CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 12: Duncan Keith #2, Brent Seabrook #7 and Brian Campbell #51 of the Chicago Blackhawks congratulate teammate Corey Crawford #50 who recorded his second straight shut-out in a win over the Colorado Avalanche at the United Center on January 12, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. The Blackhawks defeated the Avalanche 4-0. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
One of the things I'd like to accomplish here, for at least the newbie Hawks fan, is to how to read between the lines of the coverage of the Hawks you'll get through the main avenues. Reading through various game reports, one of my biggest pet peeves popped up this morning.
Let me state that I have tremendous respect for most if not all the beat writers who cover the Hawks. Chris Kuc does great work for the Tribune, Tim Sassone has been excellent for maybe longer than I've been alive at The Daily Herald, Tracey Myers at Comcast is very diligent and thorough, just to mention a few.
Let me also say that I don't consider myself a journalist. I only had a minor in it at Emerson College, that and $2.25 gets you on the bus. I do think bloggers can be and act like journalists, it just depends on how you want to do your work. I don't. I'm just a guy like you, a fan. Being a Blackhawks reporter in this town also means you don't face a whole lot of pressure and scrutiny from editors and readers until the Hawks really matter, like late May when both the Cubs and Sox are awful. So there are hurdles to complete reporting.
However, as you'll see a constant theme today describing yesterdays' Hawks effort as "flat". This bothers me to no end. Whenever the Hawks lose by more than one goal, generally everyone opts for this description. It's lazy and not correct. Any team that loses can look flat, or uninspired, and any team that wins looks the opposite. This especially happens when an opponent comes in to specifically snuff out the speed and energy of the Hawks, as the Flyers did in the 1st period yesterday. When a team traps successfully, most of the game is spent battling along the boards, with consecutive passes difficult to complete. There isn't a lot of flow, and chances don't come in bunches. Hence, the energy in the building does tend to ebb, as there isn't much to get raucous over. But that doesn't mean the Hawks were flat. At least in the first 20, the Hawks worked hard and did their best to combat they tactics Philly was taking. They had 11 shots, some prime chances. Either posts or a desire to see if one could score through Sergei Bobrovsky's intestines kept the puck out of the net, and thus there was no outpouring of energy of a goal scored and the requisite buzz that accompanies that.
There have been plenty of times the Hawks have been flat, and paid the price. The bad acid trips of losses to Edmonton twice and New Jersey spring readily to mind. There have been other times where the Hawks were flat and won anyway, such as the victory over Ottawa. But no one uses that adjective when the two point are gained.
When a team executes such a conservative plan so well, it's not doing anyone any favors by just resorting to the nearest description button handy. When the Hawks lost Game 1 to Nashville last spring, the same lever was pulled. The Hawks weren't flat that night, just the victim of an extremely well coached team executing their plan to perfection. Yesterday was the best team in the league using their size advantage to the hilt to halt any flow. The Flyers lead the league in points for more reasons than their opponents being flat every night. But you'll rarely read that around here, and that's disappointing, because the writers around here are capable of so much more. And you should expect that.
I'll let you know when the Hawks are flat. Yesterday was not one of them.