Chicken Little tells you that the sky is falling

Perhaps we should have noted a disclaimer for our short series prediction: It wasn’t made with the thought of Antti Niemi of completing wetting himself. 

You could toss out any immeasurable intangible that gets thrown around after a playoff loss: intensity, urgency, desire, whatever.  The bottom line is whatever buzz the Hawks created with their decent first period went right down the toilet when Niemi kicked a juicy rebound on a lazy flip shot from the corner with less than 15 seconds in the opening frame. 

If people want to start throwing rose petals at the feet of Michael Grabner and Rick Rypien while proclaiming the Canucks four lines deep, then I would recommend you not operate any heavy machinery. 

The reasons for why the Hawks looked so bad on Saturday are endless but the simplest (and probably most correct) reason was they were let down in net; the Canucks were not.  End of story.  

Dress Adam Burish.  Stop changing lines.  Brent Sopel sucks again.  No intensity.  No FIRE!  No PASSION!

None of those factors matter if Niemi doesn’t crap the bed.  It’s not like the Hawks are asking him to channel his inner Jaroslav Halak.  Just make the saves that need to be made.

With that all being said, Game 2 should be much different assuming the Hawks receive semi-competent goaltending.  In the first and third periods in Game 1, the Canucks defense was having all sorts of problems with the quicker Hawk forwards.  That trend will continue however long the series lasts.  

Hopefully, Luongo’s stellar play doesn’t.

A couple things to watch for the rest of this series: Apparently, Marian Hossa didn’t skate in warm-ups before Game 1.  Judging by how ineffective he was, that might not be the best idea for the rest of the series.  

The most important thing, for me, to see tomorrow is to make sure Patrick Sharp stays at center.  It will be very tempting for Joel Quenneville to move Sharp up with Kane and Toews but there simply isn’t enough depth at center to be yanking your 2nd best center all over the place.

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12 Responses to Chicken Little tells you that the sky is falling

  1. Muhr says:

    Blaming Niemi is easy and fun, yea, he was bad, but the inability of the offense to finish during the first period put them in the situation to begin with.

    For a couple of years we have seen ‘one goal’ become the marketing slogan of the team, but I don’t care if Roy was in net for the Hawks on Saturday. one goal from the offense just was not gonna do it.

  2. John says:

    Muhr, as a whole, we’ve never placed the blame at the foot of a goalie until last night. You can say the offense didn’t finish or there wasn’t intensity in the second period; at some point, though, a goalie has to be responsible for his actions. Luongo was good; Niemi wasn’t. That’s all I was really trying to say. I just find the routine of blaming a lack of intensity or lack of focus for a loss to be insulting. Their goalie let them down and they crumbled. What’s the harm in saying that?

  3. Jerry Kayne says:

    Adjustments yes, wholesale changes are what got the players messed up and missing assignments on the ice

  4. Adam says:

    John – interesting points but I don’t think Niemi can take the blame. Sure, he didn’t do himself any favors with the rebounds but the play around him on the first 3 goals was trash. Sopel inparticular. He could have skated behind his with 14 seconds left but he decided to throw the puck to no one, resulting in a shot, rebound, and goal that should never have happened.

    I think if 88 buries the open net chance, we see different results. That miss set the tone, hands down.

    Here’s to a total team effort tonight. The men of four feathers are due for a complete performance.

  5. AC says:

    Can we finally end the Bickell on the top line thing? He was his typical overmatched self, again, on Saturday. That line finally seemed to be clicking in the third when Brouwer was back in that spot. I know that Bickell will fight in the corner and give a maximum effort, but that is not enough. Get Brouwer going again and he will give you the same thing, but with more talent and not look as completely lost at times, especially in the defensive zone.

    Yeah, Sopel looked bad, but take him for what he is, a #5 or #6 defensive defenseman. He will not make the spectacular plays, but is willing to sacrifice himself for the team. I don’t like him, but I will respect what he gives for the team due to his lack of physical abilities. Don’t buy so much into the Trotz praise of him, but look to trade him to Nashville in the offseason. Otherwise, he will need to continue to give maximum effort in this series and stay away from the PP.

    Thank goodness this is a best of 7, the score starting tonight’s game is 0-0 and let’s see a rebound performance like we’ve become accustomed to. Go Hawks!

  6. Otter says:

    I guess the people not blaming Niemi were watching another game… that second goal was weak or soft or whatever you want to call it.

    Sure place some blame on Sopel on the first for poor positioning on the board battle and not getting the puck out of the zone (or at least that’s what I thought), but again, Niemi probably should have still made the save.

    The Hawks were clearly the ‘better’ team in the first, and after 19 minutes, I was thinking ‘either it’s a matter of time until the Hawks score or Luongo is going to have to steal one for the ‘Nucks’. Then the second goal went in with 10 seconds left…

  7. Ed says:

    Niemi did crap his pants. But I have to admit, I stopped really watching after the first five minutes. Even when the Hawks had the drive and the intensity, they still had trouble clearing their end cleanly and effectively. I knew is was going to be a bad game, because its a pattern I’ve seen the past 5 months or so.

    The inability of the Hawks to either: A) adapt to the forecheck or B) stop acting like asshats and clear the zone are the factors that have made these past five months torture for me.

    Back in December some coach (I think it was Trotz that said it, actually) said the Hawks were not an offensive team. They were a defensive team. And their offense was started by their solid defensive play.

    That isn’t happening anymore.

  8. John says:

    A 28-13-5 record from the last five months. Geez Ed, if this has been torture I would’ve hated to see what you thought about the 2004-2005 season.

  9. Ed says:

    Nothing really can compare to that season, unless you take it out of hockey and into a certain Chicago baseball team.

    Compared to the first half of the season, yeah it was a little torturous. And yes, I exaggerate with my adjectives. And 5 months is a little too long. Since a little before the Olympic break. So the past 2-3 months or so.

    But it all seriousness, it has been harrowing to see the Hawks seemingly become less and less responsible in their own zone over the course of the season.

  10. JimH says:

    Niemi is an easy target, but the Canucks had a bunch of great chances in the first that they didn’t convert as did the Hawks. Kane breakaway, Kane whiffing on a wide open net, Madden 2 on 1 where he had a clear shot from about 15 feet. That was all in the first period. You have to convert. It wasn’t great goaltending just poor shooting.

    The 2nd goal was bad (I think that’s the one where he gave up a rebound straight to the stick of a Nuck on the middle), but the turnovers by both the D and the forwards were just too much, too often. If I see another drop pass get picked off leading to a break I’m gonna vomit.

    The bigger problem was a lack of fire after that 3rd goal. It was 3-1 with the better part of 2 periods left and………nothing. No response. No sense of urgency. More turnovers and no physical play. It didn’t even seem like a playoff environment. Has the UC turned into more of a corporate crowd? I live in San Diego so I don’t know, but I’ve heard season ticket holders selling playoff tickets to pay for next season’s increased prices. I hope that’s not a trend.

  11. Lou says:

    @JimH it was never 3-1. It was 5-0 after two with the second and third goals scored 41 seconds apart.

    Yes, JWow is trying to attract the corporate world. But the 300 level is the lunch bucket crowd. And people are selling tickets its part of the game.

    @John don’t be insulted we just plain sucked on Saturday.

  12. Dale Halas says:

    Back in December some coach (I think it was Trotz) that said the Hawks were not an offensive team. They were a defensive team. And their offense was started by their solid defensive play.

    Thank you Ed. That is exactly it. When the hawks forget that they are a defensive team and go “hog wild” like they did in that first period, they lose those games. Every single one of them.

    This defense is build around the D Men and NOT the goalie. It’s time those D Men show up especially their top guy, Mr Keith…

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