Chicago, IL — For the second straight year the Chicago Blackhawks will have a long summer to think about a great many things that went wrong and how to fix them.
Twenty four hours after the team cleaned out their lockers and met with the local media, the entire organization used words like unacceptable, disappointed, shocked, mad, frustrated and embarrassed. None of these words are positives in any way.
What is concerning as a fan is that from the management down to the players they all seemed lost and confused and uncertain as to what had happened and that is a bit worrisome as a fan.
One can only hope after initial feelings and they review what took place what happened to them will be realized and addressed appropriately.
Now I am not a sports psychologist but I didn’t like what I was hearing before, during and yes even after the series from the entire team. To me their heads were not in the right place at all both on or off the ice.
I won’t single out comments other than to say I actually didn’t like anything any of them had to say which to me is huge warning signs that Stan Bowman and Joel Quenneville will have to sort through.
I previously blogged that the Hawks needed to forget their championship pedigrees and approach these playoffs as if they were new and the first time they had ever been in the playoff but I guess that is easier said than done.
Stan Bowman was asked if the team lacked hunger? His response was essentially if there is any player that thinks that, he will not be here long, I’m paraphrasing. I’m not sure hunger is the correct word as much as maybe the Hawks are victims of their own successes.
It’s human nature to think what worked for you before will work for you again. Except the game has changed from even 2015 so those same things may not work any longer. I think from top to bottom and maybe even us spoiled fans got a huge wake up call.
There was a comment made by several players that they did not reach the level or gear you needed for the playoffs. If not why not? that is either effort or being unprepared/misjudging your opponent .
Or perhaps maybe they could not reach that gear which is something Stan Bowman will need to address with a tight cap. Either scenario is not good.
Here is my amateur observations made out of love for this team as a fan.
The game is different now. I watch a lot of IIHF junior hockey when I can. The NHL network thankfully has started to broadcast these events in the States and team USA just won Gold in the under 18 tourney. How? With speed, speed, speed and skill. As Craig Button said pressure and attack. Hmmm sounds like what the Predators did.
Also if you look the young teams like the Oilers and Maple Leafs are doing really well which is scary for the rest of the league.
The game has gotten faster, younger and stronger. It is a more North/South game and inside the dots game and you have to have net front presence especially in the playoffs which the Hawks really didn’t do.
Crisp passing is essential and speed makes up for a lot of defensive mistakes if you can track opponents down from behind. Personnel is something Stan Bowman will need to assess and address.
The faster team usually wins now a days. That includes mobile fast defensemen which is something the Hawks may need to address or maybe the wrong Dmen were played and younger D was warranted against the Predators.
Jonathan Toews alluded to this when he stated he would look more at his off- season training and maybe add more speed and skill to his game which is the right track. Ryan Johansen owned him with more speed and power.
Jonny you are not the only one. More team skating speed and skill is needed across the board and passing tape to tape would help with this as well. What is that legs feed the wolf?
Jonathan Toews wasn’t the only player to get beat by speed and strength or no space was given.
I’m beginning to think Patrick Kane and Artemi Panarin smell like fresh meat to wild dogs because they attract everyone and get no space any more.
I think they all need to as Stan Bowman said look at the mirror and make changes individually.
What is the Hawks game anyway puck possession right? But how can you be a puck possession team when you are not good at face-offs, one on one board battles or puck management. That is a recipe for disaster in my opinion.
The Blackhawks Corsi numbers were actually worse when you consider how many shots they blocked. They give up way too many shots against and that happened in the regular season too. There were tons of games their goalies bailed them out but that is unsustainable as we see.
I’m not saying the Hawks should or have to be a puck possession team in fact the NHL teams that had great Corsi either didn’t make the playoffs or were also booted quickly. Just throwing that out there.
I do think though they need to take a look at their overall game and how it fares or translates to today’s game against younger, faster teams and make player or game plan adjustments if need be.
The Neutral zone Trap ah yes “Red Rover” as Coach Quenneville called it as reported by the local sports media. I’m shocked adjustments were not made to deal with this.
I don’t need to tell the Hawks how to adjust to this they know what to do. Why they were reluctant to do it or were they not good at the adjustments I’m not sure.
You better practice how to overcome all traps 1-3-1, 1-4 ect because now every team knows this is not what you like to do and it frustrates you. Until you can beat this it will continue to be thrown at you.
The other team in the playoffs using this the Ottawa Senators are also having success with it against the Bruins and are on the verge of knocking them out in the first round, so this will be a thing now teams try to employ.
Personally as a fan I hate it. It is boring to watch so I can only imagine playing against it. Some how some way you need to figure out how to beat this if you want to go far next year and make it a fun offensive challenge not something to dread. Coaches I look to you to address this.
Play 60 – no this is not the NFL program for kids but a call out to the team not only in the playoffs but the regular season to play a full game. Honestly in the playoffs I don’t think there was one game they played a full sixty minutes a bad habit that carried over from the regular season. This needs to change quick.
Scorched Earth – or maybe it is sloppy ice if you skate over a team too many times. Blackhawks I’ve got news for you other teams particularly in the West hate you and revenge and vengeance is a very powerful motivator.
The Wild, Blues, Predators, Ducks, Sharks, Kings have all had their seasons and Stanley Cup hopes dashed by you not just once either by some of these teams, so now they are looking for payback big time.
The media even doesn’t want you to succeed as people call it “Hawks fatigue”. You have no idea how much all the other fan bases hate you.
I see it all the time when you win on my twitter feed “I hate the Blackhawks”. Not sure what that says except why do people hate on success or excellence? I guess envy. I usually laugh. So know you are hated by other teams, their fans and media.
The one good thing going out early is why get all the way to the final to lose. Maybe this is the slap in the face the entire organization and fan base needed and now there is plenty of time to adapt to changes.
I have no doubt changes will be made and rightfully so when you don’t meet your goal.
As Stan Bowman said to keep repeating the same thing over and over and expect different results isn’t going to happened and well isn’t that the definition of crazy?
Look you were right there for two years now you just have to address the Central teams first and then the West as a whole.
Remember also they adjusted their teams specifically to play the Hawks. You’ve been studied more than probably any other team.
Even I know how to beat you and I’m not a professional coach or player.
As a Blackhawks fan I still love you guys, thank you for a great regular season I was highly entertained. I have faith the necessary adjustments will be made and next year at this time the story will be entirely different.
In the meantime the next few months should be telling as to the future direction of this team.
I’m only writing this because I know you guys have more Cups in you. Enjoy Summer and GO HAWKS!