By Connor McKnight–
It’s hard to pinpoint just how they’re generated or how they’re allowed but it’s response goals that are killing the Blackhawks right now. Goals that come in the final 90 seconds of the period, goals allowed right after the Hawks have scored, multiple goals in a span of 14 seconds–these are the goals that are killing the Hawks.
If you ask the players, they’ll tell you things like, “they’re not acceptable,” or “we can’t allow those,” or even, “they’ll kill you.” Problem is, they’re still hitting the back of the net.
Yes the Hawks could light the lamp more often than they are. It would help nullify the 2-1 losses the Hawks are taking right now. Goal scoring will come–especially with Marian Hossa back with Dave Bolland not far behind. Goal scoring shouldn’t be an issue over the long term.
What’s bothered me in Joel Quenneville’s time here with the Hawks is one small thing that might be leading to some of the issues. Hawks defencemen don’t seem to clear opposing forwards from around the crease. It seems elementary that Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith are able to move people around. They don’t, however, and that leaves me assuming it’s a scheme thing.
Pucks hanging around the net have found their way past Marty Turco (and Corey Crawford) lately and it’s killing the team.
The challenge is identifying the problem. I don’t think it’s effort. The players from last year seem determined to prove that the Cup-Hangover isn’t an issue. Even Patrick Kane, who had a rough start, has picked it up in both ends lately. It would be nice to see big guys like Bryan Bickell win more battles in the corners; he was a healthy scratch Sunday night, maybe there’s something there.
I don’t think it’s the new players either. There’s plenty of opportunity for more ice time for those guys. Many, like Viktor Stalberg, Jack Skille and Fernando Pisani have looked good in flashes and need to play with more consistency.
So if it’s not effort and it’s not strategy, what is it? Injuries? Growing pains? Snake bite?
Tough to tell. The good news is that the Hawks can afford to tread water for a while longer in this league. It’s been more than proven that 8-seeds can beat 1-seeds in the playoffs and I don’t think their issues will keep them from playing in the spring.