Coyotes 2, Blackhawks 1

Hockey can be a very cruel game but you can’t say it doesn’t have a sense of humor.

Three days after the Hawks dropped a 2-1 game that saw them surrender two goals in a span of 14 seconds, the Hawks lost again 2-1 this time giving up a pair of goals in 35 seconds.  The Hawks were the far superior team on Wednesday night, only losing control of the game for brief stretches. 

The biggest sins of the night were the usual suspects: Duncan Keith and a team-wide inability to get glorious opportunities on net.  Keith was on the ice for both goals with the second goal being his sole fault.  As Patrick Kane gained the blue line and looked for the trailing defenseman, Keith let the pass go right past him.  To make matters worse, he let Eric Belanger go right around him enroute to his 2-on-1 goal.  Mike Haviland gave him two more shifts in the second period and after making a couple more bone-headed plays, Keith found himself on the bench for the final seven minutes of the period.

The other problem for the Hawks was their inability to get clean shots towards Jason LaBarbera.  Countless times, the Hawks had great opportunities only to hang on to the puck a split second too long and the shot was blocked by a Coyote before it even got to the net.  Jonathan Toews, Brian Campbell, and Patrick Sharp each had more than a couple shots that were blocked. 

And that was that. 

Thoughts

–This loss wasn’t due to lack of effort or lack of brains or really lack of anything.  The Hawks were simply unlucky.  Unfortunately, this loss is wrapped around a season’s worth of bad losses so naturally the Hawks must have been bad.  They weren’t.  They played good enough to win for sure.  Every player had a ton of jump in their game.  Stuff like this happens. 

–Anyone with internet access or who has even briefly followed the career of Jack Skille knows he’s not a finisher.  Last year with Rockford, he led the team in shots by a wide margin (like the next closest guy was 100 shots behind him type of wide margin) and only cracked 23 goals.  That said, this is just getting absurd now.  Skille had another three great chances to score tonight and couldn’t find the back of the net.  His best chance came in the third when he received a glorious dish from Jake Dowell and buried the puck….right into LaBarbera’s pads.

–Brian Campbell was just outstanding tonight.  Save for a moment early in the third when Duncan Keith hung him out to dry and Campbell lost an edge as Lee Stempniak went right around him, he was the best Hawk defensemen.  He missed maybe one chance at keeping the puck inside the Coyote zone.  Other than that, he never missed a chance at pinning them in their end.  He was moving the puck terifficly from the back.  Really, just an awesome game by him.  If he could bottle that up for 82 games, he’d be a legitimate Norris Trophy candidate. 

–I would’ve probably liked to have seen Duncan Keith benched a little longer but hopefully the point was made.  As I said after Sunday night’s game, he’s certainly not worthy of getting 30 minutes of ice.  The only way to make him understand that he’s playing like a buffoon is to sit his ass on the bench and not keep throwing him out there to make mistake after mistake.  Tonight was a step in the right direction.  And see, the Hawks didn’t lose by 6 goals because Keith didn’t play 30 minutes.  Other guys can play just as well, if not better than him for those extra 10 minutes a night.

For my money, this is the biggest thing in getting the Hawks on track.  If you go back through the last three regular seasons, the Hawks have struggled the most when Keith has been off his game. 

In the 2008-2009 season, Keith got concussed by Drew Stafford, missed a considerable amount of games where the Hawks were .500 for that stretch, and then came back at less than 100% and the team suffered along with him.

Last year when he returned from the Olympics, he was sub-par and the Hawks once again followed his lead going through their absymal March which saw many a Hawk fan jump off the Wacker Street Bridge.

And this season, well, we don’t need a refresher course on that, do we? 

He starts playing better and the Hawks will start to as well.  I hate to say it’s that simple, but it actually just might be.

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19 Responses to Coyotes 2, Blackhawks 1

  1. Petshopgirl says:

    Unluckly sums this game up perfectly. I knew it was lost the second I saw them come out wearing those cursed Wrigley Field billy goat uniforms.

  2. Francis Roberts says:

    Good Post, John. I think you are spot on: Keith was just brutal last night, especially in the second period. It was not an issue of too much ice time, just bad decision making. It’s a shame because for large stretches last night the Hawks dominated. Also agree with your point on shots on goal. As Pat and Eddie pointed out, LaBarbera was giving up a ton of juicy rebounds, so this was a game where you needed to get shots on goal and then crash the net for rebounds. I also thought Hoss looked tentative out there. He does not look 100% yet.

  3. Otter says:

    Agreed with everything, the boos at the end of the game were unfair. Hawks played hard, controlled the game, didn’t get any lucky bounces, and didn’t get enough clean shots on net. It happens.

    That said… seems like the Hawks haven’t scored all year off a rebound or am I off here?

  4. Lou says:

    I too was there. The boos are frustration and stupidity. We have a moron in our section that I would like to launch. The king propagator of ignorant fans a complete Asshat as Big Tony would say.

    What is bothersome is nothing is happening to get the crowd into it and sustained in it. A hit, a break away, whatever. Nothing. Lots of stick handling. No energy guys. The crazy Eager and Burish Energy is lacking.

    What I just don’t understand is why we continue to carry 8 d-men and dress a real 4 line team. Maybe this is saving $ so we can bring up Beach and his lunatic fringe energy up. We need some spark from someone.

    Hopefully we are learning from these expereinces.

  5. Marts says:

    That loss fcukin sucked.

    The fact we played our best period (the 1st) in about 10 games (I’m guessing here, it’s been a while) and only led 1-0 kind of had me feeling the kiss of death was coming.

    The Drunk Buffalo (Pisani) is shaking the cobwebs and has been pretty good the last 5 or 6 games. Not dangerously good, but reliable. He’s winning a few draws too…

  6. John says:

    When the Hawks were bad the past couple years, this place would light up with people decrying their lack of hitting and energy. I think they’re just about the same as they have been in the past. Skille and Brouwer provide a decent spark when necessary. Let’s not forget Burish and Eager were pretty much afterthoughts last year as they both missed a ton of time due to injuries and weren’t nearly as effective once they did return.

    The Drunk Buffalo has indeed started to play better. It’s amazing how less out of place he looks when he’s not playing with skill guys.

  7. Lou says:

    John, I hear you but this is just feels different. In years past, I always felt we were in a game and could come back. This has a different vibe. The last few games has had a BOHICA feeling.

    I don’t see the same jump over the boards and go bang. Burish and Eager weren’t the same but they brought some zip here and there. I really think the Ladd loss is the one we are feeling the most.

    And yes the Drunken Buffalo is playing better.

  8. Bob says:

    You seem to be the only local reporter who has noticed how poorly Duncan Keith has been playing. Terrible passing, bad in every respect in his own zone, turnovers everywhere, won’t battle on the boards and desperately avoids physical contact. It’s been very noticeable since the Olympics. I trace it to his comfortable new contract.

  9. John says:

    If only I were a local reporter….

  10. Ray says:

    It’s amazing how the media gives Duncan Keith a pass for his poor play. Up here in Canada they would kill Mike Green and Dion Phaneuf if they saw them playing like he has.

  11. John says:

    Welcome to Chicago.

  12. Lou says:

    Said in your beat Sean Connery from the Untouchables

  13. Marts says:

    Agreed Ray… Keith would be getting shredded up here if he played for one of the Northern 6 (I’m aware that, technically, St.Paul is north of Toronto…).

    Skille may not have any finish but as long as he keeps dropping his shoulder and cutting to the next 2-3 times a game like a wrecking ball I’m ok with him (kind of reminds me of Glen Anderson – only about 50 goals less finish). Lets not discount the unsettling nature that gives opposing defensemen and goalies. In theory it “should” open up opportunities for more skilled guys to drop their shoulder and cut to the net. May also bring the goalies further off of the short-side post.

  14. Marts says:

    Sorry… should read “net” not “next”.

  15. Otter says:

    In Keith’s defense, he hasn’t been Mike Green against the Habs bad. Green’s gotta be the most overrated player in the NHL, imo.

  16. Ban says:

    The boos are deserved. When the team plays like they give a shit, then they should stop. Until then, keep them coming. Why anyone would be satisfied with an effort like Wednesday night (when they only really tried for the last 3 minutes) is beyond me.

    I guess I expect a bit more from the defending Stanley Cup champs.

  17. John says:

    Isn’t it ironic how Campbell actually seems like the more responsible D-man than Keith right now?

  18. Marts says:

    It is ironic. As far as TV will let you see, positionally he’s been really good. He’s definitely running on a case of right-time-itis. I’m just glad he didn’t blow out his knee (or re-injure it) when he caught that edge allowing Stempniak to fly past him. While watching the game that was my larger immediate worry than the scoring opportunity itself.

  19. JimH says:

    You are what your record says you are (as Bill Parcells used to say) and the Hawks are effectively 2nd to last in their conference with two losses to the team behind them. This team has been awful and it’s not the new guys and it’s not the goaltending. Toews, Kane, Keith, Sharp, Bolland and Brouwer have been average to dreadful for the majority of their shifts. They have all regressed as players this season. Sharp’s early success had a lot to do with being the beneficiary of wide open opportunities that Burish could have cashed in. His defensive play has been just awful – nearly gave up a goal on the first shift last night when he completely coasted into the defensive zone and his man beat him by 20 feet. There is no forechecking and no backchecking by the forwards with the exception of some of the new, motivated players.

    This is what happens when young players taste too much success early on. These guys didn’t put in the work during the off-season and it is showing.
    Stallberg and Skille are busting their butts on every shift, but the so-called leaders are coasting. I thought Toews had more pride than that. Hockey is about effort as much as it is about skill. You cut corners consistently and you are going to lose a lot of 1 goal games to teams that might not have the talent but put forth the effort.

    The overall team passing is as bad as it’s been since before Kane/Toews were drafted. Pucks are at player’s feet or behind them. Stretch passes are nowhere to be found. Defensemen (Keith) are taking stupid chances or just panicking and giving the puck right back to the opponent. Ugh! Other than that this is a real fun team to watch.

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