One for the Yotes, 3-2 (OT)

We’ve waited this long for games that mean something no need to waste any time.

–If unforced errors were a stat kept as readily as face-offs, something tells me that would be a bigger story than the Hawks getting slayed in the face-off dot.  The Hawks inability to control the puck with no Coyotes pressure or just abhorrent decisions in the defensive zone were far more to blame for the loss than losing face-offs.

Off memory alone, I counted at least eight instances from the latter half of the first period and the second period where veteran players like Patrick Sharp, Marian Hossa, and Johnny Oduya coughed up the puck in dangerous areas with little to no pressure to allow Phoenix back into the game.  Hell, Niklas Hjalmarsson had five on one shift on Phoenix’s first goal.

He started it off by firing a blind cross-ice pass in his own zone that was easily intercepted by Ray Whitney and concluded with him taking the puck from Corey Crawford as he attempted to freeze it.  In between that, we were treated to three (THREE!!!) blind ring around the boards.  Had he just picked up his head and/or not panicked, he would have realized a) there was no Coyote breathing downing his neck and b) he could have just easily skated the puck out or at least skated it until he drew a Coyote or two in his direction to open easy passing lanes.

(As a quick aside, the next person to tell me how much potential Niklas Hjalmarsson has is getting locked into a closet with the United Center house band while they practice their greatest hits.  This is his fourth season now, he’s far surpassed the 200 NHL game threshold, he is who he is: An overpaid 5th/6th defensemen.)

The encouraging thing is guys like Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa are not known for having the yips for extended periods so whatever it was, it should be out of the Hawks system.  And hopefully so, because there is at least one shutout in this series for the Hawks if they’re defensively capable.

–The Hawks have had some decent success against Pekka Rinne by elevating pucks along with creating massive traffic jams in the crease.  Mike Smith is about the same size as Rinne and leaves even more room upstairs than Rinne.  Just about every puck that was above Smith’s shins last night gave him problems as opposed to those along the ice that he handled with relative ease.

Bryan Bickell and Dave Bolland had all sorts of room on nearly identical plays but were unable to lift puck allowing Smith to make fairly easy saves.

–The problem I have with the lost face-offs and assigning an inordinate amount of blame towards the Hawks loss is that only one face-off loss cost the Hawks the game.  If they had won 60% of their draws and still lost, no one would point to it and say, “See?!!?”

However, since a lost face-off led to Martin Hanzal’s eventual game-winner, it will probably lead to two days of stories about how the Hawks are going to improve their face-offs.  You know, instead of focusing on what also led to the goal, a Nick Leddy panicked icing (aka an unforced error) where a simple hoisting of the puck would have done the trick.

–Is there a more passive multiple 40 goal scorer than Marian Hossa?  Free Fifth Feather coffee mugs for the first person to explain why he passes up so many golden chances.

–Ultimately, this series is likely to hinge on Joel Quenneville finding the proper combination on his top two lines.  The Dave Bolland line was a tour de force and should continue to be.  The other two lines left quite a bit to be desired.  Sharp and the Swedes were out of sorts until the overtime.  Perhaps that had to do with Viktor Stalberg getting needlessly benched for long stretches of the second period, but alas.   Kane, Toews, and Hossa is just too much of the same thing, particularly if Hossa is going to continue to pass up shots in the slot.

Oh, and the fourth line needs a complete makeover.  That would also help things.

–It didn’t even take one shift for Andrew Shaw to annoy the piss out of the Coyotes.  For the rest of the series, he doesn’t really need to assert himself into any kind of post-whistle B.S. because the Coyotes are going to find him.  Going out of his way to start stuff is only going to lead to multiple trips to the penalty box.  He’d be better served trying to score goals because that’s what will really annoy the Coyotes even more.

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10 Responses to One for the Yotes, 3-2 (OT)

  1. Bobby Polish says:

    I also expect an onslaught of “The Hawks were outhit! They need to hit back!” conjecture from the fans. I hope the “Shoot!” crowd will be satisfied if the Hawks settle for merely outskating a less talented team. That should (read: hopefully will) be enough to win the series.

  2. JM says:

    I’m glad they’re playing the yotes. A better team would’ve handed it to the Hawks, with the terrible passing and unspeakably bad decision making in their own zone. That this was a 3-2 overtime loss says to me the Hawks still have the better odds this series if they play anything like they did in March.

    But, oh, that 2nd period.

  3. Otter says:

    Was that the worst hockey crowd ever to attend a game? Are you required to bang on the glass like it’s a 12th century English beheading if you go to a game in Arizona?

    That 2nd period was just brutal. The fact that the Hawks were that game at all last night I think says more about the ‘Yotes than the Hawks.

    I do think there are a lot of positives to take away from the game:
    -Crawford looked good save for a few times when he looked all out of sorts, but he looked like a guy who with a good defense in front of him will be just fine
    -The final power play opportunity looked like a PP that might score a few goals this series
    -Liked what I saw in the 1st and 3rd period over all
    -Seabrook and Keith looked really good
    -Sharp and the Swedes weren’t great, but I think they’re going to be a pain for the ‘Yotes going forward
    -Toews seems like he’s going to be fine. Right?

  4. rich says:

    I think I’m going to win the free FF coffe mug.

    I heard the song “Low Rider” by War – “The low rider drives a little slower.” I couldn;t help but picture Hossa behind the wheel, cruising the beaches in california – just emitting coolness in his white shoes, gold medallions and 400 dollar shades.

    What a great wrap though – passing was more than a little askew. Maybe a little rust after a 5 day lay-off – still 45 shots.

    Couldn’t agree more on the “Extremem Makeover” of our fourth line. That’s the kind of chemistry that causes shit to blow up.

    I loved the two rights Bickell labelled Hanzal with. Nice to see Bicks get pissed – a little of that Chicken hawk fire in the belly.

    I knew how bad Hjarmal’s screwed up on the first goal – but after reading your analysis, it was worse than it appeared.

  5. slaky311 says:

    Always a great read, thanks for recapping.

    Another commenter said as much but as a Hawks fan, I saw them play a terribly for almost half the game and still have a chance to steal. Phoenix might be down their top goal scorer. The Hawks can take this thing if even one of Sharp/Hossa shows up each night.

  6. Brian Donohue says:

    Thought the dumb icing was Kruger.

  7. JeromerINC says:

    Rich beat me to it. Hossbollah just radiates Euro-cool and toys with our emotions. When he does score, it’s so damn smooth that we beg for more and he teases us like the player he is.

  8. Francis Roberts says:

    Wow, totally agree with your analysis, John. Hjalmarsson was simply terrible, and it’s all a mental thing with him. He simply does not have any poise with the puck. O’Donnell should not be dressing in a playoff game at this stage in his career. I was surprised by how bad Sharp and Hossa were. Very atypical of both of them. Sharp was turning the puck over like a rookie. Despite all that, some positives. The Captain looked good, if a little rusty, and I actually think the power play is getting better, and will break out over the next game or two. I would throw Hayes and Frolik out on the 4th line as a change of pace next game.

  9. redfro says:

    Two responses to posts above:

    “I also expect an onslaught of “The Hawks were outhit!” Yes, and this all starts with our beloved meatheads in the broadcast booth, who studiously avoid any cognitive dissonance by not understanding how useless this stat is to the final outcome of a game. Foley’s obsession with this arcana in particular has become irksome over the past few years.

    “Are you required to bang on the glass like it’s a 12th century English beheading if you go to a game in Arizona? ” If you’ve seen the last two games in Vancouver, their supposedly more refined fanbase was doing it from the opening faceoff until the games were done and over with – you’d expect this in the southwest or south of the Mason Dixon line, but idiocy remains universal.

    Oh, and while Hjarlmarsson was beyond awful, I don’t think we can let the rest of his teammates on the ice during that goal off scott – free, either. Allowing the puck to stay in your own end for almost two minutes is an indictment of the team itself.

  10. Jim says:

    This looks like the year of the goalie and clogging defenses.

    Look at the wins by LA Kings and the Preds. They put up about 25 shots, give up about 45 shots, and rely on their world class goalies. Then wait for the opponent’s bad clearing attempt, a power play or an odd man rush to score. Phoenix is trying to do the same thing.

    Looks like the way around it is to crowd the crease, create mayhem around the net and pick up the loose change. Plus you need good goaltending on your own side also.

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