If you came here to read an obituary on the Hawks 2015-16 season, you’re in the wrong place.
I’m not going to declare this season over or declare this team dead or declare this obstacle too steep to climb. I’ve seen this team overcome too many mountainous hurdles over the last eight years to say that a comeback is not possible.
But what I am going to do is to tell you how that road back into this series will be paved, and the vast majority of its foundation can be laid by simply NOT doing so many of the things that the Hawks did in Game 4.
- They’re not going to get by with a third D pairing of Michal Roszival and Trevor van Riemsdyk. It’s fitting that the game-winning goal came from a turnover of an attempted pass between the two. Pair Keith with Rozi, get TVR with Seabrook, and then give Hammer whatever other defenseman Q decides to dress (pleasepleaseplease give Christian Ehrhoff a freaking shot pleasepleaseplease).
- They’re not going to get by without SOMEONE COVERING VLADIMIR TARASENKO. The guy scored nearly twice as many goals as anyone else on his team in the regular season and over one-fifth of his team’s goals. The time and space he’s been getting this series is just unacceptable.
- They’re not going to get by without their star forwards contributing, namely Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. Neither player has a goal in this series, which cannot happen to the players accounting for nearly 30 percent of the team’s salary cap. That duo will likely skate together in Game 5 on Thursday night. It’d be a great time for them to get on the scoresheet.
- They’re not going to get by if they keep being, well, the St. Louis Blues — or at least the Blues of old. That giant melee at the end of the game showed a level of frustration that I don’t know if I’ve ever seen out of this Hawks team in the last decade. Nothing has me more pessimistic about the Hawks’ Game 5 prospects then watching everyone lose their minds in the final second. Patrick Kane was trying to put Brian Elliott in a headlock. Who was that team?
- Speaking of Kane, they’re not going to get by if he consistently makes neutral zone turnovers off drop passes to no one in particular. I think I counted five by him in Game 4. Ugly.
- They’re not going to get by if they keep taking stupid penalties. Shaw’s penalty with just over two minutes remaining was a killer, but it’s not the first dumb trip to the box made by a Hawk this season. Shaw may not get a chance to display that he learned that lesson, either (more on that in a bit).
As I said at the open, I’m not going to say this team is done, but I can see the edge of the cliff rapidly approaching. Should they lose Game 5, there are going to be a lot of questions raised about this team and you’re probably not going to like a lot of the answers. But that’s a post for another day. The hardest game to win in a series is the one that ends another team’s season. I may not like their chances, but I won’t give up on this team until they’ve officially lost that fourth game.
By now, everyone has likely seen the footage of Shaw dropping a gay slur on camera tonight. He said after the game that he didn’t remember what he said. What’s troubling is that I fully believe Shaw couldn’t recall what he said. That word is so commonplace in the NHL (and just about every other pro sport, really) that people don’t think anything of it when they use it. And that’s a significant chunk of the problem.