By Jay Zawaski–
(CBS) — Friday night, the Blackhawks fell 4-1 to the Detroit Red Wings. For the better part of 60 minutes, the Red Wings dictated play and capitalized on several sloppy Hawk mistakes. Let’s get to the shorties.
Turnovers A-plenty— For as much as the Red Wings took it to the Blackhawks Friday night, the Hawks certainly did their part in giving the game away. Three Red Wings goals came after brutal defensive zone turnovers by the Hawks. First, Luke Glendening intercepted a Kris Versteeg cross ice pass, and scored easily. In the 2nd period, Patrick Kane sloppily turned the puck over to Henrik Zetterberg. That’s never a good idea. He got the puck to Johan Franzen, who scored on a backhander. Then, later in the 2nd David Rundblad, who had put together a pretty nice string of games, tried to send a puck into the Hawks zone. The pass was intercepted, and the odd man rush was on. Corey Crawford never had a chance.
Mike Babcock deserves a ton of credit for this Detroit win. He knew exactly how to beat the Hawks, and the Wings executed the plan perfectly. Detroit took away the center of the ice in all three zones. Babcock suspected the Hawks would refuse to adapt until it was too late, and he was right. By the time the Hawks started changing their strategy, the game was 3-1, and the 3rd period was halfway over. Babcock is the best head coach in the game. Friday’s performance was just another example.
Wheel o’ Discipline— I’ve been a bit hung up on Joel Quenneville’s lines and roster decisions this season. Perhaps I’ve been too hard on Quenneville. After all, he’s won two Stanley Cups and has taken the Hawks to heights I’d never dreamed possible. Well, Friday’s game was just another reminder of why I get so upset.
Kris Versteeg’s turnover in the 1st was unforgivable. Quenneville quickly benched Versteeg until the period ended, then returned him to the top line.
Patrick Kane’s turnover was also pretty horrid. Kane, who scored a goal and ended the game with 6 shots on goal, was benched for 5 minutes, then demoted to the 4th line.
We’ve seen guys like Bryan Bickell and Jeremy Morin make similar mistakes and get stuck in the doghouse for weeks.
Quenneville is a great coach, and has more hockey knowledge in one of his eyelashes than I’ll ever have in my whole life, but I can’t help but feel that he’s hit the panic button a bit this season. Every mistake is brutally punished. Lines don’t stay together for more than a game. He demands consistency from his players, while he’s given none to his players.
The Hawks are a great team, and they’re going to be fine, despite this less than ideal start. Q needs to trust his guys and let them work out of this. Keep some lines together. Shorten the leash. Your guys will reward your faith.
TVR — Trevor van Riemsdyk’s development has probably been the best part of this young season so far. After unexpectedly winning a job out of training camp, he’s emerged as one of the team’s most reliable shut down defensemen. He made several brilliant defensive plays this evening, and found himself paired with two-time Norris Trophy winner Duncan Keith for most of the contest.
There’s no panic in his game whatsoever. He almost always makes the right decision, and has shown a little more confidence and willingness to take a risk offensively lately. In 3-5 years, TvR could be the complete package, just like Niklas Hjalmarsson.
Thanks for reading. Look for another edition after Sunday’s game vs the Dallas Stars.
Also, be sure to join me and my special guest, Johnny Oduya, for a Bud Light “On the Glass”event next Tuesday. Oduya and I will be at McGee’s (950 W. Webster – Chicago) from 7-8:30 p.m. talking hockey. There will be a Q&A session, followed by an autograph signing. I hope to see you all there.
Jay Zawaski is the executive producer of the Spiegel and Mannelly Show on 670 The Score and the Blackhawks columnist for CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JayZawaski670.