First off, allow me to offer my apologies for this past weekend, as Matt and Matt have done. I was out of town enjoying my break, but due to a rather large snafu by my brother's landlords, I did not have access to a computer all weekend (as part of that snafu was drinking a bathtub of Yeungling while watching the Hawks, and if you think I'm going to apologize for that you are very much mistaken). Secondly, I'll apologize for rehashing a Sonic Youth reference we used last year in The Indian, but it's a damn good one and I'm going with it.
Right, to the game. I always had an itchy feeling about this one. With the big comeback win against Columbus and the hair-on-fire victory over Detroit preceding it, and the Blood Feud Double of Calgary and Vancouver following it, this always had the makings of a trap game. And that's exactly what it looked like. In fact, I struggle to remember a game this year where the Hawks were so second to every loose puck, and lost almost every battle. The Hawks were never above a C+ effort, and that's being kind. What they will have to realize is that they've been the NHL's best this year long enough where they're going to get most everyone's A+. So effort's like tonight's won't cut it. But on long road trips, these things happen, and I highly doubt it's a trend.
Things didn't start well when Keith and Seabrook got a little yippy with the puck (more on that later) which led to a nasty turnover. Huet came out to challenge Zach Smith (?) which we like to see, but was not able to move laterally when he skated around him, leaving Seabrook exposed to play goalie. The 1st period got worse when on a 2-on-2 Regin centered for Ryan Shannon (fuck that guy) who had a beautiful tip into the top corner. It looked bad, but Huet was up and the tip was immaculate, almost hitting crossbar and post at the same time. Hammer should have had his stick.
The Hawks began to perk up in the 2nd, ever so slightly. They outshot the Sens 12-6, and things looked to be heading back on track when Hossbollah was sprung on a breakaway and hit the "fuck it, I'm tired" button and just blew one by Brian Elliot. But all that momentum was lost when 51 Phantom threw a puck away, and then compounded that by getting completely undressed by Phillip Regin. Once again, Huet was unable to move to his right in anything resembling time (is there something wrong with his left leg?).
After that, the Sens packed it in in the 3rd, and the Hawks seemed barely interested in breaking them down. Once Hossa was stopped by Eliot on a save that owed everything to selling his soul to the devil, I think everyone knew it wasn't our night.
-Keith and Seabrook have been very dodgy in their own zone lately. I'm sure it's just a dip. As they say, form is temporary and class is permanent. But Keith's handling of the puck has been abstract, to be kind, and Seabrook has been caught flat-footed more than you can count on your fingers. As strange as it is to say about a player who is the second leading scorer amongst blue-liners, I don't trust Duncan's stick-handling. Most of his points have been garnered as the late man when he's in space, or from the blue line where it's just a shot. I also wonder if he isn't rushing his play in his own zone to more quickly attack, adding to that point total.
-Connected to that, I know there's been some fear of what the Hawks will do when faced with a trapping team, but lately they've had more trouble with teams that forecheck them as if their wives' lives were being threatened. There have been far too many turnovers in their own zone when under pressure, and almost every d-man is responsible. Keith doesn't seem to react well when closed upon two opponents. Seabrook is then in turn put in more desperate situations. Hammer can't skate his way out of trouble, and the less we say about Barker the better.
-I know Soupy was responsible for one goal against tonight, but other than Hossa he was the only one who looked like he could give a shit and was the only d-man I trusted under a forecheck. He created a few chances on the other end, as well.
-No wonder Stephan Auger is under scrutiny, as he refs as if he were being attacked by the Tasmania Devil.
-God I love when Konroyd fills in for Eddie O.
--Having only briefly glanced at the thread, it confirmed where I thought it was going. Huet wasn't good tonight, no question, but his defense left him completely out to dry. Not so long ago, he would bail them out of that, and he hasn't recently. It was the same act in Columbus, where Rick Nash was walking in alone seemingly every couple minutes. Huet's play will improve when the defense does as well, but probably not before. Make of that what you will. Most of you will probably still set your hair on fire.
-There was always going to be a bad loss on this trip, and tonight was it. Still, we said two of three East, and the West, and then a split of the San Jose-Carolina jaunt would be an acceptable haul, and they're still on pace for that. Forget it, and move on.