The Deepest Shade of Mushroom Blue - Jackets 4, Hawks 2
It took me a while to determine how I wanted to attack this wrap after having witnessed what we just did. I've decided I'm going to skip the linear narrative, and just give a Felsian rant.
While it's not time to panic (yet), color me officially fucking concerned. Pretty much every motivator has been broken out to this point, and nothing seems to be getting the job done. Players-only meetings, tirades from the coaching staff, jumbling of lines, playing time reduction, lineup changes...nothing yet seems to be getting through to these guys that there are now eight games left in the season, and they're in anything but a playoff mode. Only in the last three minutes did the Hawks put forth any sustained pressure or get any prime chances in front of the net, and it was too little too late. The passing for the entire game was abhorrent, which I'm starting to think is a result of Quenneville's constant line tinkering. The forwards aren't getting any sort of continuity, and the results are obvious. It's starting to border on comical, as these are the actions of a coach trying to save his own ass and claw into the playoffs, not a conference front runner that should be rounding into form as the playoffs start. As Sam pointed out in the Indian tonight, these could be the reasons we're seeing that for all the praise he receives, Q does have his weaknesses, and there's a reason that he's yet to have his name on the chalice as head coach.
Furthermore, the lack of effort from the players is unacceptable. I'm issuing a moratorium for myself on claiming "fatigue" or "doldrums" or "conserving energy" on this issue, and I think others should be advised to do the same. While I understand that injuries are forcing players to play in roles they're unaccustomed to and log heavier minutes, good teams fucking roll with it. Every team deals with injuries, it's a part of the game, and it's not a crutch to be leaned on when things don't go well. Having Jonathan Toews and John Madden on this team was supposed to create a baseline of energy and intensity for everyone to follow, but they're even showing signs of it too. At what point is someone going to step up and declare with their actions on the ice, rather than everywhere else, that enough is e-goddamn-nough of this dicking around, and perform the way this team is capable of?
Now, with all of that being said, I have zero doubt in my mind that this team is in fact capable of doing so. But they'd better get it figured out really fucking quick before all hell breaks loose.