I used that quote from Almost Famous (a movie I like less and less every time I see it, but that's another discussion) almost exactly a year ago in The Indian. It also came after a bad road loss in Columbus late in the year, and it also signaled the end of Cristobal Huet's chances of leading the Hawks into the playoffs. Most people wanted Khabibulin to get the nod, and he pretty much did after that night. Well Ray Davies, "Here we go round again..". I said I was rooting for Cris tonight, and I was. But I obviously can't sit here and defend him. Here's how it goes from here, most likely: Niemi will get the start Sunday, if for no other reason than to save Cris from the wrath of the UC faithful. They will split the back-to-back against St. Louis and Minnehaha, and unless something completely stupid, Niemi will get the rest of the games. And so my hopes of a first Cup in my lifetime will be pinned on a rookie goalie, which makes me anything but comfortable.
When I scoffed at the idea of acquiring Roloson or Biron or another journeyman, it was with the idea that Huet would regain form and be better than any of those. Sure, Vokoun was certainly an upgrade but I doubt the Hawks would have given up what it would have taken. Whether you think he's been mishandled or unlucky with sickness or not, it doesn't matter, Huet fluffed his lines tonight, and there is no road to recovery visible. I wish he hadn't, because there will come a point where Niemi has a bad period in the playoffs, or gets an injury, and Huet will be called upon. It would have been wonderful if he had anything resembling confidence when that moment comes.
However, if you think the only thing unacceptable tonight was the goaltending, you are sadly mistaken. The Hawks said all the right things about wanting the #1 seed, about not taking an opponent whose season is over lightly, about tightening up their game during this run-in. They then proceeded to put forth an effort that contained no urgency, effort, or intelligence. How many d-men got caught up ice on a rush? How many times did they run around in their own zone? Did they ever get anyone in front of the net? The power play was as bad as it's been, at least while the game still was a game. I could go on and on.
There's an issue I wanted to address right before the playoffs, and we'll get deeper into it then, but I do want to mention it. One issue besides the goalies and the power play that has me urpy about the playoffs is our coach, and specifically his impatience. Sometimes it's a good thing to quickly change something that isn't working. But sometimes... After the 1st, the Hawks were only down 2-0, and it was still very much a game. Keep in mind, the Hawks were just coming off the most solid game they've played in recent memory. Was one bad period really a call for Line-Jumble-Palooza? What kind of message does that send? And it clearly made things worse. Why was Versteeg moved off what has been your most consistent line for the past month? What did Troy Brouwer do to deserve to go to the 4th line?
We all remember Q's meltdown in Game 4 against Scum last year. While it probably wouldn't have made a difference in that series, that was most decidedly the wrong way to go. He's already played the hair-dryer card after the loss in Phoenix, you can't pull that card twice. Now what? Is it time for Toews to do it? Can he when he's been pretty unnoticeable since the Olympics? Does one of the other leaders? Madden? Sharp? Keith?
I can only hope tonight is a wakeup call. And now that the biggest question is settled, everyone can look in the mirror and wonder what they have to be better at before the playoffs start.
You count on me for trying to find a bright side, so here's my attempt. It was a year ago to the day almost that the Canucks and Canadiens stomped a mudhole in us. The Hawks when 6-0-1 the rest of the way. So there you go.
-We began to see the cracks of having Buff at D tonight. He was caught out of position a couple times, and pairing him with Hossa on the power play is suicide. Think harder, Homer.
-If Bolland wasn't going to play, why wasn't Sharp moved back to Hossa's center, when they clearly had chemistry in that set-up earlier in the year?
-The power play needs Johnsson back, and I get the feeling it's going to be a long while yet.
-Is Captain Marvel going to get the mojo back?
-Apropos of nothing: That McDonalds ad with the douchenozzle who won't let anyone talk to him until he's had his coffee - am I really supposed to believe that no one would have hit him in the face with a piece of heavy mining equipment? I sure would have.
in the words of Miranda Priestly, "That's all."