It's funny. I went to the doctor today for the first time in years. Naturally, he informed me I needed to quit smoking. On nights like this, it seems the most ridiculous suggestion possible.
Ok. I think it's important on a night like this to try and separate what matters from a lot of the silliness we saw tonight, which delved into the ridiculous and unfathomable. Some of it felt like when the cast of Monty Python during their live shows would just run from offstage left to offstage right for no reason. Simple silliness for the sake of it. I mean, we definitely got into fun-bad territory there.
The thing is, I'm not angry. I know a lot of you are, and you have every right to be. But the whole thing felt like watching a toddler throw his pants over head and run dangerously close to the street (which is incidentally the defensive plan the Hawks employed tonight) -- you have to be angry at the parents who let him do so but can't help but produce a smile at the entertainment factor.
Do we know anything different? No, not really. The problems are still the same as they were after the Hawks put forth a fine performance in Vancouver.
Is our view of them different? Maybe. The main conclusion of all this, and it's not even a conclusion, is that the Hawks may be, repeat: may be, at end game with Corey Crawford. Quite simply, his dog-trying-to-grab-a-basketball act tonight cost the Hawks momentum and then the game. Taylor Hall's goal shouldn't have gone in. For the umpteenth time this year, when a player wraps around the net from the circles Crow lost his net, costing the equalizer. It only got worse.
There are only 30 games left. The string of games Crow would need to have confidence rebuilt might simply not be on offer now. Sassone was right, it felt like those games in Columbus in March of both '09 and '10 when Huet melted down and handed the job to Khabibulin and Niemi. Is the job handed to Emery now? The thing is, we know what Emery is. Or we think we do. Maybe it doesn't mean much, but if you take out the two Edmonton games and the Philadelphia loss when the team was basically a Gwar sound check, Emery's save-percentage is .921. So maybe?
Before we trade everyone, which will happen between now and the puck drop tomorrow in Calgary, the needs are still the same, and they're all jaded by the goaltending behind them. The second pairing still has question marks. Raging, pussing, bleeding question marks that require a balm, but question marks. But would that pairing look better with solid goaltending? It probably would. So would the penalty kill.
On a night like this, there's a tendency to call for major changes. It makes everyone feel better. But there are little options for the second pairing and goalie situation to be found.
To me, before it all became something out of Tim Burton's soiled toilet set ablaze, other than the goaltending the other serious issue are the special teams. They still are. The kill gave up Whitney's goal. But before that, the power play had a chance to take the lead and turn the tide. It didn't, for the same reasons it hasn't all year. Poor entry, whacked structure, predictable tactics.
Because of that, and some other things (like say, a second mauling at the hands of one of the worst teams in the West), some serious focus must be brought on the coaches. The power play hasn't changed other than for injury. The penalty kill still has faulty parts (though most of it goaltending). Yet John Scott gets ahead of Montador to kill some time? More importantly, this wasn't a team out to avenge anything. This team wasn't prepared to set things right from the last time they were here. Is that the leadership in the team, or behind the bench? I don't really know.
As ugly as it was, the status of the team is pretty much the same. One of the best in the West, but with holes that need addressing. They seem bigger now. I doubt the answer is a Kane for Ryan Miller trade, but I fully expect that to be suggested.
No one escapes blame, obviously. That tight structure we were encouraged by on Tuesday was hanging out where the buses don't run tonight. But I don't think that's what this team is. It's more than just a bad night, I can't dismiss it there. But it's not a season killer either.
There will be calls for blood. They would be justified. But I bet the response from those in charge is a deep breath, and a few more games on this trip before making any decisions. That's probably what it should be. It should probably be ours as well.
Maybe that all doesn't make sense. I wouldn't be surprised. My brain turned into goo like yours, I ran out of my beer and had to resort to the Hamm's that a buddy left here during a poker night a few weeks ago. I think this is the best I can do right now.