Well that was deflating.
And now the Hawks have a serious obstacle course to run. After dropping their last game against a direct playoff spot competitor, the Hawks have to get something out of trips to both Detroit and Boston, on consecutive nights to boot, or face a last six games that will be choppy-seas nauseating.
You won't find a tighter game than the one against the Ducks. Both teams were excellent in limiting space in their own zone and neither goalie had a lot of big saves (though Crawford had more to make than Emery). What decided this game that the big line of Ducks came through, and the defensive pair geared to stop them, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook, didn't.
It is on such margins that games like this are decided.
What's funny is the line Coach Q opted to battle the Trio of Destruction (Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, and Bobby Ryan -- the Toews line) held its own pretty well. Judging by the CORSI numbers, they had the puck more than the Ducks' top line. But they didn't score, and having them joust with the other gladiators in the Coliseum exposed just how thin the Hawks are right now.
Because the rest of the team couldn't threaten.
Sure, Hossa scored off a lucky bounce, but that was it. Against a team that has a newfound love of defending, the Hawks were throttled. The Ducks consistently kept a third man high -- or not deep in the offensive zone to use the parlance of our times -- so the Hawks never had an odd-man rush. When that caused the Hawks to just chip the puck in to the offensive zone, they couldn't outwork the Ducks' defense along the boards. Whatever possession they did gain, shooting lanes were clogged, which led to the Ducks' first goal.
And where the Hawks go from here is anyone's guess. But seeing how easily they were exposed leads one to wonder what they can accomplish in April. Not many teams are carrying a line like the Ducks right now, but more than a few can nullify the Hawks' bottom lines. Hurry up, Sharpie.
-For the Ducks' first goal, the top defensive pairing of the Hawks didn't cover themselves in glory. On a 3-on-2, Brent Seabrook came over too far on Bobby Ryan, who was against the boards and on his backhand. This left a pass open to Getzlaf, causing Duncan Keith to make the same mistake. Getzlaf or Ryan on their backhand is a better option than Corey Perry having an open net to shoot at.
-For the second, they were even worse. Seabrook got horsed by Getzlaf in the corner, and while his pass wasn't perfect to Perry, when Ducnan Keith is just reaching instead of moving to get there, you get what you get. Are the miles catching up with them? One has to ask.