Dan Carcillo's night started off well enough; he fought through a check in the neutral zone and slid a pass over to Captain Serious, who got a little help from an Oiler skate on his 22nd goal of the year. Unfortunately, Carcillo may have done more harm than good in his six and a half minutes of ice time. Carcillo's major boarding penalty in the 2nd frame lead to two Edmonton goals: Smyth found the back of the net after a goal mouth scramble, and Hall put the exclamation point on the 5 minute powerplay with a five hole tally from the right side. The Hawks answered back quickly, as Bruno redirected a Hammer shot on the next shift following Car Bomb's penalty, and we thought that the Men of Four Feathers might survive the change in momentum after Edmonton took the lead.
Sloppy play eventually caught up with the Hawks on Sutton's goal, and Eager added a much needed insurance tally for the Oil, midway through the third. Despite outshooting the Oilers 23 to 6 in the final frame, Jimmy Hayes' first NHL goal, and 6 minutes of powerplay time in the third, the Hawks suffered their 4th regulation loss of the season on UC ice.
- On most nights, a team that scores 3 even strength goals should win the game, but that wasn't the case this evening. Here are a few of the primary reasons why the Hawks lost this game:
1A) Special teams - Another home 0-fer on the man advantage. The Hawks had 5 chances on the powerplay tonight, and they came up empty handed once again. The Hawks are just 1 for their last 22 on the powerplay, and the mistakes that we're seeing are completely unacceptable for a team with this much talent. Everyone knows that zone entry is a struggle on many nights, but that doesn't mean that it shouldn't be reiterated. Bruno, Kane, and Bolland (and probably others that I missed), all had brutal turnovers at the blueline which allowed for easy clearing plays by the Oil. It's not just the zone entry though, Duncs missed the net badly when he had plenty of time and space at one point, and the forwards on the powerplay units just don't work hard enough all the time. The PK didn't do the Hawks any favors by allowing 2 Oiler goals on Carcillo's major penalty, and you always get the feeling that you're in for it when the opposing team scores just seconds into a five minute powerplay.
1B) Dan Carcillo - It's quite a feat to have more penalty minutes than minutes played, especially when there are no fighting majors involved. Carcillo's hooking penalty was a bit weak, but few will dispute the stupidity of the brutal boarding penalty that he took in the second. If you haven't already, I'm sure that you'll see the penalty again, and when you do, you'll probably be embarrassed that the hit was made by someone wearing the Indianhead. The penalty was not born of desperation for a goal, at that point the game was 1-0 hawks, and it wasn't a penalty that can be excused by the speed and short decision making windows of the game. Car Bomb had plenty of time to think about what he was doing in that situation, and he still lined Gilbert up and drove him face first into the boards. Like I said before, it wasn't a split second reaction, it wasn't done in an attempt to score an equalizing goal late in the third period, it was just a dumb selfish play by a guy that occasionally makes dumb selfish plays. The penalty changed the course of the game, and I can honestly say that I don't really care how many games Carcillo misses for this one.
1C) Corey Crawford - Crow couldn't control the shot on the first goal, and was unable to cover up the rebound once he'd already coughed it up. The Hall goal is one that Crow would probably like to have back, and Eager's tally was just plain soft. In addition to the 4 goals allowed, Crow got lucky on a handful of other quality chances in which he over-slid the play.
- Despite him being pointless with a -1 on the night, I thought Patrick Sharp had a really strong game, and he was easily that Hawks best forward in the first period. Sharpy had his legs tonight, which was evident on several plays in which he exploded through the neutral zone to create a quality chance. On the down side, Carcillo wasn't the only Hawk with a selfish penalty tonight. Sharp's cross check at the end of the 2nd was a bad penalty in it's own right.
- Fro missed the last 10 minutes of the game (11:34 TOI), and Lepisto missed the last 15 minutes of the game (5:22 TOI). I think I might have missed an injury announcement on one or both of these two. With that said, Lepisto in particular, didn't have a very strong game. Sami wasn't OD-bad, but he did have a couple of turnovers early on, and I'm sure that he didn't give Q much of a reason to stop hating him.
- For a guy whose hockey sense is supposed to be a strong point of his game, Dave Bolland occasionally makes some questionable decisions when he has plenty of time to make the smart play. Bolland iced the puck early in tonight's contest when there wasn't much of a hurry to clear the zone, and he had a bad turnover his backhand when, once again, time and space was not the issue. Another example of this would be Bolland's patented wheel-and-fire-slappers when trying to clear the zone on the PK (didn't occur tonight though). This certainly isn't an epidemic, but it's something that I've noticed more this year than in years past.
- I already mentioned the issues with the powerplay, but I think a few personnel changes might be in order on the man advantage. The 1st unit comprised of Kane, Toews, and Hossa might need to be reworked. DDN + Hoss is obviously capable of jaw dropping puck movement, but it often forces Kane away from the right wing half wall, which is where he needs to be. This unit needs a clearly defined net presence role, and the second unit needs a more dangerous shooter; a Bruno for Hoss swap seems like it addresses both needs.
- Did the Hawks get a raw deal with the non high sticking call on Taylor Hall right before he beat Crow for the 2nd goal of the game? Yes. Did Hammer cost his team by staying down too long trying to sell the call? Only he knows for sure.
- The Hawks blocked a ton of shots tonight, 16 to be exact, more of this please.
- The Hawks were the best team in the NHL in the month of December, so they're probably due to lose a game here or there. With that being said, losing winnable home games might not immediately impact their position in the standings, but it could come back to haunt them once the schedule gets tougher starting next month.
- Things don't get any easier for the Hawks on Thursday. Going to Philly to face a pissed off (and probably less distracted) Flyers team will be a tough challenge for the boys.