Ugh. This isn't the way anyone wanted to see the Hawks start this season off. The first two games have come and gone and this team now sits at 0-2 with a couple of performances that left everybody a little underwhelmed. Tonight saw another strong start in the 1st for the Hawks, scoring on the first shift of the game, but they ended up blowing a 2-0 lead and eventually falling 4-2 to the Capitals.
This game pretty much mirrored last night's loss in New York quite a bit. Another strong start, including a goal 26 seconds in from Kris Versteeg and a 2-0 lead, gave way to sloppy defensive play, the "prevent offense" as it's starting to be called where the Hawks lightened up the pressure on Washington, and another poor last 40 minutes in general after a strong opening 20. This team simply seemed to let up after jumping on the Capitals early, and Washington didn't hesitate to take advantage of that and eventually grab the victory.
I can't help but think Denis Savard has a hand in this team not keeping the foot on the pedal after getting off to good starts. It seems like he puts the "shell" into effect when they get the lead and more often than not a strategy like that is going to backfire on you. When the forecheck is aggressive, you keep that pressure on the other team and don't allow them to get back into it offensively. If you rest on your laurels, that's pretty much inviting your opponent to come back and take the win from you.
Not much positive you can take from this one. Brian Campbell didn't look too good covering Alexander Ovechkin (who potted two goals), Toews and Kane weren't able to create much energy, and overall things were, once again, sloppy. Matt Walker played 6:15 in his season debut on defense and looked awful. Where is Cam Barker again? I guess you could say Nikolai Khabibulin had a strong start in net, especially in the 3rd when he was pelted with shots and withstood the pressure until Brooks Laich put home a goal that had to be reviewed late in the 3rd before it was decided that it was a good goal. Unfortunately, the Hawks were almost able to come out with at least a point despite not playing a good game, but they weren't so lucky in the end.
This is a team that just looks a little unorganized right now and has played two games where they just weren't as sharp as you need to be in every facet of the game to win. They need to tie up the loose ends, and hopefully Savard can figure out that you need to stay aggressive on a team even after you grab an early lead. It's not going to be easy for them to go into the home opener on Monday against Nashville with an 0-2 record. A lot of pressure already to get that first win. Hopefully their game will be improved and they can get two points in front of a packed United Center.