Varlamov, Avs Beat Blackhawks

Once again, the Blackhawks put plenty of shots on net against Semyon Varlamov and the Colorado Avalanche. And, again, Varlamov was up to the challenge as the Hawks dropped a game in Denver and fell to third place in the Central Division.

Antti Raanta was in net for the first time since late January, and played well in spite of the three goals allowed. He made a number of great saves in the first, but allowed a soft goal to Brad Malone with 96 seconds left in the opening period. Matt Duchene beat him only 19 seconds into the middle frame, and Ryan O’Reilly scored a power play goal while the Avs had a 5-on-3 advantage early in the third period.

The Hawks managed to get 25 shots on Varlamov in the first 40 minutes, but only Patrick Kane was able to beat Colorado’s netminder.

In the third, a dumb interference penalty on Andrew Shaw was followed by a delay of game penalty on Marcus Kruger. The Avs had better than 90 seconds of a two-man advantage, and were able to convert to extend to a two-goal advantage.

With Raanta on the bench for the extra skater, Brandon Saad scored his 19th of the season to bring the Hawks back to within one with 2:17 remaining in regulation. The Hawks pulled Raanta again in the closing minute and put a flurry of shots on net, but weren’t able to tie the score.

Coach Joel Quenneville not only surprised many by starting Raanta in net, but also threw a curveball with seven defensemen in the lineup; Sheldon Brookbank skated as a forward and recently acquired center Peter Regin was a healthy scratch.

Varlamov was credited with 37 saves in the win, stopping 13 of 14 in both the second and third periods. In five games (four starts) against the Blackhawks this year, Varlamov has stopped 168 of 175 shots (.960 save percentage) and has a 4-0-0 record.

For Chicago, Jonathan Toews won 18 of 25 faceoffs and Saad led the team with seven shots on net. Bryan Bickell, who started on a line with Kris Versteeg and Brookbank, led the team with six hits in 10:39 and Brent Seabrook led the way with four blocked shots.

Both Toews and Kane skated over 23 minutes in the loss.

Brookbank skated only eight shifts – 4:33 – and spent five minutes in the penalty box after fighting Cody McLeod in the first period.

Colorado won the game with Paul Stastny (back) and PA Parenteau (leg) out of the lineup. The Hawks were without Marian Hossa. Both teams have 16 games remaining on their regular season schedules.

The Hawks are back on the ice against Nashville on Friday night at the United Center.

Toews COL

48 thoughts on “Varlamov, Avs Beat Blackhawks

  • March 12, 2014 at 11:37 pm

    It’s hard to say that we have a team that can go deep in the playoffs this year after displays like these. With our backs against the wall and down the stretch this whole season we’ve consistently managed to come up short.

    Why we waste roster spots with Brookbank as a forward, especially against a team with this sort of speed, is quite simply mind boggling…

    Again, the oppositions net minder completely outshone our own. I know we’ll cruise into the playoffs but I just can’t see how we plan to beat teams Like Boston, Anaheim or St. Louis in a seven game series when we can’t beat Colorado. ALL SEASON LONG.

    It’s hard to watch but I guess repeating was more of a fairytale anyhow.

  • March 12, 2014 at 11:48 pm

    Well said Dark Bird…it is quite perplexing…bright spot is we have the playoff experience but ….we do seem to come up short far to frequently and that simply cannot happen in the playoffs….0-4-0 against Varlomov is telling…nice individual play by Kane and pulling the goalie early pays off but, once again, we come up short. Unless this is all part of some mysterious strategy I fear we will not be able to repeat.

  • March 12, 2014 at 11:57 pm

    I’ll give the benefit of the doubt regarding the 7th d-man playing because it may have been because Hjalmarsson was iffy after taking a shot blocking beating the last game. In fact, Q may have almost slipped a bit in the post game interview when asked about playing 7 d-men he responded something like “just to be sure everything was OK” and then he kind of cut off the answer. I took that like possibly he wanted Brookbank dressed for the game in case Hjammer was struggling. With Colorado’s speed it’s important to have 6 d-men going.

    As to the game – more of the same against the Avs. They scored three goals – the first was a soft goal given up by our goalie, the second was a lucky bounce off Hjammer’s skate right to their best player, and the third was because Shaw took a stupid penalty. The Hawks carried most of the play and except for the first goal, Raanta played well. But the puck always stops with Varlamov. He has been the difference in their 4 wins and been at least one goal better than our goalie.

    The Avs are at least as fast if not faster than the Hawks. They play smarter and within their system very well. And, they have better goaltending. The Hawks have playoff experience and sometimes that matters. If the Hawks meet the Avs in the playoffs, we better hope it does.

  • March 13, 2014 at 12:03 am

    What’s alarming to me is the lack of forward depth on a team supposedly dominated by forward play. I know Hossa is out, and the Brookbank move by Q is beyond dumb, but the lack of consistency from guys like Versteeg, Bickell, Handzsus, etc. is what scares me. I’m hoping Teuvo makes some difference, but will Q give him the Pirri treatment?

    My hope is the playoffs kick this team into gear. There’s obviously too much Cup-winning talent here for it not to at least come up a notch. Dropping big games like this is an alarming trait though.

  • March 13, 2014 at 4:26 am

    we’re fine. that was far from our best game. so many unforced errors, bobbled pucks, missed passes. if that style of play (open, speed, transition) is repeated in a 7-game series, and we play close to our capacity, i think we’ll probably win 4 of the 7. plus, colorado seemed to get most of the breaks tonight (two posts, horrible kane call, tons of rebounds just out of reach, rough kruger penalty, and very unlucky bounce on duchene’s goal). over a 7 game series, those breaks are more likely to even out.

    end of the day, we played our “C” game, with our backup goaltender in, and with below-average puck luck, and were still competitive.

    agreed on the point above… where’s versteeg, shaw, and sharp? our top line played well (except shaw, when he was on the first line), as did our vaunted fourth line. besides kane’s glorious individual effort, the second and third lines were largely invisible.

    furthermore, we aren’t exposing colorado’s D for what they are – porous and slow. their gap control is very good when we enter the zone. we need to expose their slowness with an effective dump-and-chase. hit them, condition them, and wear them down. that’s where bickell, shaw, and bollig are indispensable. then later in games/series, we should have options for clean entries.

  • March 13, 2014 at 6:32 am

    I realize Colorado was missing two good players to injury, but the Hawks are missing Hossa AND they had Brookbank in the lineup as a forward and he barely played.(I will give him credit for fighting McLeod) They have an 18 year old kid in the lineup who is making a difference for them. In my opinion as a fan we need all our guys for the playoffs, including TT. We can’t nurse and baby our top prospects along and expect to repeat when teams like Colorado are throwing their young stars out there right away and they are making a difference for them. This just confirms for me that if TT is ready he should play this year in the playoff’s.
    Assuming TT is ready as it sounds like he is and Hossa is back then I like the Hawks chances in the playoffs against anybody in a seven game series. GO HAWKS.

  • March 13, 2014 at 7:17 am

    I agree with Travis. This game very close and if it wasn’t for a perfect bounce to Duchene on his goal and a STUPID penalty by Shaw when we really had the momentum and were pressing, the outcome could have been different. Keith looked shaky early but improved as the game went on. Sharp really needs to start putting the puck in the net soon. The forth line, as always, had another strong game. Bollig is WAY outplaying our 4 million dollar man right now.

  • March 13, 2014 at 7:19 am

    In my opinion the Hawks have not been outplayed by Avs this year except between the pipes. Yes they blew us up there back in Nov once and we whippped them up here pretty good in Dec. The rest of these games were decided by sparkling play of Varlamov, some atrocious puck luck for the Hawks, and great bounces for the Avs. To a large degree this how many hockey games are decided. Despite the outcome this was a really fun hockey game to watch.

    A few things stood out last night. Shaw penalty was just stupid. Afterwards, the look on his face said “WTF was I thinking?”. Bad Shaw. I thought to myself, this penalty taken deserves a goal to be scored, and then Krugs gorps one over the glass. Goal scored. Thank you sir may I have another.

    Raanta made some great saves, but lets in the back breaker softy at the end of the 1st. In games like this, plays like that become the difference as the ledger sheet otherwise is pretty much even. Hard to blame Antti though. The guy hadn’t played in 6 weeks or so? Forgetting hindsight, the logical break Raanta back in game was the Columbus contest last week. I thought the reason Q might have started Raanta was to get the team motivated to play a better defensively. Against a keeper that has had our number all year though was perplexing to me.

    Sorry but unless Regin was ill, how can you sit that player, and play Zus against a fast team such as the Avs? Beats me. BB wasn’t bad.

    Seems likely we will play the Avs in 1st round, but who knows? I like our chances in a 7 game series. Games would be entertaining as hell. Hopefully with a healthy Hossa back that makes the difference in a potential 7 gamer. At some point the Hawks should find a way to solve Varlamov, but hey, tip of the cap to him. He has beat us.

    Finally, how can a hockey fan not like Matt Duchene? I love watching that guy. He is the real deal, and unfortunately for the Hawks, will get even better. Scary to think, but man is that guy good and a pleasure to watch. Same with MacKinnon, and Landeskog, and Stastny, but that as far as I’m going with that. I should throw in OReilly, too….

    We need some wins, so let’s hope the guys reboot and get the Preds tomorrow and Wings Sunday.

    Lets Go Hawks!

  • March 13, 2014 at 7:41 am

    Shaw made a stupid mistake, that is what young players with an edge do. The penalty did not help the cause, obviously, but I am not going to pin this loss on Shaw. We lost this game because we only scored 1 goal in the first 56 minutes, period. No team can go 56 minutes scoring 1 goal and expect to beat a top tier team.

    Teams who have speedy forwards who get back quickly and plug up the middle give the Hawks trouble. The Hawks generally do not lose to the opposition Dmen, they lose to collapsing forwards. Q and the brain trust are seeing this style more and more. Sure, some teams (Columbus comes to mind) do not have forwards who can collapse quickly and the Hawks dominate most of the time. However, Q is gonna have to figure out how to counteract this style. The Hawks need to score 3 goals plus to be effective.

  • March 13, 2014 at 7:47 am

    Hawks played better than the outcome. Avs have a very fast, strong team and a decent net minder. Poor Ranta has not been in the net for a lifetime, not a good use of a very good goal tender. He needs to be in a consistent rotation every 2 weeks minimum. Hawks only problem a la challenge all year is consistent Traffic in front of the net. Plenty of lose pucks ALL NIGHT LONG just no traffic, no tips, no screens. Hawks dominated after the first. Bickel is Back he played much better in my eyes, more hits and quicker on his skates. The other problem is we have to do better on the powerplay period. All the playoffs will be won as it was last night on power plays. The skill to play in front of the net, with size and patience and take a pounding and have the stick skills to score is under rated, Hawks have plenty of skaters and passers but net presence is an art. Also Leddy needs to TAKE IT TO THE NET, i want to see him go hard to the net, Hawks d men can skate, so skate! Love Leddy! Go hawks!

  • March 13, 2014 at 7:53 am

    I’ll blame Shaw.

    Once Keith starts skating 29 minutes again and the line up card gets properly sorted out I think there will be more cohesiveness and such.

    Varlamov is a pooh face.

    They have some really favorable matchups to end the year with the exception of STL twice and Boston once so they shouldn’t drop too many points.

  • March 13, 2014 at 7:58 am

    Some great posts/views today.
    ER- Last Paragraph- exactly…they play as smart/within their system…(some here have suggested the Avs Defense is weak/will crumble, I suggest their Forwards are incredibly fast/responsible in covering most of the Defensive issues). MacKinnon/Duchene are beasts!!!

    Dave Johnsen-exactly… my 2nd post game thought… the Hawks “bottom 6” was out played/out quicked (and we are supposedly deeper???)- In particular, 29,26,23,17- AWFUL/invisible!!! BICKELL’S new nickname is HANDCUFFS!!!! They are strapped w his contract- And I don’t see how they get rid of him!

    This Avs/Hawks match-up is really reminding me of the Yotes/Hawks when Yotes won PO series…they have better Goalie, they are quicker to loose pucks, Hawks will out shoot them, but they will have as many or more Grade A shots, (and Avs have better finishers vs. Yotes)…. Avs Will WIN!!!

    The ONLY advantage here…as mentioned by others…Hawks do Have experience.
    But- Avs are for real!!! And are Hungry!!! Are a fun team to Watch!!! Tons of speed/skill/youth!!!!

  • March 13, 2014 at 8:40 am

    Well said Mike. I agree. Q seems to be good in adapting tactics to counteract other teams strategies, especially in playoffs.

    I hope so.

    Lets Go Hawks!

  • March 13, 2014 at 8:49 am

    I too think BB was dressed in case of a more serious injury to Hammer. I am probably okay with this move if BB was able to balance out the ice time at all. Q sat him for a long stretch after the fight…which I thought was tough. I was glad he actually stood up and defended himself.

    The forward depth comment is right on. We have some good forward depth…which should allow us to roll 4 lines, but instead we ride 9-10 players. This is insanely difficult to do against well disciplined teams who get “something” from all 12 forwards.

    Wall is right and this is like the 2012 Yotes series. I find it difficult when people say we will be okay in a playoff series against these guys. It is tough to say us peppering shots against Varlamov will eventually go in when he has a .960 save percentage against the Hawks in five games. That is a pretty big sample. We also thought shelling Smith with shots would eventually go our way…and it didn’t.

    Each forward dressed needs to have the ability and confidence of Q to get at least 8 minutes of even strength time a night. Zus and Regin need to rotate. I call up Morin.

    Roll 4 lines.

  • March 13, 2014 at 9:08 am

    Peter, this is kind of a nitpik comment, but the Avs really didn’t roll 4 lines either. Their 4th line played 5:59/6:03/7:09 (10/11/12 shifts), whereas the Hawks had only Brookbank in single digit TOI (4:33) and Bickell and Versteeg played 10:39/10:56 (16/17 shifts) – so a little better ice time distribution than the Avs.

    Also, I thought Bickell had a pretty good game, at least from a hitting standpoint – he ended up with 6 hits which is pretty good by any standard and is above and beyond for Bickell.

  • March 13, 2014 at 9:19 am

    ER, I should always go back to ice time numbers before making a statement…I guess it gets frustrating when I know the Hawks are wasting an active spot. I thought Bickell deserved a little more time too. There was one shift when Bickell and Bollig were on the ice at the same time…it wasn’t the fastest the Hawks have ever been, but both had a quality hit on that shift. It was good to see.

  • March 13, 2014 at 9:25 am

    Complaining about Bickell is growing tiresome. The guy is actually playing better than last year but people need to throw someone under the bus, so he is the easy target since he has new money. He was put on a line with Versteeg as his center and Brookbank as his other wing… DEFINITELY HIS FAULT FOR BEING THE WORST PLAYER EVER.

    If Q didn’t have 2 rings he would be absolutely torched by the media (maybe… no beat writers actually ever ask real questions). Maybe we should all blame Stan for actually signing Handzus again? But I’m 99% sure he offered that contract thinking Q wouldn’t think he was an 82 game guy.

    There was no excuse to dress Brookbank as a forward, I don’t buy into the “Hammer might not be ok” crap. If he isn’t ok, scratch him. If he gets hurt in the middle of the game, Keith is more than capable of skating 30 minutes. I’m not saying that Brookbank dressing was the reason the Hawks lost, but it certainly didn’t help. Speaking of weird lineup decisions…

    Why did Raanta start? Again, I don’t think he was the reason they lost, but why did he start? Lets say he has an amazing game and shuts them out… then people question if he should start against them in the first round of the playoffs. What message does this send to Colorado? The Hawks don’t think we are good enough so they use their backup? What message does it send to Crawford? Q has made a lot of bad decisions in his career here, I’ll put this one up there.

    Anyway, Hawks played well, again. They should be winning these games and I can only assume the Hawks will sweep them in the first round of the playoffs. It only makes sense after what has happened thus far in the regular season.

  • March 13, 2014 at 9:49 am

    Yet another disappointment from the Hawks in the 2nd half of the season…and it is so painfully easy to see why…that’s why I called this over 2 months ago…and it will continue…

    The NHL has grown up…there are lots of other teams with deep rosters and excellent goaltending, our Hawks no longer stand out head over heels above the rest of the league…there is a form of parity…we CANNOT skate 3 lines with average goaltending and expect to win hockey games, let alone another SC…

    Over the past 6 years of Chicago Blackhawk hockey one thing is powerfully evident…we win hockey games (a lot of them) because of our great depth at the forward position…when we roll 4 lines we win, as all 4 lines back check, protecting our DMen…this keeps the stars fresh, and in close games their skill takes over and we find ways to win…

    No longer…this hasn’t been happening for the Hawks since Zus and Bickell came back from injury…we don’t roll 4 lines consistently, and we don’t have a Centre for the likes of Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp…we are very much an average NHL hockey team right now, and our record shows it…Zus missed a month of hockey, during which we went 11-3-1 (.845 winning %), with our only 3 losses coming on the road to MIN, COL and NAS…since he returned to the lineup we are 21-20 in games won and lost…that’s over 41 games, a big sampling, and we are a .500 hockey team…

    During these 41 games we have technically rolled 4 lines a total of only 23 times…in which we are 16-2-5, that’s taking 37 out of a possible 46 points…in the other 18 games we have 5 wins…that’s 27%…

    What does all of this tell us…without Handzus we win…and with Handzus in the lineup we only win when we roll 4 lines…last night Zus skated 12 minutes, but only 8 and a half 5 on 5…and he’s our 2nd line centre…in the 23 games Zus has played in since Christmas, he has ZERO goals, 2 assists, and is a -5, averaging 13 minutes per game, and only 9 and a half minutes 5 on 5…only 2 regulars have fewer 5 on 5 minutes than Zus…

    So again, reflect…centring some of the best offensive players in the world, he’s a minus player, with no goals and only 2 assists…gee, I wonder why Patrick Kane’s production has fallen out of the sky, and he’s apparently demanding a 2nd line centre???

    In the face of all these numbers and realities, against one of the fastest skating teams in the league, in a game we needed to win, Q decides to skate an injured Hammer on Defence, then to protect that decision, skates a below average, aging, talentless DMan as our 3rd line RW for 4 minutes, scratches a healthy, trade deadline acquisition in Regin, and dresses Zus, but only skates him 8 and a half 5 on 5 minutes…

    Now, Mr. Q, are you purposefully trying to lose hockey games to try and build character amongst your team? Because beyond that, I can’t make much sense of your decision making…

    Jeremy Morin is sitting, wasting away in Rockford as the BEST offensive player in the AHL (his 4th season) while this gong show goes on in Chicago? Good thing I meditate every day…

    And for those ragging on Shaw’s dumb penalty last night? Other than that he played yet another very good game, and we don’t score our 2nd goal without Shaw on the ice…the loss has NOTHING to do with Andrew Shaw…the life blood of this hockey team!

    Until TT shows up, this mess is going to continue, like I predicted 2 months ago…

  • March 13, 2014 at 9:57 am

    Nice comments by Peter and JS…there is no longer anything “wrong” with Bickell…he isn’t killing us out there, and is slowly picking up his physical play to go along side his improved defensive play…Bickell isn’t the problem, in fact, he needs to play more. Versteeg needs to skate more, Regin needs to play and skate more (and he’s not much)…Kane and Sharp need a F$CKING Centre…there is nothing wrong with our 1st and 4th lines…there is nothing wrong with our defence…there is no wrong with our goaltending, although it could be better…there is something drastically wrong with our 2nd and 3rd lines, and we had ZERO problems and were winning 75% of our games with Pirri and Morin playing keys roles on these 2 lines…

    Q, NOT BOWMAN, not anyone else, dumped these 2 off the roster and since then we are a .500 hockey team overall, and a 25% hockey team in games where we don’t roll 4 lines…yeah, F$CKING rocket science…

  • March 13, 2014 at 10:00 am

    I will repeat these staggering numbers one more time…

    in the 23 games Zus has played in since Christmas, he has ZERO goals, 2 assists, and is a -5, averaging 13 minutes per game, and only 9 and a half minutes 5 on 5…and he’s our 2nd line centre, playing with Patrick Kane.

  • March 13, 2014 at 10:22 am

    As the games get tighter we can’t continue to let in one “bad” goal per game. The first goal last night was very soft and right at the end of the period. Teams like the Avs and Blues are much tougher when playing with the lead. When we fall behind Q seems to immediately shorten the bench and stops rolling 4 lines. Also shortening the bench is tougher in Denver with the altitude. The decision to start Raanta and BB is very perplexing. Not blaming the loss on them but I would think we start the “A” team against a potential first round opponent that has had our number this year. I guess Q was making a statement – I only wish I could figure out what it was. Perhaps falling to 3rd place in the division will be incentive to pick it up over the balance of the year.

  • March 13, 2014 at 10:39 am

    For those of us waiting for the Hawks to suddenly come alive and figure out the magic formula to beat the Avs in a playoff series, get real fellas, not going to happen unless a few things change asap. The concept of outchancing/outshooting and statistical variance back to mean is fine on paper, but these guys have our number and they know it. Speed and better goaltending goes a long way in the playoffs (sound familiar?), and they have it. To right the ship, we best start:
    * Getting bodies in front of the net, staying there, and paying the price for rebounds/messy goals. The key to last years SC run? Big body Bickel on the 1st line in the crease area.. As has been posted here, the Avs are just as fast/faster than the Hawks and are backchecking like they have our handbook. Unless we get dirty we are not going to beat Varlamov with one timers/chances. Period.
    * Stop turning the puck over at center ice/opposing blue line trying to be fancy (yes I’m talking to you 23 and 10.) Putting stress on your D and goalie against opposing teams with speedy counter attacks leads to penalties/goals. It’s not complicated, it’s 101.
    * Zues is a special teams guy and rotational starter at best. Morin is still a Hog and 17 and 26 both on ice last night? Hello? Smh….
    * Bickel is not the problem/issue, get him more ice time as we’re going to need him in the playoffs…
    * Finally, we better HOPE and PRAY that TT can handle the NHL (let alone 2C) when he arrives day-1 (I, for one, am skeptical on this issue.) Otherwise, going to be an early summer.

  • March 13, 2014 at 11:03 am

    Really….!!!!! No comments on how BAD Keith played last night…..????? His first shift was BRUTAL as he treated the puck like it was a hand grenade …… Unfortunately it set the tone for the rest of the night……. AR bailed him out & others big-time last night & I agree the first goal was soft, but after that he was pretty much lights out & as good as SV…..

    The team laid an egg last night pure & simple….. Everyone struggled & it might have something to do with the altitude…..(attitude too maybe??)

    But I am optimistic because despite playing poorly the game was still there for the taking…..

    The sky is NOT falling, the Hawks are fine, & barring key injuries, once the play-offs start they will switch into beast mode & it will take a perfect game by their opponets to beat them…


  • March 13, 2014 at 11:14 am

    I agree with you Sr. Brad I can’t stand seeing anymore of Handzus. I don’t care how he played last year in the playoffs. He is a shell of that player and their are better options. The Hawks should not be losing because of this clown.

  • March 13, 2014 at 11:16 am

    sorry….” there are better options” stupid phone.

  • March 13, 2014 at 11:40 am

    Thanks for the correction, goldenbladz. I almost had a grammeurysm.

    I agree with Sr Brad on this one. Lines 2-3 are in shambles right now because of Q’s decision to play Handzus every night. The stats are pretty clear, and I can see how it’s frustrating for the 2nd line wingers because I was played with plenty-o-duds at my side and it’s frustrating as hell when better options are available but you’re stuck with what the stubborn coach gives you. Kane’s goal just spoke “if you won’t give me help, I’ll do this myself” to me.

  • March 13, 2014 at 11:57 am

    I assume Q started Sheldon Brookbank to keep 108 PIM Cody McLeod occupied. Mission accomplished.

    Now, don’t get me wrong – I’m a big, long time Hawks fan. But, Patrick Roy has got to be hands down winner of Coach of the Year ( if not the decade) award. The Avs have gone from the worst record in the west to 91 points and counting! There, I said it.

  • March 13, 2014 at 12:54 pm

    I almost never comment on here but am an avid Hawks fan and read all of this every day like many of you (Sr. Brad, wall, ER, JS, etc.). I absolutely agree on the rolling 4 lines issue. Not that it’ll ever happen, but these are the lines I’d love to see until Teuvo gets here…

    Without Hoss (injured):

    29- 12/26 -11/65

    With Hoss, and based on the assumptions that Q still wants 19 & 88 on different lines, and that he wants that stacked top line again:


    Once Teuvo arrives obviously try him at 2C and 23 can go back to RW on the 3rd line.

    Desperately need Morin up right now, especially with Hoss hurt and with Teuvo not here yet.

  • March 13, 2014 at 1:14 pm

    The Hawks have the talent to beat these guy but haven’t! The Avs have had the Hawks number for a number of seasons now. When the Avs stopped the Hawks winning streak last season it was a head scratcher. 5 or 6 match ups later it is no longer a head scratcher. There are a few reasons this is an awful matchup. Number 1 Varlamov absolutely OWNS the Hawks. Number 2 team speed by Colorado. Number 3 the Avs create a number of matchup issues because the Avs are strong were the Hawks are the weakest …down the middle! They have quick and talented centers that make plays and have a very balanced lineup in their top 9.

    In a 7 game series I would take the Avs and if they play I will do just that take the Avs. I would be confident that the betting public would bet the Hawks so I am planning on going the other way on that bet. I’m not happy about it but looking at critically.

  • March 13, 2014 at 1:34 pm

    Kevin, I agree with those lineups…

    Negzz, I agree to win against evenly matched teams, the Hawks have to stop let in softies and they have to start scoring 1 or 2 of those gritty, greasy, I love shin pads goals per game…if they aren’t prepared to play this way, then we can all see the results…

    Golden, I hate to dump on Zus, because he’s had a nice career, he’s an honest player, and helped us last year…but the Hawks are asking him to be something that he’s NOT…and to put him beside Kaner almost the entire season, is nothing short of a blunder, and that’s not Zus’ fault…

    Why do we have 2 extra defenders on this roster when we are having issues at forward and Hossa is injured…STUPID…

  • March 13, 2014 at 1:48 pm

    Um no Versteeg at center please. Ever.

    The top two lines should be 20/29 19 88 | 10 16 81 annnnnd everything falls into line after.

  • March 13, 2014 at 1:50 pm

    BTW, Bowman said very recently that the Hawks shouldn’t being using Defencemen as forwards…and yet last night…

  • March 13, 2014 at 1:56 pm

    Ya I guess I shouldn’t call Handzus a clown as I’m sure he has value on another NHL roster just please not as the Hawks 2C. Last year the Hawks 3rd line was the best in the NHL and now it is a shambles as someone has mentioned. I hope TT can right the ship at 2C, if not Sharp should be put there with 88 and 11 as wings.

  • March 13, 2014 at 4:12 pm

    This is the part of the season where all those shoot out loses and missed chances have caught up to the Hawks and the Hawks just haven’t step up to the plate like they did last year.

  • March 13, 2014 at 4:29 pm

    It’s worth noting that this is the first full 82-game season Shaw or Saad has played at the NHL level. Even w/ the Olympic break, that’s a lot of hockey for the two youngsters

  • March 13, 2014 at 4:43 pm

    Not the end of the world, just seems that way because of these inane roster issues. I had grown sick of the 2c situation seasons ago, yet here we are. Plus no Morin, Brookbank at wing, AR in vs Avs….it’s hard to accept or understand what is happening at times. Who would blame 88 if he walked?

    2 things that concern me about this team. Too careless with the puck, Whether unforced, ridden off the puck, whatever. We give it up way too much and we don’t fight hard enough to get it back. Simple really. There is a good chance this team finishes in the red in turnover takeaway ratio. Unheard of. Not since Peter Bondra was here has that happened! 2007. Also, our record in one goal games is barely average and well below recent seasons. The well documented trouble in OT, coupled with one goal game results is not what you want on your resume come Playoffs.

  • March 13, 2014 at 6:01 pm

    This is shaping up as a recovery season having won the Cup last year. It just is. We don’t make it out of the second round and I suspect Bowman, Q and the players kinda sorta acknowledge that at some level. This team is limping to the playoffs under the theory of saving themselves for a burst come the start of the playoffs. Very clear this is what is happening. This will also go down as the season Sharp became a selfish rat bastard in the name of getting his ass on the Canadian Olympics team. This team generously did everything to prop up his chances of being selected and hot damn if it didn’t work. But it also fucked with the chemistry of this team. Sharp needs to redeem himself and pay back that investment that was made in his fucking Olympics berth.

    Bowman made one fuck up move of note, and that was bringing back Versteeg. He fucking sucks at this stage. I want him gone as fast as humanely possible.

  • March 13, 2014 at 7:07 pm

    Negzz- Great post- especially agree with first several statements…

    JS- Please Humor me with your “Corsi/Moneyball stats” to prove your statement that (Handcuffs) “he is actually playing better than last year”!!! On second thought- Don’t!!!

    Handcuffs is not skating/playing better then last year!!! (I will concede he has skated better 2 out of last 3 games- but that “better” is coming off complete shit)…

  • March 13, 2014 at 8:27 pm

    Wall- one of the last posts a few threads back. Better possession numbers, better scoring rate/shooting percentage, worse luck (PDO). Only real difference is the dollars.

    If he was healthy and getting the first line minutes and power play time that Bowman thought he would, I imagine his numbers would be a lot better.

  • March 13, 2014 at 9:44 pm

    JS- Point total about 1/2 of last year… worst +/- on team – by far!!! On a team filled with +’s… Shooting % is better… most likely cuz he can’t skate by anyone to shoot much!!!

    And yes- I think he is hurt too (at least I hope that is the reason… and hope he fully recovers)…

    But If you really think he is skating well/better than last year… Your HIGH!!!

  • March 13, 2014 at 10:43 pm

    I didn’t say he was skating better.

    He isn’t getting assists this year, but that also might have to do with his line just not scoring. He’s still on the same/better goal pace.

    And PDO is a stat that is just shooting percentage + his goalies save percentage when he is on the ice. The goalies S% when he is on the ice is really low, that should normalize and he’ll be back to a + player… unless he keeps skating with a defensemen playing forward, then he’s kind of screwed.

  • March 14, 2014 at 2:08 am

    This is like a recovery season compared to ’13 and ’15 & ’16 are going to be… Yea I can see that. Even though when Hoss and Teuvo are in lineup we have 4 strong lines again. It does suck to have to watch some of these things, but I guess it goes with the territory of being one of the best teams every year.

    Lets not forget that when this team plays when it gots something to prove were extremely dangerous.

    Plus regardless of anything this season in ’15 & ’16 are 4lines are going to be even stronger.

  • March 14, 2014 at 7:37 am

    JS- c’mon… you did say he is Playing better… and the two stats that PROVE that are his shooting % and…his goalies poor save %- somehow equates to 29 actually playing better?????????????? Or Perhaps the Goalies poor % = 29 being skated by like a Turn-style!!!!

    The goalies poor save %- tells me that 29 MIGHT not be effective/responsible/getting back on D in time!!! Of course- It could be bad luck,,, or bad goaltending…

    If we want to Play games with numbers… Bickell’s +/- is 900% worse than the next worse +/- on the Hawks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 900%%%%%%%%

  • March 14, 2014 at 8:40 am

    Bickell has the worst PDO on the team. Can it mean he’s bad at defense? Sure. But it’s more than likely just an anomaly that will regress to the bean. Brandon Pirri (you know, the guy that can’t play two way hockey and is a mess in his defensive zone) would have one of the best PDO’s on the Hawks if he was still playing here. Bickell’s +/- is more bad luck than anything.

    But seriously, the guy is producing just like last season… but since he has money now it isn’t enough. Since we saw him go beast mode in the playoffs, we all want more. He’s an easy target to bus toss but it just isn’t fair.

    BTW, not sure if anyone has seen Pirri playing with Florida, but he’s been more productive in 5 games there than Handzus has been in the last 30 games here.

  • March 14, 2014 at 10:26 am

    Yeah JS, I was hoping someone else would bring it up and I am glad you did…Pirri was kind of out of his element the first couple of games with FLA, but has settled right in…

    In 5 games he now has 2 goals and an assist and is a +1 on a team with all minus players…he is averaging just over 14 minutes of ice time as their 2nd line Centre…good for Pirri…when he played with the Hawks as our 2nd line centre we had a .750 winning %…good thing we got rid of him…can’t skate, can’t play D, can’t do anything…

  • March 14, 2014 at 11:09 am

    JS- I respect you as one of the better/more intelligent posters here…
    BUT- you cannot convince me (and your argument is weak from your standards) that 29 is playing better this year vs. last year…

    Furthermore- even if he was playing at the exact same level as last year (which he isn’t)
    Fans do have a right to dump on a guy who is now Paid a better than average salary- to be less than average…

    How is 29 less than average? 2nd lowest ppg forward on team/more than 30 games (only 52 is lower, 26 is higher!), worst +/- on team (900% worse than next lowest +/- player), lowest PDO according to you (which to you means – bad luck) (to me – it means Hawks are skating 4 vs. 5 when 29 is on ice)…

    I think you have conceded that he might still be injured… Yet- he is playing better than last year??? Who you Crappin????

  • March 14, 2014 at 11:48 am

    Too much focus on 29 IMO. He looks much better post Olympic break. Now if he could get the same linemates for more than one period as well as more than 10 minutes of ice time then we can make a more informed assessment. And by linemates I don’t mean 17. I see we have yet another change in lines tonight. Would sure like to see some stability develop on the home stand. All recent cup winners have gotten hot at the end of the year which does not bode well if we can ‘t break out of this funk. I remain optimistic and wins over the Wings and Blues would be a big boost to our confidence.

  • March 14, 2014 at 2:25 pm

    Yeah, Wall, Bickell is NOT better this year than last, but he’s been fine the last 2 weeks, and if he can build on that, for the last part of the season, heading into the playoffs, it will be a HUGE boost for this team…but the bottom line is this…Zus and Regin are part time players for a SC champion team, and until TT arrives and takes that 2nd line Centre spot, we are going to continue to struggle…

    BTW, TT could be here as early as this Sunday if everything goes a certain way!!!

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