It's Baby Steps To The Elevator, Not Bumbling To It: Isles 4 - Hawks 4 (Hawks Win Flip Cup 1-0)

Not even sure we need bullets tonight, because the issues are right there for everyone to see.

Over the past couple weeks, there's been a mob's squeal about the defense, how bad it is, how it needs an upgrade, and everything in between. And while this won't be the first time I've made this point, it will be the most definitive and the first time in a while:

If the Hawks defense is so bad, when does anyone have to answer for the fact that the Hawks traded their best d-man from last year for absolutely, positively nothing?

I know where some of you will go with this. This is not an indictment of Nick Leddy. Leddy's offensive game is right where I most hoped it would be. He's doing his best in his own end, but there are obvious hurdles that a 20-year old in barely his second year (and with games played, it's still kind of his first), is going to have a hard time overcoming. Niklas Hjalmarsson, as much as I pound him, isn't really any worse than he was last year. The third pairing is better than it was at this point last season, in case you've forgotten what Nick Boynton, Jordan Hendry, and whatever other goof was manning it. Keith and Seabrook? Bad change tonight, still can't say their markedly worse than what we saw last year, and in Keith's case he's probably better.

What the Hawks are missing, at least on the defense it seems to me, is another player besides Keith who can skate them out of trouble. That's not Leddy, who's skating only looks really good when given the time to wind up. But how many times did Phantom corral a scramble in front or behind, make a quick shift to shake a forechecker, and send the Hawks the other way? And did these turnovers in the neutral zone happen as much when it was 51 deciding on the first pass, chip, dump-in, or take it himself? I'll let you decide.

I understand the Campbell trade really can't be judged until this supposed glorious cap space that Stan Bowman gathered like a genius is used on whatever he's going to use it for. But at the moment, Campbell was moved for simply nothing. You can't get past that. And while we're on it, the Panthers moved David Booth, who would have been an actual piece, for hot garbage. Mikael Samuelsson and Marco Sturm might have a knee and a half between them. Did Booth's name never come up instead of Olesz? I bet we never find out, because no one is ever going to fucking ask.

Ah, but we're not done. The defensive problems wouldn't look nearly as dripping with puss as they do if Corey Crawford weren't as wonky as anything Cristobal Huet or Marty Turco put up this last month. It pains me to say it, but he does. Those first two goals were unacceptable. One was a rebound that looked like the soft toss drill we did for batting practice on my high school baseball team. The second was a terrible angle that left a pretty agile scorer in Moulsen far too much space on the short side. Those two goals don't go in, the Hawks enter the 3rd with a 3-0 lead and I doubt they're debating whether trying to hold or kill the game off.

There's no question that the Hawks are structurally off right now, but that can be fixed. But these two questions are what's on my mind, and I feel like they're not on enough other people's.

That said, if the Hawks save the good performance for tomorrow in St. Louis and take that one, we'll all feel a lot better.

At least Scotty Hockey will talk to me again. I think.