We've seen this before in Chicago sports and multiple times from the Blackhawks - let down. While some might find last night to be a telling effort in the negative categories, there again were a lot of positives - but glaring issues for the Hawks continue to be front and center for those of us watching and not playing. When a team, any sports team, has gone deep in the Playoffs, so many years in the recent past, the idea of playing for seven months, only to gain a birth in the post season becomes BORING. As an athlete myself I can attest to this, the year after winning a Championship all I could think about throughout that regular season was getting back to winning another - at least competing for one. After all that's what we play for, to win it all, to be the best - right?
The Blackhawks came out and were dominant last night against the Washington Capitals, they were dominant in every area of the ice, but if it weren't for an ill-fated 5 minutes, they would've prevailed. The Hawks successfully rolled out four lines that all were competing well, battling for pucks and sticking to their successful style of play. Given, they found themselves with a two goal lead late in the second period. Here is where a lot would say there was a "let down" - that the Hawks let off the gas while the Capitals put down the lead foot. Well, that's not what I saw - what I saw was another bad decision from a trusted and veteran defenseman - that defenseman is Brent Seabrook.
I'm a fan of the man don't get me wrong - I find him talented, big and in the past trustworthy - this is slowly starting to change. The last time that I had blind faith in #7 he buried an OT winner past Detroits Jimmy Howard to send us to the Western Conference finals - last year he almost single handedly gave the Kings a game 2 victory with much help from Corey Crawford. After failing to convert on a beautiful back door pass he lost his concentration and made more poor decisions, uncharacteristic errors later in that game. Numerous times late in the year last season I caught Seabrook giving up on pucks that squirted through the crease, pucks behind the net against the boards, or just being stuck in the paint looking around for the forward that's suppose to be there with him. Again last night, I saw him standing there, watching, and ultimately what happened? It wasn't his inability to body up a forward or even play defense - it was his watching that caught him and he watched the puck go off his stick and behind Crow. For what reason he found it necessary to even attempt to move the puck from its current path was beyond me. His body was open to the goal and not the corner while he attempted to play it with a backhand stick position. Where you going to go with it should you actually corral that shot pass Brent!? Back up the slot, where the forward is that's suppose to be on the back post, the one you're suppose to be guarding? I digress and end with my last statement, at $5.8 for this year and next, the decision making needs to be better - my thoughts are mirrored by Q after the game, "There's no reason to go in off the point there in that situation. (Referring to the first goal) We make a bad decision, and it's in our net. Then it's in our net. And it's in our net." I have faith - some faith - that this will turn around for Seabrook. Should it not, expect the front office to really look into a veteran defenseman at the deadline to help ease the transition of Clandening, Dhalbeck and maybe even Stephen Johns next year. Because if I were Stan Bowman, that $5.8 is starting to look awfully large for someone that can't be counted on to act like a veteran and former Stanley Cup winner. Especially with so many clubs looking for veteran defensemen.
Changing gears to something I found awfully enticing last evening, Peter Regin. I'm not going to sit here and say he's the answer to any prayers right now, but he's certainly going to spark some conversations and even better some more competition. That competition is going to be with Jeremy Morin. There is no doubt that when Carcillo does return, he will return to his role as enforcer, battler and all around competitor and that role will be in Chicago, it will be for the entire year - so those who want to remain negative "car bomb" fans, I believe you'll find yourselves lonely on that bandwagon later in the year. So the conversation comes up, who stays and who goes. For the forwards, this talk will circle Regin and Morin until later in the year when Teuvo talks really pick up. But for now it's just the two of them and it's either going to be a nail bitter or it's going to be no contest - here's why.
Jeremy Morin has had the opportunity of a lifetime this year. After begin passed over Kate in the year and during the post season it seems that Q has finally given Morin his shot, but he's not producing anything. It only makes sense to give a kid a shot over Regin out the gate, but it seems the experiment is coming to a close. He's shown very little so far, not even a glimmer of hope. The only things anyone can notice is that he's fast, likes to shoot from the dot after trying to take on a defenseman and can rarely get the puck through the slot when someone is on the rush with him. Quite frankly, still he looks out of place and at times like a chicken with his head cut off - like it's still preseason and HE'S still trying to make the team instead of just playing hockey. I and I'd assume the organization know you're fast, can score goals, but can you help the team win - can you be a Chicago Blackhawk. If no, please move over, there's many that would love to play here. In 11 games this year, he has done nothing, well he has sat in the box for six minutes but that is all. Last night Peter Regin didn't tally a point either, but his experience, talent and overall hockey maturity more than shined through. I noticed Peter Regin, and all attention was in good light. Up involved in the rush, hustling for the back check, going to the net and BATTLING to stuff the puck home. (He almost did midway through the second period) this is one game for Regin, sure the wheels could fall off, but last night was a clear indication to his talent, why the Hawks kept him and it's slowly becoming clear as to why he started in Rockford. The Hawks front office and coaching staff know Regin can fit in here, they know he can play, but they don't know about Morin and owed themselves the look. Morin will be a top six forward someday, but that club is looking more and more unlike the Hawks. Should his production and ice presence continue to slide, look out for the dreadful word "waivers" and should that happen, with Morins talent, don't expect him to stay available for long, let alone him go to Rockford. He's a talented player, he just might not be a Blackhawk - especially in the Quenneville/Toews era.
As the circus trip approaches I continue to find resolve in the Hawks working through their issues now, as opposed to later in the year. The sky is not falling, this season is not over. The Hawks only find themselves four points back in the division and there's a lot of hockey to be played today yet. Look for the most pressing issue on the Hawks minds tomorrow night to be making statements both against a Western Conference Playoff contender and more importantly, their dominance in the Madhouse. Though it's nice to see the Hawks win on the road, they need to return to form in their own building, especially if they're going to continue to give away points to teams like Washington, even worse on nights when the opposition doesn't deserve them.
Have a great weekend Feather faithful!