This House Is Not A Home: Avalanche 4 - Hawks 0

According to my diary, which contains mostly overly detailed accounts of my all-time favorite meals, this is the third time (of 5 on the season) that I will be writing a wrap for a game in which the Hawks have been shutout. No need to feel sorry for me, but it's certainly a worthy excuse to skip the play by play, and get right to the depressing bullets.

  • "January 6th, 2012 - Dear Diary, Today I had some of the best pico de gallo that I've ever consumed, and you and I both know that this is not the first time that I've consumed an absurd amount of what is typically considered a fairly minor condiment, but in this particular instance, all I really needed was a spoon and a good IPA. Salsa Fresca at the George Street Pub......Who knew? On another note, the Hawks got shutout again, and Nick Leddy had a pretty brutal night with a -4. I think the last time Leddy was a -4 was the defensive debacle in Tampa. You remember, I took the kid to task with a belly full of beef brisket, well I'm back at it again. Actually, I think I'll copy and paste a portion of that wrap, and maybe just change the goal descriptions."
  • I think it's safe to say that this was one of Nick Leddy's worst games of the year. Obviously the four even strength goals against aren't all on the kid, but he did have a hand in each. Goal 1 - Leddy was unable to strip Galiardi of the puck as he entered the zone, which led to a point shot that was redirected by David Jones. Leddy decided that it'd be better to let Jones campout in front of Crow, as opposed to double screening his netminder. Was it the right call? I don't know, but it certainly wasn't the desired result. Goal 2 - Cover your eyes on this one if you've got a weak stomach. Varlamov made a great save off of a Colorado turnover, which got the play going the other way before the forwards could catch up. Leddy was left with three options: Stastny, Erik Johnson, or the puck; he chose "none of the above." Goal 3 - Leddy coasted to a dump in, and forgot about that whole opposing forecheck thingamajig as he turned the puck over on an attempted D to D pass. Goal 4 - Nick biffed on a neutral zone check, temporarily injuring himself and forcing him to skate slowly back to the bench. By the time the forwards got back on the mini 5 on 4, Hammer was already in his Ikea lawn chair, watching Kobasew tap home the night cap. It's always unfair to single out one player, especially a young Dman, but between last night and tonight, Leddy has been hair-pullingly bad. Olsen played 15 minutes tonight, might Q give him a game in the top 4 with Hammer or Dunc tomorrow? I'm not looking for Olsen to permanently replace Leddy in the top 4, but if one Sami Lepisto mistake gets him 4+ games off, then surely Nick Leddy could survive an evening on the third pairing, even if he is The Chosen One.
  • That certainly was efficient, now we can move on to other things. There is little doubt that, at one point in his broadcasting career, John Madden probably said "If you don't score, you can't win." Tonight's goose egg is not something I'm going to get too fired up about. I don't think this is one of those games that fit the generic and mindless descriptions, such as "flat," "stale," "no energy," etc. The Hawks did some things on the forecheck, and they had decent puck possession, but the puck movement wasn't great, and the quality chances were limited. A ton of credit goes to the Avalanche here. Not only are the Lanche hot in terms of wins, but they're hot in terms of goals allowed over the last 10 games (just 12 GAs in the last 10). Hawks not named Jimmy Hayes didn't get to the slot very often, and the Men of Four Feathers spent significant time along the walls/on the outside. Colorado seemed perfectly content to leave a Blackhawk, in possession of the puck behind the net, alone while keeping the slot double covered. I counted numerous instances in which Hawks players got possession behind the goal line, but were forced to work the puck back outside or back to the point.
  • In concert with the Avalanche defensive game plan, was the superb tending of Semyon Varlamov, who has been hard for opposing teams to solve in his last handful of starts. Varlamov's positioning and rebound control were very good, and he made great saves on quality chances from Stalberg (a nice save on a redirect in the 1st, and he got a piece of the breakaway try before the puck hit the post), and Sharp (great patience, on a nice short side move from Sharpy). The Hawks needed a dirty goal to get things going, but it just didn't happen thanks to Varly and the D.
  • I can't give the Avalanche all the credit for the Hawks not denting the twine. The Men of Four Feathers have had just two minutes of powerplay time in the last two games. Is this just tough luck, or is it something else? It's definitely a bit of bad luck, but fast, aggresive teams make their own luck (speaking of making one's own luck, am I the only person that thinks Jon Hamm would have made a better Harvey Dent/Two Face than Aaron Eckhart? But, I digress..) Tonight, the Hawks needed to go harder to the net in transition, and if and when they get back to doing that, they'll draw their fair share of holds, hooks. trips, interferences, etc. What they do with these drawn penalties (at home) is another issue entirely.
  • Everybody and their 3rd cousin once removed knows that Dave Bolland is struggling to produce points, not just right now, but this entire season. I'm not going to pen some long dissertation about what's happened to Bollie in the offensive zone this season, but I'd just like to point out a single play. When Bolland was placed on a line with Crazy 8's, who had some jump tonight by the way, he had an opportunity to go hard to the net after a Kane shot, but he settled for an apathetic fly-by. Kane came up the right side and fired a low shot on net, an admittedly rare type of Kane shot, and Varlamov wasn't sure if he had control or not. While there were a couple opposing Dmen in front of Bolland, he still could have crashed the net and tried to poke a potential loose puck in. It's tough for Bolland to engage in blue paint shenanigans when he's on a line with guys like Bickell and Frolik, who let it rip before bolland is even able to get across center ice, but this is Patrick Kane we're talking about here. I'm not meatheadedly asking for Dave Bolland to become Scott Hartnell, I'm just looking for him take advantage of the opportunity to skate with someone with a pulse.
  • It's tough for John Scott, who has his limitations offensively, to get ice time when the team is playing catch up, but still.....03:25? Even Brian Scalabrine would laugh at ticks like that. (send your bulls hate mail to DemBasketballDudesAreMessingUpDaHawksIce@hotmail.com)
  • I don't mean to go all Jesse Rogers on you guys with the rookie love, but if you have the game DVR'd, I'd like like to get into some minutiae. Fast forward to the second period, 9:10 left in the frame, when Q threw Hayes out there with Toews and Hoss for an offensive zone draw. Players "creating space" for their linemates can often sound like a cliche, or just generic praise that we throw at power forwards who we like, but occasionally, you can see it right in front of your face. Hayes used his big frame to occupy two Avalanche defenders as Toews brought the puck from behind the net to the right circle, and this gave not only the captain, but a charging Hossa, a ton of space to complete a backdoor play. Unfortunately, Daniel Winnik Hossa'd the Hoss, and saved an easy goal. It's just one simple play, but it's something that good power forwards do without getting penalized. Dat Hayz guy is big like Bufflin, I should get his sweata!
  • In case you where at the UC, or just missed the broadcast, you should know that the NHLPA voted down the league's realignment proposal for the 2012-2013 season. The division and conference configuration will remain the same for next season, until negotiations begin on the new CBA in 2013. Prepare yourself for articles about how Donald Fehr is 3 parts genius, 2 parts hardass, and 1 part killer of fans dreams of a realignment scenario that people love more than free porntube sites.
  • This is supposed to be points cushion accrual time, and losing 3 of their last 4 home games in regulation is not what we had in mind. The boys need to get back on track before the Ice Capades trip destroys all our lives; you know it, I know it, Vegetable Lasagna here knows it.......
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