No puns or wittiness in the headline tonight. The Chicago Blackhawks have a problem. Well, they have multiple problems. After an extremely unimpressive win (albeit a game that did result in two points), in which they ceded over 40 shots to a low quality Carolina Hurricanes team, you'd imagine they'd come out with a bit more of an inspired performance against the reeling Philadelphia Flyers. Yet, the Hawks came out and turned in what was perhaps their most uninspired performance of the season.
Of course, a lion's share of the blame there should go to the coach. Say what you want about two Stanley Cups and whatever the standard arguments in favor of Joel Quenneville are, the lineup that he iced on Wednesday night was unacceptable. The Hawks' coach sat Teuvo Teravainen and Bryan Bickell in favor of Dan Carcillo and Andrew Desjardins. What exactly he had hoped to achieve by such nonsense is completely unclear, but the Hawks turned in exactly the type of performance that would've been expected with such a lineup.
The Flyers got on the board in the first period on a Wayne Simmonds goal that was the direct result of the 48th turnover that the Hawks committed in their own end in the first 12+ minutes of the opening frame. They couldn't keep the puck on their respective sticks, and the Flyers were able to find a multitude of chances as a result. While they only held a slight edge in shots and Corsi, it certainly felt like they skated circles around the Blackhawks, mostly because of the turnovers.
In the second period, they went on to add a couple more. Ryan White scored on a deflection that Corey Crawford had zero chance on, while Claude Giroux added his first even strength home goal in like...seven years.
The Hawks were able to get on the board early in the third period, with Andrew Shaw deflecting a Duncan Keith shot on the power play. Unfortunately, that would be all the offense of the night for the road team. Unless you count the offensive lineup iced by Joel Quenneville.
Dan Carcillo decided to drop the gloves a couple minutes later, in a typically futile bout. Michael Raffl iced this one with a goal in the waning minutes of the third. The Hawks did show some signs of life throughout the third, but were ultimately unable to challenge Steve Mason too much, and never found a sustained offensive attack.
Let's talk about some things:
- Michal Rozsival is somehow getting worse. Duncan Keith is a top tier defenseman and you're doing him no favors by skating him with someone who is a lesser athlete at this point than Walter Donovan when he chose...poorly at the end of The Last Crusade. He starts 2/3 of his shifts in the offensive zone and still barely manages a positive CF%.
- I spent a lot of time defending Kris Versteeg over the summer, and he made me look brilliant early on in the season. He's reverted back to last season's level of play, only with more laziness.
- Jonathan Toews is losing board battles and failing to live up to the type of two-way play we've come to expect from him. There's been a ton of chatter on the Twittersphere about something not being quite right with the Captain. I'm having a hard time disagreeing.
- Corey Crawford is still good. What's the score of this game if he's not there to keep the Hawks around?
- Daniel Carcillo's fight itself was more futile than his presence in the lineup.
- Andrew Shaw still isn't very good.
- The fact that Joel Quenneville is somehow immune to criticism because he won a pair of Stanley Cups with two loaded teams is absurd. Yes, 750 wins speak for themselves to an extent, but when you're throwing guys like Carcillo and Desjardins in the lineup over Teuvo or Bickell when your team is already struggling to find offense, how does one avoid criticism?