For most of the year, we Hawks fans have just had too much evidence on both sides of the optimistic and pessimistic debate about what this team was and what they could be. After last night, and reading some reactions to it, I feel myself being pulled in all sorts of directions. And I don't have any answers.
Last night's game is just one debate. There are some of us that had acquiesced to the notion that the Hawks has pushed all the chips to the center of the table based on the pocket rockets they were holding in Detroit, and they won that hand. A lot of us knew that the next hand was probably going to be one that the Hawks would have to fold early. Was the policy for the Detroit game the right one? I don't know. After Saturday's gut-punch by the Ducks, a win right behind it was probably required. But at the cost of sacrificing the next two points? Is that ideal? Was it the only choice? I honestly don't know.
Then there's the method. Watching the Hawks on Monday in the Joe, I saw a team that even with some injuries and Brian Campbell barely at 75% wouldn't be the first choice for most Western Conference teams as a playoff opponent. But having all the high end players break 25 minutes? Is that a system you can win with over a few weeks in mid-to-late April and beyond? I doubt it. But do the Hawks have a choice? I'm not sure they do.
We've heard a lot about the Hawks not showing a bunch of stomach for the fight. But is that the case? That game in Phoenix against the hottest team in the league at that point in a building that's hard to get anything out of? That showed some serious stones. Detroit? Same thing. But then there's last night, and the last game in Dallas, and a host of others. I don't know what the truth is. Do the Hawks themselves think they're up against it some nights and don't bring it? I don't know. Can we say that?
Then I worry that the Ducks showed the blueprint for beating the Hawks. Yes, it worked, I get it. And based on production the Getzlaf line bested the Toews line, and maybe that's all that matters. But on chances and possession? Toews's held his own. On another night would that have resulted in more production? I don't know.
Yes, the Hawks defense is small. Teams like the Ducks and Bruins can pound them. Sharks tried that too, they gave up five in a period. Maybe the Hawks d-men wilt. But against big teams, are they automatically fucked? They're even against the Ducks this year, even against the Flames. Even against the Canucks. 4-0 against the Kings, all of whom have a bevy of drooling forwards. Is it automatic that the Hawks can't deal with that? I don't know.
And all of this comes back to a discussion of depth, and what was lost, and we're all sick of that. More things I don't know what else was supposed to be jettisoned? Would keeping Steeger over Bolland made sense? Probably not. Letting Hammer walk and keeping Andrew Ladd? Sure, makes sense now with Hammer's dip in form, but did it then? Cater to the lower denominator and launch Brian Campbell, even if you could? How clueless have the Hawks been without him? There are too many combinations to ever get a hold of it.
And I don't know where I'm at with this team. I look at them and think they can beat anyone in a series, but they can also lose to anyone in a series. They need some good news on the health front, which they'll probably only half get. Should we all just prepare for a first round drubbing and be done with it? Or know that it only takes a couple of small breaks to know the Hawks can go farther than that? I don't know.
At times like this though, I turn to the patron saint: "I've worked too hard for my illusions just to throw them all away." That's the tack I think I'm taking.
-Also, don't forget to come join us at The Bottom Lounge for Friday's game (1375 W. Lake). These days, we could probably all use the support.