DENVER, CO - OCTOBER 7: Chicago Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville takes in the action from behind the bench against the Colorado Avalanche during both team's season openers at the Pepsi Center on October 7, 2010 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Marc Piscotty/Getty Images)
I'm still dizzy from watching what the 'Hawks expelled onto the floor like a sick cat in Denver last night, but I'll do my best to wrap up the 7-5 loss to the Avs.
Quite simply, it was the saddest defensive effort they've put forth since ... well, probably before Toews and Kane got here. I'm really struggling to think of one. There were back-to-back losses to the Islanders and Avalanche at home two years ago, back when the Avs were all kinds of awful. But neither one of those involved giving up seven even-strength goals.
Where do we start?
While there's been a lot of hand-wringing over the difference between this year's and last year's teams, believe me when I tell you last year's team would have struggled too if the 'Hawks' best players -- Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook -- continued to redefine "theater of the absurd."
Ibsen had nothing on that pair last night.
Seabs treated the puck like a hand grenade, and Keith skated around like he'd taken some bad quaaludes right before the game. Watch the highlights and see how he's just floating around for the Avs' second and sixth goals. It's laughable.
This has been a trend for Keith for most of the year. But because the team relies on him more than any other player it's damaging. Keith is expected to be dominant for 25 minutes.That's what Norris Trophy winners do. When he's the complete opposite, well, there's some song about being up a certain creek with no paddle.
When Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa went down, we asked for Jonathan Toews and Patrick Sharp to hold up the team. The Captain is doing his part. The Shooter is not. Toews was one of the better Hawks last night, and he's still a -2. But he's skating hard every shift and making things happen, and there's little he can do when his defense is a county fair. Sharp, on the other hand, only showed flashes and went missing for long stretches. The Hawks simply can't afford a patented Patrick Sharp scoring drought right now.
Tomas Kopecky continues to be a waste of my time.
Coach Q is not blameless, either. In a game where he only had 10 forwards, he once again benched Jack Skille and Viktor Stalberg, to prove how manly his mustache is. Yes, they had their defensive flubs, but in a game at altitude when you're shorthanded anyway, this is not the time.
Toews, Sharp, and Brouwer all cracked 20 minutes, so it's no wonder they faded at the end.
Troy Brouwer was excellent. So there's one nice thing to say.
It's sad to me that the story everyone will pounce on today is the pulling of Marty Turco. Let's review: he hadn't played in almost 10 days, and the first 8 shots he saw last night were prime scoring chances. No blasts from the point to get a feel, or weak, bad-angle wristers. All Turks saw were men alone in the slot and crease firing away. I know, you'll point out Crawford saw the same thing and nearly got the Hawks out of a sling. Well, Crawford had played every game up until then, so he had the recency advantage. I sincerely hope that no one lets the Hawks blue line corps off the hook for that debacle.
All that said, the ice surface was pretty much a joke.
How many more times can Q yell, bench, or bag-skate before it loses it's charm?
So now the Hawks get ready for a five-game homestand that will pretty much define the season. Take four of five, everything will look ok. Anything less? Buckle up.