Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Gripes N Grudges, Episode 1 - The Phallac Menace

The Blackhawk nation had a good week to discuss what needed to be done in the last 32 games to make things right, and achieve a decent playoff position. They couldn't NOT make the playoffs, right? Well, we are three games closer to the end of the regular season, and nothing has changed from the previous 50 painful debacles. If no one has found a solution to the peaks and valleys of this team, then it's doubtful that they will, in the last 32 games. Realistically, that's the situation. When all properly coddled and nurtured, the Hawks look like world beaters, and when they are in a funk, they look like dick beaters. The problem is that they look like both world and dick beaters in the same games, and sometimes in the same periods. Nothing has been consistent, or in other words, consistently inconsistent. Did this team rely on Torchetti, Madden, Burish, Ladd, Byfuglien, Sopel, Fraser, Versteeg, and Niemi that much? I honestly still believe they didn't, but this team is doing its best to debunk that theory. So much for all that positive energy I was slinging around pre-camp. I've come to a few conclusions over these 53 games, and most of them are quite negative (shocking, I know).
  • Coach Joel Quenneville. He is NOT the master line combination artist that everyone will try and make you think. He has a quick trigger finger, and meddles far too much, far to quickly. Sometimes lines and players need to fight through their issues, but Quenneville won't let a line though a full period without completely uprooting them. Couple that with decisions like Jordan Hendry and John Scott playing as your forth line wingers, and the mad scientist isn't looking so slick now. These are two guys that can't even get time at their natural positions. I know he can only work with what he's given, but he has had choices. Also, Where is this master motivator? There are times when this team doesn't look like it is motivated enough to beat a mite team...but, hey, we'll always have 2010, right?

  • GM Stan Bowman. Not all of this blame can be thrown at Quenneville, as he can only work with the canvas he is given. The "genius" salary cap man has to eat some of this fecal sammich, too. Some of his decisions have been downright looney tunes. John Scott? Ryan Johnson? Nick Boynton? Fernando Pisani? Ryan Potulny? Jeff Taffe? There were other affordable people out there and he went for the sludge at the bottom of the barrel. Turco was a safe bet at the time, and isn't hurting anyone by opening up the door for players coming off the ice. We know the trades had to happen, so his hand was forced. I'll still take Sharpie over Versteeg, Sopel or Byfuglien 100 out of 100 times. At some point, you can't sit around and watch this team implode, and plunge to the depths of the Western conference. He seems to be content to watch this team sink or swim, the way it is.

  • Defenseman Duncan Keith. Mister Norris Trophy. After Monday night's game, Mr. Keith went on an uncharacteristic tirade, when a member of the media asked him about the problems of the power play, as of late. He replied with the following comment, "Fuck the power play; Nobody goes to the net to score goals". It's hard to shock me, but this did. The problem with this, is that when he proceeded to call out his team out, he should have been pointing the finger at himself, too. Granted, he isn't wrong, but Duncan Deuce has to find a way to get the puck TO the net for traffic in FRONT of the net to matter. You would think he has recently taken stock in CCM the way he has tried to destroy opposing players shin pads. The powerplay is what has kept them in quite a few games, so when that goes dry, you have reason to be concerned, Duece.

  • Assistant Mike Kitchen. Last year the powerplay was average at best, and the penalty kill was pretty damn good, and that won them the Stanley Cup. I don't know exactly which special team Haviland took care of and which one Toch took care of, but neither were futile. This season, Haviland has had the PP running on 12 cylinders, on basically talent alone. The penalty kill was new assistant coach, Mike Kitchen's project. We all know how well THAT went. Pretty damn close to last, if not last, in the league. Some changed were made, and Haviland took over the PK, which has magically functional, again. One would be lead to assume that Kitch was moved to oversee the powerplay, which has magically gone limp. Coincidence? Maybe they miss John Tochetti more than we know. Food for thought.

  • Over the past few weeks, I've heard slight whispers from people who think there is some way the Hawks could bring back Ladd, Sopel, or Versteeg. Anyone who thinks that is even a remote possibility needs to be lobotomized. All of them make $3 million or more, and the Hawks have a whopping $358K of cap room. For all of those that are G.E.D. deficient, that's a difference of $2.6 million. Good luck finding that much to trade away for a role player, and none of those players are going to magically turn back the clock to 2010.

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