After last night's fairly pathetic display of a game, the Blackhawks are now 0-2-1 for the preseason so far. Now - this post is not going to be a call to panic or raise any big concerns. Far from it. No matter how bad a preseason gets, simply repeat the mantra "these games don't matter, these games don't matter..." If that doesn't work though and you still find yourself panicking some more, just remember this. The 2008 Detroit Lions were 4-0 in the preseason... before going 0-16 in one of the most pathetic and hilarious seasons of all time in any sport. Really, losing these games doesn't matter..
That's not to say that these games can't be a bit distressing though - it certainly would be nice to see the Hawks actually win a preseason game before hopping on the plane to fly out to Finland. So after the jump we'll look at some numbers, trends and others takes and try to figure out what the fuck is going on with this teamHere's some quick good news right off the bat - as of right now, the Blackhawks are not having the worst preseason. That would go to the Carolina Hurricanes who have lost both preseason games in regulation, meaning they don't even have the one point that the Blackhawks currently hold. A quick check over at Canes Country shows no signs of worry either... mostly because, again, these games don't matter.
Here's something else - other than the obvious (goals) there's no category where the Blackhawks have been seriously outplayed. They've only been outshot by only 5 overall, and never by more than 4 in a single game. They're winning more faceoffs than they're losing, though only by a very slim margin (91-87). It took a while but the power play finally started to click last night, converting on 2 of 6 attempts. Meanwhile, the penalty kill has been shutting down other teams 80% of the time, which is in line with last year's season total of 80.6%. Though last night's three power play goals against wasn't pretty.
So is it a problem with the goalies? Maybe. Each of the three main goalies have had a full game to make their case. And while Huet performed well (not great), the two men fighting for the back-job are failing under pressure in their two starts. Last night, Crawford was hung out to dry with 6 goals against and a .800 SV% (should that be the mendoza line for hockey?) while Niemi didn't do much better with 3 goals against and a .827 SV%. Clearly, these numbers will not be acceptable once the season starts, but again, that's what the preseason is here for. The goalies all still have time to work out the kinks... lets hope they do it
Things clearly aren't quite as simple as just checking the box scores though. For one, stats like this don't tell the full story in hockey. The Hawks could be taking plenty of shots from bad angles or they could simply be getting robbed by other team's goalies. Just the same, the defense could be giving up nearly impossible situations to block for the goalies. With only one game televised so far and none of the local papers doing in depth analysis of the game, it's too hard say.
Obviously though, the major problem right now this preseason is the fact that the injury bug is hitting the Hawks... hard. After last season where all the major players remained relatively injury-free (and the only player we wanted to get rid of needing basically season ending surgery) injuries were sure to be a bigger concern for this season. Didn't think they'd hit so early though. As Fifth Feather pointed out in a post today, it seems Jack Skille is the latest to go down this season. The good news is that Bolland could be back for tomorrow's game but at this point I may want to give him the extra rest just to be on the safe side. We've talked a lot about how deep the Hawks are at forward, especially wingers, but looks like we'll really get to test that this year.
So I know I didn't really answer any questions in this - but there really aren't any to be had just yet. Not only is it an incredibly small sample size, but it's all one big experiment at this point. How upset or worried can you be when Danny Bois has played 3 games and Duncan Keith has played only 1?
We're now just about one week til the big kickoff for the season - so we should see more of the regulars get more ice tomorrow and an improvement in the quality of play... and speaking of tomorrow's game. The season's first Committed Indian is going to be on sale before the game - if you're going, be sure to pick one up from all the usual spots. If you're not going - you can still buy them here. So no excuses.