Yes, it has indeed been a week already since we've done one of these. And what a difference a week makes. This should be a fun one, shouldn't it? I hope I don't exhaust anyone.
The Dizzying Highs
Coach Q's Line Slot Machine - Ordinarily, this might fall into the Creamy Middles section, but for the last few days, we've seen probably about 938 different forward combinations, and that's a low-end estimate. Patrick Sharp was even taking shifts with Rusty Olesz and Marcus Kruger at the end of yesterday's goat fuck in St. Louis. Word out of practice today is that we'll see Toews and Hossa on the de facto top line, the Patricks on the second, and the original third line of 29-36-67, assuming Dave Bolland can go tomorrow in Columbus, while Andrew Brunette now finds himself on the fourth line, where no one is sure what exactly is going to be accomplished. At least some of this makes sense, but if the results aren't immediate against a miserable Jackets squad, I'm sure Joel will look like a 95 year old slot jockey at a Peoria riverboat digging for any loose change for one last pull of the lever to see if things come up 7's.
Whiskey and Cigarette Sales - These will be directly correlative to back to back embarassing losses to Vancouver and St. Louis under any circumstance, but the manner in which they transpired earned them a place here this week. John Scott in the lineup and the special teams woes only increase the profit margins of these vices, and the power play is enough to make a man step outside for some fresh air not out of superstition, but of frustration. Because nothing ever happens on the power play, right Chief?
The Terrifying Lows
The Special Teams - And we do mean "special" in that way this time. It really is an interesting contrast between the two units, with it taking now 15 games for the Hawk power play to slowly back into dead last in the league with an 8.8% conversion rate. At the opposite end of things, it only took one game of giving up 5 goals on 6 opportunities to the Canucks to drop the Hawks from an 89.4% kill rate to a paltry 78.3%, good for 21st in the league. Applying some highly advanced math, that puts the special teams total to just 87.1, with the old adage being that a total of 100 or greater being indicative of functional special teams. Both units need their heads extracted from their asses, and fast.
Joel Quenneville - Aside from some of these ridiculous line combinations, Q got absolutely pantsed by Ken Hitchcock in his first game back behind a bench. Hitch is even more matchy-uppy than Q so even dressing John Scott on the road was pure folly, but allowing him to be out there long enough for Hitch to get his first line out to predictably pants Scott on their way to their first goal of the night earns Q this ignominy. And if there's one thing everyone knows, it's that you can't give a Ken Hitchcock team a lead, even one that's only had 2 days of practice with him apparently.
And as if that weren't enough. dressing Scott always hamstrings the bench, especially in tight games, forcing other skaters to shoulder an undue load of minutes. With 4 games in 6 nights, the hope was that Q would have learned that by now. Apparently he hasn't.
The Creamy Middles
Corey Crawford - With not a lot positive happening in the last week, this is about the highest compliment we can give any one player. Though the goals in St. Louis are all likely ones Crow would like to have back, he never had a chance against the Nucks, and he flat out won the game for the Hawks in Florida with 41 saves in 65 minutes, and 3 in the shootout. So I suppose that all evens out, right? Ok, not really. But it's all we've got until the Hawks break out of this funk.
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