That's a fact.
A game like last night's Blackhawk loss to the Ducks proves it. In the aftermath of a frustrating outing like that, you want to pick apart what went wrong and find some kind of culprit or explanation. The fact is, there are many, and there are none that encapsulate everything.
Pat Foley and Eddie Olczyk went on and on about the Hawks getting absolutely destroyed in the face-off dot (they did get destroyed).
Post-millenial analytics acolytes will tell you face-offs don't matter.
And the Hawks did outshoot the Ducks by a huge margin.
What I saw? A game much like another recent Hawk loss at home to Western Conference team, the Edmonton Oilers. And I swear, I thought that before I read Joel Quenneville's similar assessment this morning.
The Hawks had a big shot advantage all night, but a lot of their business was forced outside the circles, and the other team's goalie was wired in—as much as he needed to be. Et voila.
Want to see a microcosm of the above? A long stretch of offensive zone possession at one point (I mean, long, where the Hawks not only wore the Ducks out, but wore themselves out) by cycling the puck around the perimeter and not generating a single quality shot. The Ducks appeared content, quite honestly, to allow the Hawks to do it. Hmmmm.
So the old cliches—going hard to the net, net front presence—rear their ugly heads yet again. But they also seem to fit.
Another take. It's just one game but the possession numbers do tell an interesting story. The Hawks three worst possession players last night? The Toews line.
On the flip side, AK72 and Marcus Kruger's line had pretty good numbers. Kruger's line especially, was kind of reminiscent of the great "fourth line" of 2015 last night, with Ryan Hartman in Andrew Shaw's role and Jordin Tootoo in Andrew Desjardins' shoes.
What does all this suggest?
Again, just one game, but the attempt to spread out offense over four lines might be spreading things out too much against a quality team that forces the smaller Hawk forwards outside. Leaving AK72 (pretty much a given) and Kruger's line as is, maybe Joel Quenneville needs to look at reuniting Toews with Marian Hossa (at least) to add an element of road grader, o-zone puck possession—down low and around the net—to Toews' line.
Yeah, that means one of either Nick Schmaltz or more likely Richard Panik, the latest flavors of the month, gets bumped down. But that Hossa guy can still play a little. And winning and controlling pucks in traffic is a big part of his game.
Hey, I don't know anything either, just going by what my eyes and the stats for a couple of similar games tell me. And it all gets put to the test tonight against a less challenging opponent, the Red Wings.
Gametime 7:30 Eastern/6:30 Central
CSN Chicago/Foz Sports Detroit/TVA
I'll recap tomorrow.