Ok, before I try and put out any fires let's have a do-it-yourself wrap from the beaters and the unwashed. Just blather something to yourself using the adjectives "flat, "no energy", "pussies", "hustle-less". Throw in some hysteria about missing the playoffs, refer to Patrick Kane being soft, dream about having the Blues as a team to root for, and you'll be there.
Ok, let's try and deal in some matter of logic and reason if we can. I know it sucks losing to St. Louis. But there's a reason that depending on Vancouver's result the Blues could end the night in the lead for the President's Trophy. They're a good team, which we've always suspected they would be once they actually got a coach with a light on upstairs, firing on absolutely every cylinder right now (not really connected but both McClure and I have talked about the idea that if the Kings had woken up and smelled the Irish coffee in October and hired Hitchcock themselves, they could very well be where the Blues are now). They have a ridiculous home record and are oozing confidence. That doesn't make them some unstoppable force that can plan the parade now. Talk to a Blues fan with a firing neuron -- they're out there but you really have to search -- and they'll tell you about concerns as big as the ones we have about the Hawks, namely scoring. But right now, they're impressive.
Quite simply, I'm not offended as some are about tonight. It was all the problems I worried about before the game, i.e. the special teams and the control of the puck. Sure, you could throw in a complaint about the ice surface but the Hawks play on a dogshit one here at the U.C. so that really shouldn't come as a shock.
Biggest reason for the loss is once again the power play, which once again the coach's just don't have an answer for. While those that cover the team nearly pulled both hamstrings in a rush to sing its praises because it, shudder, scored in consecutive games, that doesn't mean we all saw a unit that had undergone any changes. Maybe I'm wrong, but both PP goals in Ottawa and Detroit came off won faceoffs and didn't require the Hawks to try an entry and set up, which are two terms they look at right now as if it was the last line on an eye chart.
The Hawks have to pick one between trying to carry it in and a hard-around the boards and going to get it. Seeing as how every team they face is stacking all four killers at the line, the choice would seem rather simple. What they can't do is this hybrid that has ended in some hockey version of an Octo-parrot that needs to be killed before the affront to nature continues any longer. On what level of hockey would you be taught to gain the blue line and then two feet in ring it around the boards when your teammates are standing still?
I'd like them to solve that first, then I'll worry about the lack of movement once set up. I don't want to overburden a hall of fame coach or anything.
Ok, the other two things which I think are related. In my nightmares, I don't show up to school naked or realize that I've forgotten to attend a class all semester or am falling off a cliff or whatever other ones everyone has. I watch the Hawks try and get out of the zone solely along the boards, which either results in turnovers or just chips out that give the puck back to the other team.
I've been stressing this for a while now, but instead of having at least two forwards doing the Humpty Hump out by the red line, perhaps one should be back in the zone to be available for a simple, 5-foot pass to the middle of the zone that A) gets the Hawks out, B) has them hitting the neutral zone with speed and C) keeps the Hawks in possession. It's what the Wings and Canucks have been doing. Why try so hard for a 120-foot pass that the Blues are specifically designed to stop?
All of these things were on display tonight. The Hawks PP had multiple chances to establish the Hawks into the game and didn't. The Hawks on the breakout tried to plow through exactly where the Blues were planted and usually failed. When they did get out, they didn't show the patience they did last time these two played by just getting the puck deep repeatedly and at worst requiring the Blues to go 200 feet, which they're not really built for.
Games against St. Louis will look boring or "flat'. They can make you play their game. The Hawks can't make teams play theirs, and that's always been the case. You give up special teams goals on both units and generate nothing of your own, you'll lose by multiple, pretty simple stuff.
Are these problems you should be worried about going forward? Absolutely. Are they fixable? i still think they are. I just wonder if Barry Smith can fix them all.
Anyway, 2-1 on this trip without the Captain is fine. It's not great, it's not going to make you dream, but it's fine. You want to lose your mud, let's see how this homestand goes. If it goes balls-up, you probably can then.
You know, this got a little long for bullets. If it's all right with the boys, I'll do those tomorrow.