John Jaeckel: A New Vein Of Kryptonite

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They’re big, physical and skilled. And do not shy away when it’s a “men’s league” game like last night.

Remind you of anyone? How about the team that beat the Hawks in the WCF last year?

That was the Kings. This is the Winnipeg Jets, winners of all three of their games with the Blackhawks in the United Center this year, and now breathing down Chicago’s necks in the Central Division.

Some thoughts on last night’s game.

No way you can pin any blame on Corey Crawford. He kept the Hawks in it and I thought played swell as he has all year—held his net well and kept the puck in front of him all night. Not his fault that on one Jet goal, David Rundblad forgot he wasn’t playing in a no-check league and got pushed off the puck with ease, making zero effort to take it back, and Andrew Shaw decided to make a really stupid defensive play to make up for it, knocking Crawford’s stick out of his hands. 1-1, after the Hawks had jumped out to an early lead.

Rundblad. I’ve heard so much rationalization that he’s “getting better” game after game.

The problem remains the same. He’s a defenseman who can’t (“won’t” is probably closer to the truth) defend.

Not just on the first Jet goal but on at least one other occasion last night, he was completely beaten because he was flat-footed and seemed disengaged in his own end. Sometimes he looks good on the rush or manning the point. But does he really make that much of a difference there—to mitigate how terrible he is defensively? Answer, not even close.

It’s time for Stan Bowman to do what good GMs do. Admit his mistake and correct it. Because all GMs make mistakes. Bad ones persist in doubling down on them.

Carcillo.

Ugh. CarBomb.

Yep, we saw his Mr. Hyde last night and there was no need for what he did to Mathieu Perreault. And while I don’t think the Plan B most suggest, Brandon Mashinter, would be any better or even as good in 5-on-5, non-meltdown situation, I’d be open to Stan Bowman making a move to shore up the fourth line. Hey, maybe just go with the guy who seems to do all the things you want in a fourth line winger, and none of the ones you don’t, Joakim Nordstrom?

That said, there’s a lot of “indignation” on the interwebs, including on Hawk blogs, that almost make it seem like that Carcillo’s nonsense is why the Hawks lost the game.

With all due respect, that’s entirely missing the point.

Carcillo is a mess, but he’s also not the reason the Hawks lost last night. The Hawks lost because they were outshot, yet again, an alarming recent trend, beaten around both nets, and stuck on the perimeter much of the night, over-passing the puck.

Credit to Teuvo Teravainen who got his first NHL goal—because he snuck into the high slot and blasted one past Michael Hutchinson. TT is making a case as to his “readiness” that even the hardest skeptics (like me) have to at least consider.

That said, at maybe 165 pounds, Teravainen seems allergic to the boards—for the most part. Much to like about his future though for sure. He makes a lot of smart plays.

Personally, I don’t care if Bryan Bickell got his lunch handed to him in a fight by a marginal NHL player like Anthony Peluso. I like that the Hawks got “engaged” Bickell last night. Because that Bickell is a very good hockey player. It should be no surprise to anyone that Bickell really isn’t a fighter, so why put blame there?

In the meantime, the Hawks are still struggling, folks, really since December 23rd or so—almost a month.

Well, now the Hawks need to lick their wounds, after tipping the cap to a team that so far this year looks like nothing the Hawks want to do with in the playoffs, and look forward to the Stars visiting the UC tomorrow night.

I’ll have a preview.

JJ