by Vince Maranto on 04/09/12 at 07:25 PM ET
Although you can’t really judge a team until the Play Offs are over, when it comes to achievements, this is my take on the regular season. I am going to chop this up into at least 2 blogs. This first blog (part One) will focus on the negative or disappointing aspects of the team and individuals, performance wise. The second blog will end on a high note, looking at the positives.
There is no telling where this team would have ended up in the standings had they have received consistent play between the pipes. We went into the season with Crawford as the #1, and Ray Emery, after his preseason PTO emerging as the #2. I’ll be honest, I felt pretty good about that. I was wrong. The Hawks ended up with a 22nd ranked, 2.62 goals against average. Not good by any means. The statistic which is truly amazing was the inability to not even record a single shut out during the course of an entire season. Could you imagine if Elliot & Halak (St. Louis) were on this team….Hey, it’s fun to pretend. Crawford, who did end up with 30 victories, give him credit there, must continue to CONSISTENTLY perform at the level that he has shown himself to be capable of, through out the Play Offs. Emery played very well at the United Center, compiling a 10 - 0 - 3 record. I don’t care who it is come Play Off time, somebody needs to find the zone.
The good news is that the Hawks were 10th in penalty minutes in the NHL. The had a 10.3 minutes per game. That’s the good news. The BAD news is their 27th ranked, 78.1% kill ratio. For a long while there, most of the goals were going in off of rebounds or past screened goalies. In short, leaving guys in front of the net to do as they will. When the Hawks are aggressive in the PK, going after the puck instead of sagging back, they have had much better success. Players like Sharp, Bolland, and Toews are more than capable of putting in the short handed goal. A good PK can lead to the momentum needed when both teams are at “full and equal strength”.
Where do I begin. OK, first the numbers. 15.2% efficiency, good enough for 22nd in the standings. Not good enough when 16 teams make the Play Offs. The first problem is winning that all important face off in the offensive zone. The Hawks REALLY miss Toews here. He was leading the NHL (around 62%, if I recall) for most of the first half of the season. Next, entry into the zone after it has been cleared. If you can’t control across the blue line, then you have to dump and chase. It’s that simple. Once the play is set up, don’t be afraid to get the puck to the net. Too many times I have seen a really good scoring chance turned down to try and make the “perfect pass”. Take what’s there. The other team scores on rebounds on their PP’s. go to school on that.
OK, that’s all the negativity that I can take for now. Next blog, the positives. And yes, I do have quite a few.
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