Thursday, February 14, 2013

Ignorance is Bliss - Gripes and Grudges

Any person that has played a sport for any serious team or organization knows that perfection is expected. None of this "just have fun" crap. I'm just as guilty as the next guy, and it stems from playing 4 years of high school football at a highly competitive state football powerhouse from the 80's and 90's. Every play was broken down, analyzed, and critiqued. This has carried on into my adult life, and it's something most casual fans will never understand. This is how college, semi-pro, and professional teams are run, whether you want to believe it or not.

This being said, we are all aware that the Blackhawks are doing very well, but perfect they are not. The Penalty Kill has been out of this world, and the kids have played well. Patrick Kane and Hossa have been dominant, the goaltending has been more than anyone expected, and the defense has been solid from top to bottom. Let's be realistic here, though. They cannot keep this pace up for 48 games in 99 days. It's just not humanly possible. Any number of those highs will flatten out, and honestly, we should all be thankful that they have even maintained the crazy success this long. It's an achievement. Kudos to them!

The point I'm trying to convey here, is that there are some concerns that will need to be corrected or at least improved, if they want to continue this kind of success into May and June. Just sitting back and ignoring the problems until they become game deciding glaring weaknesses is just absurd and ignorant. So this is where I point out the weaknesses, so just click that little "X" in the top corner if you can't handle critcism and you would like to continue to enjoy your ignorant bliss.

The Powerplay
The powerplay this season (18% - 16th) isn't as bad as it was last year (15% - 26th); YET. The problem is that the early season success has lulled people into a false sense of security. The powerplay, in its current state, is not as good as the overall numbers might have you believe. The were able to get power play goals in 5 of the first 7 games (7-26, 27%), which was really great.

The last 6 games is where things have leveled out for the Hawks powerplay. Outside of a few PPGs in a that Phoenix debacle that mites could have scored, they only have 1 powerplay goal. The numbers of this dry spell support this, with the Hawks going 3-27 (11%), including a 1-6 showing against the second worst PK in the league (Anaheim).

The powerplay has been overlooked because the Hawks have been winning, but this will become a glaring issue when the do start to level off. They are dropping to last year's level pretty quickly, and there hasn't been much to be excited about. The two powerplays in overtime Tuesday were downright ugly.

Anyone not named Jonathan Toews (60%) has been pretty terrible, and more specifically Dave Bolland (40%) has been atrocious. The problem with this number is that Bolland centers a line that thrives on puck possession. While his play has been adequate for the second line, he is putting them at a disadvantage right off the bat with his inadequacy. Again, this hasn't bitten them in the ass, just yet, but it could become a problem very quickly.

Now that I mentioned it, Shaw and Kruger haven't exactly lit the world on fire with their faceoff percentages either. Shaw is at 48% and Kruger is hovering around 43%.

The only way I can see this improving is by trade, because there isn't anyone in Rockford that will do any better, and you don't just learn over night. If there were possible Rockford candidates, they would already be playing with the big boys every night.

Now I am, by no means a doom and gloom guy, but instead of breaking their arms patting themselves on the back, these things need to be improved.

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