Another bad game against inferior opponents, another OT loss. That seems to be the way of it right now.  The Hawks started their Western road trip with an almost immediate goal against and were chasing the game and, indeed, their tails thereafter.

Fans are nervous and unhappy right now, and with good reason. While we can try to be optimistic and chalk it down to tiredness, or mid-season ennui, the Hawks are losing ground in the West, not only to Anaheim and St Louis (who are now level on points but have the ROW toebreaker and three games in hand) but also to San Jose and, for that matter, Colorado.  The gaping maw of the West Coast trip is swinging wide open right now and we don’t need much prompting to recall the nine-game losing streak two years ago.

If the Hawks play to their potential then there’s no reason why they won’t be at or near the top heading into the Olympic break. More performances like we’ve seen recently and we could be in for a torrid final six weeks.

Let’s talk about stuff:

 

  • Brandon Pirri came back in to the team to replace Michal Handzus and was slotted in to the 2nd line where.. he was OK. Nothing spectacularly good or bad from him. Be that as it may, he’s the best option there, so hopefully Q can overlook the odd defensive jitter.
  • Another returnee was Bryan Bickell, following his healthy scratch against Winnipeg. He looked to be trying to hard to show Q that he’s a raging bull (which he isn’t) by trying to throw hits left right and centre. Sadly one of these attempts lead to the blowout that set up the Flames’ third goal.
  • If Bickell is struggling right now, then more and more people are starting to question what it is, exactly, that Kris Versteeg is supposed to be doing? He was promoted to the 2nd line for some reason that’s not entirely clear, and continued to attempt drop passes and cute cross ice flicks that inevitably get turned over. Nice pass from behind the net to find Kane for his goal but there was a huge element of good fortune to that.
  • Hossa, Sharp and Toews were their usual selves.  Hossa got a shortie (although he really should have scored on the 2-on-1 breakaway immediately beforehand) and a Sharp scored after some nice work by Toews. That said, I feel that the time has  come to break this line up and spread the wealth more evenly.  Putting Kane & Toews together would go some way to getting both back on top of their game.
  • Both starting goalies got the hook last night, which tells you all you need to know about what sort of game it was. Raanta would like at least two of those back, especially Bouma’s specualtaive shot that somehow bounced into the net.
  • Ben Smith and Marcus Kruger and, yes, even Brandon Bollig were a thorn in Calgary’s side all night. This is the sort of slow, shot-blocking, physical side against which they are most effective. Smith scored a goal that, in all honesty, had no business going in the net, but they all count, right?
  • Q seems to be of the opinion that the solution to breaking players out of slumps is to bench them. Bickell saw 5 shifts across the last two periods and Shaw didn’t get much more time.  If the team were winning then you could argue it’s worth. They’re not winning.
  • Powerplay was rubbish, giving up a shorthanded goal and failing to score on their one opportunity. The PK looked a little wobbly too, possibly as they adjust to not having Handzus there. However, they dealt with both Calgary powerplays, so no complaints.
  • Another OT loss.. the Hawks now lead the league in non-regulation losses with 13. While that means they’re picking up points, its also an undesirable title to hold.  The seven straight OT losses are a fluke rather than an indication of something to be fixed, but it’d be nice to get one, right guys?

Vancouver are up next, which is sure to be fun, and thereafter it’s the three Californians in their backyards. Shit, as they say, is about to get real.