It was a big night for Captain Jonathan Toews ended the Hawks’ two game skid Saturday as Andrew Ladd, Dustin Byfuglien, Brent Sopel and Ben Eager hosted their old team in Atlanta. Toews contributed to every goal in his team’s 5-4 (OT) win over the Thrashers. He has two goals, two assists and netted the first shoot-out goal. With all of the issues the Blackhawks had coming into this game, it was nice to see the face of the franchise finally step up. Patrick Kane scored two goals of his own, and added an assist.
Saturday’s game in Atlanta was more than just the Toews and Kane show. The whole team played with an edge they lost when Marian Hossa went down with an upper-body injury at home to Los Angeles five games earlier. In his stead, role players such as Viktor Stalberg, Jack Skille and Jake Dowell stepped up, but due to the lack of effort from star players, the Blackhawks went 1-3 before Saturday’s win over the Thrashers.
Over that span we learned a few things about how this organization will be run with Stan Bowman as general manager. We already knew from last year that he’ll shuffle players back-and-forth from Rockford to save a dime, but to force Coach Quenneville to field a fourth line consisted of two defenseman centered by a winger in New Jersey was a little excessive. He saved a few thousand dollars by demoting forwards Ben Smith and Ryan Potulny before the game, which they lost in impressive fashion.
Anyways, the edge that the Hawks played with on Saturday was gone by Sunday. They gave up a one goal lead in the third period when the Oilers were able to score two goals fourteen seconds apart. The Blackhawks were unable to return the favor, and handed Edmonton a 2-1 victory at the United Center. Any sort of optimism following the narrow defeat over the Thrashers vanished, and not even Marian Hossa‘s return to the lineup yesterday inspires hope. The issues that surfaced in his absence are still in the forefront.
Management appears to be detached, constantly spewing the tired rhetoric that they are pleased with the state of their team. The players have become complacent, losing yet another game they took the lead into the third period. And for some reason Quenneville continues to pencil John Scott into the lineup over more talented players. First it was Jordan Hendry on defense, and now it’s Bryan Bickell on the fourth line.
Quenneville’s reactionary move is to always meddle with line combinations, but it’s going to take more moving Tomas Kopecky from the second line to the third or abruptly ending a practice session to incite change. Getting this team to play better hockey in their own zone is like teaching a man how to fish. They will win more games as a result, and the other issues become trivial.