The excuse was all ready to be dusted off. It started during the game in L.A. and continued all through Tuesday's match against the Coyotes: "The first game after a trip is one of the toughest they'll face."
While i don't usually grab at such ready made excuses, this one seems plausible. But not just for being the first home game after a long trip.
After the Alberta debacle, the Hawks poured so much effort and emotion into the California swing of the trip that there probably was going to be a letdown. You can't just come out with that vinegar every game of 82. The Hawks were for once just flat.
But effort level or emotion doesn't cover it all. The Coyotes came in and played a perfect road game, and it showed what the Hawks will struggle with in the future.
When teams force the Hawks to play an ugly game, especially here at home, they lack the furious fore-checkers to retrieve in the offensive zone. Not helping matters is that Mike Smith is one of the better puck-handling goalies ...