Chicago Blackhawks Head Coach Joel Quenneville
The deck chairs still look the same.
Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville shuffled around the lineup but the Hawks had the same problems they did before the changes, and the team came up empty Tuesday night in a 3-0 shutout vs. the St. Louis Blues.
The power play is still a dog chasing its own tail. The Hawks don't possess the puck nearly enough for a puck-possession team. When they do manage to possess it, they can't bury the puck. Throw in another lackluster night from Corey Crawford, and you have another ugly loss.
The power play is most worrysome, and yet it's hard not to feel like it'll be the most easily fixed simply because of the talent on it. But it had four chances to create some momentum for the Hawks Tuesday and get them back into the game, but it didn't work. The solution seems simple.
The Hawks have to stop with the forward on the point which is akin to Mike Martz proving how smart he is with a Wildcat formation or reverse. It may work once but isn't a long term solution. If the Hawks had two d-men on their power play points, other teams would have less alleys to clear the puck.
Right now they only have to avoid one guy. If more pucks are kept in at the line, the Hawks wll have more time to set up in the zone. If they increase the amount of time the power play spends in the attacking zone, it's only a matter of time before it starts scoring regularly. The other thing they have to do is stop being so predictable. It's clear to the rest of the league that they're always looking for a backdoor, cross ice pass and those lanes are shut down.
Toews has to start taking the puck to the net hard again and causing a scramble. They need to keep two men high instead of this umbrella which causes one man to be high as the other point man sneaks down for that backdoor pass that isn't open. Two men high will mean more shooting lanes to the net. Power play goals are not pretty, generally. They mostly are just shots from the point that either elude traffic and beat an unsighted goalie or come off the rebound scrambles those shots incur. The Hawks are getting none of those now.
As for even-strength, Quenneville's new lines looked mismatched when they were unveiled in practice yesterday and they played the same today. The Hawks couldn't string together two passes, there was no cohesion and chemisty, and thus couldn't maintain possession. This is not a team built to be a constant puck chasing and winning team. It needs to just keep the vulcanized disk. Only Kane and Hossa on individual efforts were a constant threat. The lines may have required a minor change, and that's a maybe, but this implosion and rebuild wasn't needed and didn't and won't work.
Still, it's a blip in November, and there are many weeks and months to sort out the warts (I believe you lance them). While a three-game losing streak doesn't feel good, it doesn't mean Nero is stringing up the fiddle.
Sam Fels is the proprietor of The Committed Indian, an unofficial program for the Blackhawks. You may have seen him hocking the magazine outside the United Center at Gate 3. The program is also available for purchase online. Fels is a lifelong 'Hawks fan and he also writes for Second City Hockey .