Not looking good

7327531For the second game in a row, the Blackhawks were badly out-played and have left us fans questioning their desire and work ethic. In Boston on Thursday night, the Hawks were shutout 3-0 and never once looked like they wanted to be playing in that game. In tonight’s 5-2 loss, the Blackhawks looked even worse than Thursday for about 35 of the 60 minutes played against Ottawa, a team that won’t be making the playoffs, and a team that the Blackhawks need to be beating at this time of year.

I’m not quite sure where to even begin trying to explain how bad the Hawks were tonight, but here we go:

  • They came out looking OK through the first 5 minutes tonight, but then proceeded to lose all energy, all effort, and all competitiveness for the remainder of the first.
  • This may have been the worst game of the season for the Hawks’ defensemen. Ottawa torched them multiple times for odd-man rushes and breakaways. If it wasn’t for Raanta, this could have been a 7-2 final, at least…
  • How much longer are we going to watch guys like Versteeg, Sharp, Keith, etc., continue to pass up open looks at the net to try and force a pass through traffic? When you’re down 3-0, you need to shoot the puck as much as possible. This did not happen against the Senators.
  • I am beginning to wonder if Quenneville is losing his mind a little bit. At what point will he see that Bollig and Handzus are bigger liabilities to this team than they are assets? Yeah, Bollig will “fight” now and then (big help that was tonight….not), but he is terrible offensively and just average on defense. Handzus’ only upside is his work on the PK. The rest is flat out bad. Nothing a guy like Morin couldn’t do better.

Maybe it’s that time of year where the playoffs are so close, yet so far away and the Blackhawks are losing focus on the remainder of the regular season. I hope that’s the case, because this effort cannot continue. Multiple times over these last two games have I caught myself saying “they aren’t even trying,” or “this team has no desire to win.” It shouldn’t be that way, not with a team this talented, not with a team this experienced, and not with a team that represents a very proud organization. It’s on Quenneville now to get their heads back into place.

Joel QuennevilleSpeaking of Quenneville, like I mentioned above, his decision making is becoming extremely infuriating. Peter Regin has done nothing but play his butt off since he joined the team by crashing the net, winning board battles, and effectively backchecking the opponents. Yet, Q benches him seemingly every other game in favor of Handzus. Near the end of tonight’s game, it was Regin going hard to the net prior to Seabrook’s goal that may have thrown Anderson off, thus causing the goal. This is what the Hawks need more of, but Regin will probably sit in a sky-box Sunday in Pittsburgh instead. In the case of Brandon Bollig, why Bowman ever gave him a 3-year extension I will never understand. He is not very skilled, he’s a defensive liability, and he makes some bad decisions. In a playoff series, I’d MUCH rather take my chances with someone like Jeremy Morin who can create offense and hustles.

Teuvo Teravainen was not in the lineup tonight after playing in each of the team’s last two games. The Blackhawks still have not hinted one way or another as to what their plan is with Teravainen right now. My gut unfortunately tells me they’ll keep him under 10 games played to avoid using up the first year of his contract. I don’t agree with that move, but I can see that happening.

As a few side notes, Antti Raanta appeared to hurt himself during the first period tonight after falling awkwardly on his right leg. He played the rest of the game, but this is something to keep an eye on. Also, Niklas Hjalmarsson was blatantly kneed by Chris Neil near the end of the second period and looked to be in a lot of pain. He too continued playing, but then appeared to have been held off the ice for most of the third. Hopefully he doesn’t miss any time. Andrew Shaw was called for spearing late in the game and received a game misconduct. By rule, the NHL has to review the incident to determine 130107_gq_trout_awhether or not further penalty(s) are warranted. Lastly, Matt Carey made his NHL debut tonight. Unfortunately for him, it was not a memorable debut. Cody Ceci’s shot from the point in the first period deflected off of Carey’s stick before going into the net past Raanta for the Sens second goal. Then Carey took a bad delay of game/faceoff violation penalty early in the third that led to Ottawa’s fourth goal (a dagger).

With the way the Blackhawks are playing at the moment, I don’t see any reason why the Avalanche couldn’t put them away in just 5 games in the first round of the playoffs. Granted, the Hawks are without Patrick Kane right now, but still.

They better show up in Pittsburgh Sunday night.

Andrew Shaw Gets 3 Game Suspension

Well, just when you thought Brendan Shanahan couldn’t be much more inconsistent with his handling of suspensions, he pulls this out of his hat. Shanahan announced today that Blackhawks forward Andrew Shaw has been suspended 3 games for his hit on Coyotes goalie Mike Smith on Saturday night.

Here is Shanny’s reasoning:

  • It was a charging penalty.
  • Smith was not injured on the play.
  • Shaw has no history of illegal hits.

That kind of makes you scratch your head, doesn’t it? Smith was NOT injured on the play, and Shaw has NO history of suspensions or fines. So is Shanahan saying that if Smith was injured, or if Shaw did have a history that Shaw would have been suspended basically the rest of the playoffs? This is an absolute joke!

In Game 1 of the Red Wings and Predators series last week, Shea Weber of the Predators punched Henrik Zetterberg in the head, and then grabbed the head of Zetterberg and slammed it into the glass as the third period ended. He received a $2,500 fine, which is basically a tiny slap on the wrist. Isn’t the NHL trying to eliminate head-shots? Isn’t what Weber did as clear of a head-shot as they get? Yet all he got was about as small of a fine that the NHL could possibly hand out, and nothing else.

In Andrew Shaw’s case, he skated in behind the net at full speed to try and get to the puck before Smith could play it, but ended up colliding with Mike Smith. If you watch the replay, Shaw had his head down looking at the puck the entire time. When he got to the puck, his shoulder hit the head of Mike Smith knocking Smith to the ice. Smith stayed down for a couple of minutes before getting back up to play the rest of the game. Meanwhile, Shaw was given a 5-minute charging penalty, a game misconduct, and now a 3-game suspension.

After the game, Mike Smith made a statement through the Coyotes PR department that he was “100 percent.” However, Smith was held out of Monday’s practice for undisclosed reasons, and wouldn’t talk to the media. In the NHL, the only time that a player is allowed to avoid speaking to the media is when the player is under “extreme circumstances.” In this case, the Coyotes made it seem like Smith was having concussion symptoms after all even though they said he was “fine” after Game 2. Today, Smith was back on the ice for practice and is listed as a “game-time decision,” leading most to believe that he will in fact play. The bottom line here is that it seems as though the Coyotes have been milking the system the past few days to try and make it look like Smith did in fact get hurt on the play, all in an attempt to increase Shaw’s suspension length. With that said, Brendan Shanahan stated that “Smith was not injured on the play,” and that factored into the suspension of Andrew Shaw. None of this adds up or makes sense.

Here is my question:

Are players now supposed to stand by and simply watch as goalies go to play pucks in behind the net? Based on the suspension of Andrew Shaw, that sure seems like what Shanahan and the NHL want. Players are going to be scared of trying to play pucks behind the net while the goalie is back there with the fear that they might get suspended if they touch the goalie. Basically, goaltenders are now going to have free reign of the area in behind the net whenever they would like.

Brendan Shanahan has handed out a number of questionable suspensions this year, but none of them have puzzled me more than this one. He better have a new job next season, or else there will be a lot of angry people in the NHL.

Here are the replays of Weber’s “head smashing” and Shanahan’s explanation for his suspension of Shaw:

 

Shanahan’s explanation video