In a fair hockey world, Andrew Ladd probably doesn’t deserve all the blame for his team’s loss on Wednesday night to an archrival. It’s not his fault his top defensive pair combined for another pillow soft play which resulted in the other team celebrating. He’s not to blame for his brain-dead teammate taking a penalty 200 feet away from his own net.
Ah, but this hockey world can sometimes be very cruel and it was Ladd’s shift at the end of the second period that ended up being the difference in the tilt.
With less than one minute in the period and the Hawks trailing 2-1, Ladd was the triggerman on a 3-on-1 with Dave Bolland and Patrick Sharp. Coming down on the right wing, Ladd had the whole play developing right in front of him with the puck on his strong side.
The Blues defenseman (I don’t recall who) played the situation so horribly he left Bolland and Sharp completely wide open. With a tie game just a couple passes (maybe just one if he saucered it to Bolland) away, Ladd chose the worst option and decided to take a shot at tying the game on his own. A bad decision became even worse when his shot sailed wide and became an easy breakout for the Blues.
Ladd’s shift didn’t end there, though. When the Hawks defused the Blues ensuing counterattack, Ladd found the puck on his stick along the boards. Rather than making the easy pass to a nearby defenseman, he took his chances with a 70-foot ‘hope’ pass to Patrick Sharp. Roman Polak happily intercepted the pass just inside the Hawks blue line and with Jay McClement streaking towards the front of the net unmolested, the puck was in the back of the net before you could say, “Bad idea.”
The sequence of events put a mushroom stamp on a particularly lousy second period from the Hawks. Holding a 1-0 lead thanks to Patrick Kane’s breakaway theatrics in the first period, the Hawks didn’t appear particularly interested in the night’s event. Cristobal Huet did his part in keeping the Hawks in front by stopping Paul Kariya on a breakaway. But when Duncan Keith tried making a soft pass to Brent Seabrook behind the net, Kariya swooped in and found David Backes to tie the score at 1.
Backes would score his second goal seven minutes later on the power play when his point shot hit Brent Seabrook a few feet in front of Huet and deflected past him.
In the third period, the Hawks sent a barrage of shots on Chris Mason. Ladd hit the post in the opening minute; Byfuglien made a neat little tip from four feet out. It was only when Jonathan Toews weaved through the entire Blues power play unit and found Marian Hossa standing all alone on the doorstep that the Hawks solved him.
The one goal deficit was as close as the Hawks would come and in the end, it was Ladd’s horrific shift to close out the second period that ended up costing the Hawks at least one point.
–Ah yes, the old “First game back from a long road trip” excuse. Not nearly as popular as the “Our defensive coverage blows” or “One of our top 6 forwards is a bonehead” excuses, but still. I don’t recall when it became one of the seven deadly sins to return home from a road trip. The Hawks played like poo-poo, the location of their last game didn’t have a whole lot to do with that.
–It didn’t take long to scrap Dave Bolland as a 4th line center. As soon as the Hawks went down a couple goals, Quenneville started mixing and matching him with numerous combinations. His favorite combination was putting Bolland in between Hossa and Sharp. The trio combined for some solid pressure in the third period. All in all, it was a fairly quiet return for Bolland. Though there was a bit of a scare late in the third when Bolland got smoked in the back by a Blues defenseman in front of Mason.
—Ham Sandwich saw a significant chunk of his ice time cut out while only seeing 15:16. There’s no doubt he’s fairly banged up as he’s been unable to practice with the team for quite some time. Do I dare ask to see a bit more of Cam Barker while Sandwich rests his various bumps and bruises? Barker played a fairly strong game by his standards. With the Hawks so far in front of the pack, it would behoove them to find out how Barker responds to added responsibility. Just please for the love of Bob McGill, don’t pair him with Brian Campbell.
*On the Farm*
–The IceHogs continued their domination over the Grand Rapids Griffins with a 5-3 win. Evan Brophey had a goal and an assist, as did Mark Cullen, and Bryan Bickell scored a goal with two assists. Corey Crawford stopped 24 of the 27 shots he faced.
–Somehow in the OHL All-Star Game that saw the two teams combine for 27 goals, Shawn Lalonde didn’t have a point. For the record, Lalonde’s team won 17-10.
—Kyle Beach scored the game-winning goal in a 2-1 win over the Everett Silvertips. Byron Froese was scoreless.