Blackhawks Down 3-0: Eulogy Time or Forward Thinking?

On Sunday night, the Blackhawks again pressured the Canucks just enough to lose an exciting game.

They’re now down 3-0 in the series.

Is it time to write the Blackhawks off? Should the playoff beards come off with the golf club covers?

If it was October, I would write about how the Hawks were playing three kids – Nick Leddy, Ben Smith and Marcus Kruger – instead of Jordan Hendry, Ryan Johnson and Tomas Kopecky. Certainly this inexperience was little more than a building block for later, right?

If it was November, I would write the Hawks being handicapped by John Scott skating in place of Bryan Bickell. If he can’t fight, what good is he?

If it was December, I would cry about the hit Raffi Torres put on Brent Seabrook, and talk about how he should be suspended at length by the NHL.

But the Hawks’ leading scorer in the series is Smith.

And the Canucks beat the Hawks in the first two games without Torres.

At this point, excuses and hyperbole are worthless. At some point, the Blackhawks have to finish.

Everything looked like it was going well for the Blackhawks. They scored first – a rare positive contribution from Duncan Keith in the series – and were dominating the flow of the action. The refs had taken notice of the cheap play the Canucks were trying to get away with, and the Hawks were getting power plays.

But the season-long epidemic that has plagued the team showed up yet again. The Blackhawks went 1-4 on the power play in the first period, including 77 seconds of 5-on-3 action that came up empty.

Indeed, there were two moments in the game that ultimately proved to be microcosms of this frustrating Blackhawks season.

The first came when Kevin Bieksa did what he does so well – taking a stupid penalty. His elbowing call gave the Hawks the 5-on-3 late in the first period, setting up a potential two-goal lead (or more) and getting the United Center jumping.

But the coaching staff decided they needed Keith on the ice too late to get a change and were forced to use their timeout in the first period to avoid being called for a penalty.

The Blackhawks have played 85 games this year, and weren’t able to get the right five skaters on the ice for a 5-on-3 at home with a lead in the postseason? Really?

The remedy for that mistake is simple: whomever is running the power play should be unemployed. Mike Kitchen has been an Achilles’ heel to this team the entire season, and his inability to get the right people on the ice was an epic mistake that is not acceptable at this time of year. Championship teams don’t waste their timeout so they can get a change before the puck drops for a 5-on-3 in the first period. Even a cynic couldn’t laugh at how ridiculously embarrassing that was.

Oh, and then Kitchen sent John Scott out for the 5-on-3 to stand in front of Luongo, and he spent more time outside the circles than he did in front of Vancouver’s net. The entire power play was a debacle.

The second moment that perfectly captured the 2010-11 Blackhawks season came at 9:56 in the second period. The Hawks dressed Scott for the first time in the series because of injuries and he was desperately trying to be a wrecking ball. Every second he was on the ice he was looking for a hit, but he got more of the boards than any Canucks player. He was credited with three hits on eight shifts, but two of those were phantoms.

At 9:56 in the second, Scott was called for interference on one of the rare times he made contact with a Canucks player. It took the Canucks seven seconds on the subsequent power play to tie the game. Momentum was lost, as was the lead.

Then, in what has become all-too-familiar fashion from these Hawks, the tie was blown when Vancouver scored again 54 second later. You could have heard a pin drop in the United Center.

From that point on, the Hawks struggled to sustain a rush, their passing went down the drain, and the 21,743 in attendance went from excited to scared, frustrated and apathetic.

Are the Blackhawks banged up? Sure. Did they have a laundry list of potential excuses last night? Absolutely. Does any of that matter in April? Hell no.

15 thoughts on “Blackhawks Down 3-0: Eulogy Time or Forward Thinking?

  1. The refs gave the Hawks gifts of PP’s & a 5 on 3 & couldn’t convert more than 2 goals. That was pathetic! The refs did miss a tripping call of poor Tazer on that 5 on 3. Seabs hit was the last straw. Torres is a damn goon. Hawks were practically handed the gm to win & couldn’t. Their passing was horrible. They’re deflated & tired.

  2. See-ya Hawks, shouldn’t have made the playoffs anyways. Quenville is the problem, just look at his track record. Sure, give him a loaded team while skirting the Cap rules and he’ll win – like any other coach in the NHL. Having to follow the rules by unloading half your Championship roster proves the point and the results are typical of a Quenville led team. One and done! Goes to show you how hard it is to be elite year after year, like the Wings…..

  3. Tab and Frank I couldn’t agree more. I have been a fan my whole life including through some pretty down times for the franchise but I have never been truly embarrassed and I was last night. Your comments on the coaching are dead on – pathetic is a word that comes to mind when you consider issues like game rosters, line combinations and PP approach. I have criticised Q’s crony Mike Kitchen’s hiring all year. Q is already stubborn and thinks he is always the smartest person in the room, although there is no basis for his opinion. The last thing the team needed was a cowering yes man assistant. Rumours already have Haviland leaving for Atlanta and he is the only one who seems to truly get it.

  4. Larry, honest question: Are you in the room with Q ever? How do you know he thinks he’s the smartest person? What’s the basis for YOUR opinion?

  5. It’s incredible for me to see the knee jerk reactions of my fellow Hawk fans (on this site and others) when this team loses a hockey game. Obviously, as Tab said in his write up, if it were Oct, Nov, or Dec the reaction is different, but I can’t help but temper my own frusteration with the following:

    – I am very pleased with the play of our youngsters in this series, and where it applies this season. Frolik, Smith, Leddy and Crawford will all be significant for this team next year.
    – The hockey world is the Hawks oyster. There is going to be a lot of ledger work being done in order to figure out how this team will look skating into next year, but the options available at managements fingertips are as impressive as any. Ask yourself what is your biggest concern? Second line center perhaps? What could any combination of Brouwer, Stalberg, Sharp, Kruger, Pirri, Beach, Olsen or other prospects and picks grab in this league… almost anyone. We could trade Campbell and sign Richards, not a suggestion, merely an example of the world of possibilities available to this team.
    – The Icehogs finished their season very impressively.
    – Games 4-7 haven’t been played yet.

  6. This entire up and down season is Stan Bowmans fault. How do you defend a championship with out toughness and size. The skill players are still very young and have been beaten to a pulp. Bowman works for the DeadWings….not the Hawks. Detroit sucks!

  7. Tab and others are right. Kitch has to go… I think Q’s postgame showed his frustration with the PP situation and I think his frustration is with himself giving Kitch the keys to the PP. Debacle is the right word for it. If you want to blame the Bowmans, blame them for John Scott. They envisioned him as a replacement for Buff. The only problem is Buff can skate and Scott can’t skate, pass, check, or block. He too is a debacle! Our stars have been trying to carry the water for these problems the whole season. They are tired, injured, and trying to play at the same level without the depth or physical play. John Scott and Kitch must go somewhere else.

    One last thing. I am sounding like a broken record but, passing has been a REAL problem the WHOLE year. Pat Foley acted like he saw it for the first time last night. Roll footage for every game prior to December and most through March.

  8. Hear that whistling sound? That’s the sound of a Hawk folding its wings and plunging to earth.

  9. It basically comes down to this fellow Hawks fans.You cannot chop out the heart and soul of your team (or any team) and expect to carry over that fantastic,gritty style of play from last year.This years Hawks are a shell of last years team.They had all the right pieces in place for a good,long playoff run.Grinders and role guys who did exactly what they had to do.So many players slashed…but i think Buf is missed the most.
    Also,in regards to this year,we have so much offensive firepower…where is all the scoring?? Has anyone seen Hossa ?Lotta money payed out there for very little production at a time when it is sorely needed.

  10. The Vancouver franchise has made some shrewd, very smart moves in coach hiring, drafts, trades, and free agency over the years, which are finally showing their worth. They did what the Hawks did, but the Hawks are old news for the time being. The Canucks are also weathering the playoff storm like they haven’t in the past with disciplined, level headed play. They’ll be hard to beat down the stretch.

  11. So 7 penalties & Torres being a mental midget is “disciplined”? Let’s not give credit where it isn’t due, Jack – AV has yet to show he’s anything as a postseason coach & the Canucks are beating a banged up, inferior team right now. I don’t think Detroit or San Jose is going to look at the first 3 gms vs Chicago and be worried at all.

  12. get the award for stupidest comment ever, making a bird reference to the Blackhawks – who are named after a native american tribe on a site named committedINDIANS. sticktap to stupidity brother

  13. Let’s take this in stride as we didn’t become Champions last year, overnight. If I remember correctly it took us a few years to put all the pieces together, we won some and lost some, then we won it all. Keep in mind we had a rough year, Dallas let us in, we didn’t do it on our own, and that infamous Chi-town slogan, “lets wait til next year!” Lifetime fan, many more downs than ups, a ton of almost’s, but recently ups are becoming frequent. And then last year the ultimate up and we finally won it all. Have a good summer and we’ll see you in October. GO HAWKS!!!!!

  14. If I see one more post, one more blog about how this was “all Bowman’s fault”, I am going to vomit… The guy was handed a a freaking mess. Lets call this year what it is, a Rebuilding year, and realize that Kitchen should be fired immediately for his horrible management of the personnel on the power play… Outside of that, the Blue Liners have played like crap, only some of the hawks show up to play each night and we are playing a better team. Don’t worry Canucks haters, I am sure a better team with bounce them in the next round…

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