Getting Strong Now: Hawks go 2-1 in California

Here’s all you need to know about the Hawks final leg of their annual Circus road trip: They played well enough to win all three games.  Coming off a previous weekend where they looked like they’d never played together before, it was a pleasant turn of events.

In San Jose, the Hawks were unable to capitalize on four golden opportunities: a Bryan Bickell breakaway, two Marian Hossa semi-breakaways (only one of which he hit the net on), and Dave Bolland completely biffing an empty net on the power play.  So they ended up losing 1-0 in an otherwise very well played game.

In Anaheim, the Hawks were able to overcome some shoddy goaltending from Corey Crawford and Jonathan Toews turned into a demon spawn from hell in between the second intermission.

Finally, in Los Angeles, the Hawks were fortunate enough that Trent Hunter completely biffed his own empty net opportunity.  So perhaps everything evened itself out.

–Two years ago at this time, (supposedly) the only thing holding back the Hawks from the Cup was their goalie.  Regardless of what was happening in front of him, Cristobal Huet was always to blame.  Even after he played an occassional solid stretch of games, it was accompanied by a “Yeah, but….”.

I mention this because Corey Crawford finds himself in a similar stretch of games where if he was a big name free agent signing, there would be hand-wringing from here to Saskatoon.

The difference, of course, is that Crawford isn’t a free agent signing.  Since he was a product of the Hawks farm system, though, he apparently is exempt from being blamed.  Suddenly, instead of being a city of goalie experts, everyone has become a master at defensive positioning.

On this road trip alone, Crawford cost them the game in Calgary and nearly cost them the game in Anaheim.  That would have been enough for a civic emergency two years ago.

–While Patrick Kane has been better than anyone could have imagined at center, his line is still giving up the lion’s share of opportunities against on the road.  In Los Angeles, there was at least three times when they got stuck out there against Anze Kopitar’s line and were lucky to not get stuck with a minus on the shift.

It seems like the secret is out and opposing teams are doing whatever they can to get their top line against Kane’s.  This isn’t an indictment; most teams try to do this.  The problem lies when Dave Bolland’s line gets equally housed as it did in Alberta.  As we have said from the beginning of this year, it seems like as goes Bolland, so goes the Hawks.  And for a guy notorious for disappearing for long stretches, that is a frightening proposition.

–Marcus Kruger had an outstanding road trip.  By the third period in Anaheim, Joel Quenneville had moved him to Dave Bolland’s wing and kept him there in Los Angeles.  He is much stronger on the puck than he was just a couple months ago and his soft touch passes are finding holes instead of opposing sticks.  Sure, he’s probably not the next Henrik Zetterberg but he’s probably not the next Christian Ruutu either.

–“The Walking Dead” completed the first half of its second season on Sunday as well.  I will say for as bad as the search for Sophia dragged the story down, the finale was a very good payoff to that search.

I’m hoping this episode was finally the turning point for Rick.  He doesn’t have to be Shane(generally a total psychopath) but he doesn’t have to be a Southern gentleman at all times either.  This is the zombie apocalypse for crying out loud, who cares what the old man at the farm says, do whatever you think is right.

As the group leaves the farm (which I fully anticipate happening when the show picks up in February) I’m hoping the show doesn’t follow the comics in the group’s next move.  The best part of the first season was how dangerous every moment seemed.  At the farm, there was never that impending sense of dread.  A good stretch of open road traveling should make the show as popular as it was a year ago.  Also, they could stand to lose a couple members of their current band of survivors (Sophia’s mom, who I’m not sure has a name, has to be number one on that list).

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12 Responses to Getting Strong Now: Hawks go 2-1 in California

  1. rich Lindbloom says:

    funny, the growing criticism of crow had me thinking of Huet this weekend. It got to the point where I was watching a game where Huet made three incrdible saves in a row and one of the friends watching the game with me went , “Darn,”

    Personally, I’m not worried about corey, although if your surrounded by pessimism you can sink in that quicksand in a hurry. Kudo’s to the Blackhawk fowards, Especially Kruger and Frolic for playing defense first, against the Kings.

    It seemed like there was a Rugby scrum going on in front of Crow’s net the last five minutes of the LA game. Yet so many bloggers and writers were still in the “Yeah he played ok, but….”

  2. dmbeast says:

    Crawford isn’t getting paid like Huet was. Crawford is very worth his salary. Huet was about $4 mil overpaid. :P

  3. BobbyJet says:

    It’s scary when you start judging your starting goalie by how much money they make. Crawford is not my type of goalie but has done okay for Hawks so far. Last season he was over-hyped I felt. He was good, don’t get me wrong but he still let in the odd goal that a reflex goalie might save. This year is not much different though I do see a tendency for him to be more aggressive, which can hinder his biggest asset of positioning. I was hoping that Emery could push him a little this year, and though it is still possible, now I’m not sure that will happen. I do like Crawford ahead of Niemi however, when it comes to consistency, and I am not too concerned about his play. He’s no Brodeur but he isn’t bad either.

  4. BobbyJet says:

    Those games against Calgary and Edmonton were difficult to watch, however the team showed some good push- back in the last 3 games of the Circus road trip and salvaged it somewhat. If they can get 2 points on Tuesday, I think their November can be deemed a successful month.

  5. HawkVision says:

    I agree (about TWD) that they need to get back on the road and trim, or switch out, a couple characters. Admittedly, I didn’t figure out Sophia was in the barn until Shane started his dramatic rant before opening up the door…but, a great mid-season finale. It’ll be interesting how Herschel handles everything now, as it seems the group (some of them, anyway) is officially taking over his land.

  6. CT says:

    I object to use the of the term “golden opportunity” in reference to a Bryan Bickell breakaway.

    Also, if Kruger ends up as a pre-broken ankle Christian Ruuttu, I’ll be satisfied. And now you’ve made me defend Christian Ruuttu. YOU MONSTERS.

  7. SouthSideHawkMan says:

    I really never worry about Crow back there, he has proven to be an above average NHL goalie, he did have a horrible Alberta trip but even the good ones have off games. He is a top 10 NHL goalie in my book.

  8. Cam says:

    There are no pleasant turn of events with this team. It’s a bad mix with way too much dead weight. Two years ago the Hawks lost a slew of games in which you could say they were the better team, sometimes by a wide margin. Can anyone say that about even one loss this year? Counting this disaster against Phoenix, the Hawks have been blitzed three times in a week by teams with, theoretically, far less talent.

    There are about 8-10 players worth keeping on this roster and even some of them regularly look like they don’t give a crap.

  9. John says:

    Let the 2009-2010 season go. That team was a freak of nature. We probably won’t see a team of that talent level for quite some time in the league. Comparing this team or any Hawks team in the future is simply as unfair as it gets.

  10. Cam says:

    I’m only comparing the teams in the sense that you could tell that team was legit if they could just improve their goaltending issues. Even in most of their defeats, there were many positives and things to get excited about. They were rarely trampled and even more rarely significantly outplayed. This year they often look helpless.

  11. Deborah says:

    Ten Ways to Make ‘The Walking Dead’ less stupid. If you are a fan and care:

    http://litreactor.com/columns/top-10-ways-to-make-the-walking-dead-less-stupid

  12. John says:

    Yeah I can see those being valid concerns. Only thing that kind of jumps out to me as premature is the instant demand for who knew about Sophia. Kirkman has said in a few interviews that question gets answered very quickly in their first episode back. Going by his word, I find it hard to get all huffy-puffy about it unless they truly do ignore it or the answer is unsatisfactory.

    Also, I’ve seen interviews where the producers of Walking Dead said they enjoy having their characters make the wrong decision just because every other show, the characters always make the right decision. I can respect that. Even if it does involve an episode where a kid gets lowered down a 30 foot zombie infested well via rope when the farm has three other fully functioning wells.

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