the make up of this team. There is only one solid offensive line at even strength and that is the Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Troy Brouwer line. As for the second line, Patrick Sharp has been saddled with the rumor of Marian Hossa, and Tomas Kopecky who simply isn’t a top 6 forward in the NHL. Dave Bolland has been playing better of late, flanked by Fernando Pisani and Bryan Bickell has been an okay third line, but Bolland’s 44.% at the dot is forcing the line to do a lot of chasing.
The construction problem however is more than just talent deep. On nights like tonight, when a team is forcing the Hawks to play dump and chase hockey and then shutting down the middle of the zone the Hawks seem more than happy to play on the outside. I am loath to accuse players of not caring, or “believing in their own hype” as one of my friends says, as I don’t think its fair to guess at what is going on inside an athletes head; but, Jonathan Toews recently admitted that this team plays up and down to its opponent. That is unacceptable. The result is a team that is 27-22-4, with 58 points over 53 games 3 points and 3 seeds out of the post season. With three weeks until the trade deadline it is time for Bowman to shake things up.
- The Hawks only managed 3 shots in the first period, a season low.
- The Flames first goal was the result of a rush play in which Jake Dowell and Viktor Stalberg were simply beat up ice. The Flames were allowed to carry the puck into the zone way too much tonight, but good sticks from the defense broke-up several rush plays. Unfortunately, twice a shooter came free, and twice the puck ended up in the net.
- Tomas Kopecky has 0 points and is -5 over his last 5 games. He is not a top 6 forward, but if Joel Quenneville stuck with him through a 14 game, 1 goal, 0 assist, -17 stretch earlier this season I don’t think he will make a change now.
- Nick Boynton continues to make poor decisions, there is no way he is better than Jordan Hendry.
- Brent Seabrook’s unsportsmanlike penalty with less than 2 minutes to play in a 1 goal game can’ t happen.
- Edmonton beat Nashville 4-0 which helps.