Our Coach Might Not Know How To Watch A Hockey Game
Right, as promised, the bullets from last night:
-I have grown to accept the fact that those who cover the team and a large swath of those who read them will always pick the first exit on the analysis highway and settle for talking about "effort" or "intensity" or a team "being flat". I suppose that's why we exist and why you read us, because you've moved on from that and want more.
It's another thing when your coach bitches about such things. After last night's loss, Q blamed the power play's inability to...well, ability on a lack of intensity and effort. I get it, Marian Hossa had a bad game (and I would put good money on the Rangers paying for it). But to blame the unit's complete incompetence on effort? You could only do that if you know exactly what they're trying to accomplish, and right now neither the coaches or players not only have no idea what they're trying to accomplish, they have no idea on what they're trying to not accomplish.
Effort would be a problem if the Hawks were consistently just chipping the puck in and not retrieving it. I counted last night, they tried it twice, and both of those times the other four guys were standing still at the blue line. Effort would be a problem if the Hawks were supposed to move a lot when established, but the whole year the only movement the Hawks have tried is Sharp moving from point to goal line, which has only succeeded in having four guys below the puck when the inevitable shot from the point gets blocked because no opponent has had to move. What does Quenneville want, for everyone to stand stiller?
Is it recovery? Again, a system that has no movement or plan and results in four guys watching shots get blocked is going to have a hard time recovering. Quenneville bitching about the effort instead of system is like trying to fix his burned burgers next time by just putting more lighter fluid on the grill. That's how a man does it!
His only dice roll on Friday will be to change personnel again, which hasn't worked. But he should, because right now your second unit forwards are Brunette, Kruger, and Bickell, who all ostensibly want to do the same thing. Only Kruger has any playmaking abilities from the wall, and we don't even really know that.
And if Q really believes the only problems on the power play are effort and want-to, then he's even more out of answers than I thought.
-When Duncan Keith had his Norris year, his game was still high-risk. It involved all of the tight turns and pivots in his own end and corner that we see now, it's just that they all worked. I don't know whether the legs have been sapped just enough that they're not as tight and quick as they used to be, or the league just knows they're coming, or both, but Duncs would be well-served to simplify his game for the next little while.
-I know it was deflected, but Ray Emery really should have that first goal. If you're down in your butterfly, no puck should get through your legs. Sorry. And that's the thing about all this hoopla about Emery's past week. Yes, he was good, but we know what Emery's ceiling is. Maybe we know what Corey Crawford's ceiling is too, though we've seen it much higher than Emery's. AT some point, you have to win a game in spite of Emery. I don't know how far you can get with that. Though I admit the alternative isn't any better right now, and that's likely the downfall of this team. Not effort.
-The Hawks also need to start getting offense from Bolland's line again. They did that when Stalberg and Bickell were providing a forecheck on it, and they should go back to that. Andrew Shaw's home in the 4th line, and if he were there Q might be tempted to play it for more than five minutes.
-Apparently, Barry Smith was again on the ice for practice at the morning skate. If someone actually asked we'd know, but I will not be shocked in the least that this is a harbinger of a power struggle that Quenneville could and should lose. This has been an underachieving team for two years now, with problems that have stuck for months that should have been solved in weeks. But either way, this is not a harmonious organization right now, and maybe someone should ask why.