Sunday, January 15, 2017

Blackhawks vs. Wild
3-2 Loss Recap

"I Don't Like What I See"

by Patrick Stankus

After the embarrassment in the Nation's Capital on Friday night against the Capitals, the Blackhawks returned home to The UC on Sunday to face the Minnesota Wild. With both teams tied atop the Central division, and Western Conference for that matter, tonight was proving to be the highlight match up on the day for the NHL. Too bad for the NHL they were up against the NFL Playoffs, so that meant most national "NHL" experts had their attention spans elsewhere. But enough about Skip Bayless, us hockey fans will be more than happy to enjoy a game of this caliber.

All things considered following that horrendous effort against Washington, the Hawks got off to a decent start. That's something I think we'll all take. Remember folks, its baby steps. The Hawks used the energy from The UC crowd to their advantage, and less than five minutes in, Patrick Kane put the Hawks up 1-0. As the period went on, the Wild started to generate some chances, but Corey Crawford had all the answers. In the end, the Hawks outshot the Wild by a 14-8 margin and took a 1-0 lead into the first intermission.

The second period started out very similar for the Hawks. At almost the identical time as in the first period, Patrick Kane scored again to increase the Hawks lead to two. From that point on, it went downhill real quick for the Hawks. Less than a minute later, Anisimov took a tripping penalty, and the Wild wasted no time in cutting the Hawks lead in half. Less than five minutes later, Chris Stewart fired a shot from the circle that beat Crawford to tie the game at two. Credit to the Hawks, they didn't fold, and did fight back as the period wound down. Late in the period, the Hawks had a chance to grab the lead again while on the power play, but couldn't get a puck in the net by the time the horn sounded to end the second period.

In the final twenty minutes the Hawks looked like a shadow of themselves from earlier in the game. The Wild beat the Hawks to loose pucks, out skated them, and wound up getting all the opportunities they wanted. About five minutes in, a loose puck along the boards got past Kane, and found its way to the point. Marco Scandella fired a puck that came off the boards, behind the net, and onto a wide open Jason Pominville's stick, to give the Wild the lead. From then on, the Wild frustrated the Hawks with the trap style play, and never allowed for any sustained pressure. Even with Crawford pulled and a late power play, the Hawks couldn't generate anything and went on to lose the game by the final of 3-2. It doesn't get any easier for the struggling Hawks as they face a quick two game road trip this week in Colorado and Boston.

The Good
  • Patrick Kane was fantastic tonight. He was simply skating circles around the Wild all night. He ended up with two goals and twelve shots in the game.
  • In the second period, Corey Crawford made a huge stop on Mikael Granlund, and generated some momentum for the Hawks. Off the next faceoff, Kane fired a bullet past Dubnyk, and put the Hawks up by two. Amazing how the big save at one end translates to good things at the other end.
  • While the Hawks were guilty of taking their foot off the gas in the second period, the pace of the middle frame as a whole was frantic. 

The Bad
  • Chris Stewart's goal was one Corey Crawford would like to have back. Stewart fired the puck from the left circle and beat Crawford to the short side.
  • Special teams once again were critical for the Hawks in the loss. Tonight the PK yielded a goal to Minnesota on their only power play, while the Hawks power play was 0 for 2. 
  • Marian Hossa had a great chance on a breakaway in the second period, but couldn't convert.
  • The Hawks ended the game with thirty-five shots. Problem is, they had thirty after forty minutes.
  • Corey Crawford was alright in net. He kept the Hawks in the game for the most part. Only one of the three goals allowed, I thought should have been stopped.

The Ugly
  • I hope everyone enjoyed Michal Kempny's turnover, that led to a quality chance for the Wild, as much as I did. I can only imagine the outrage if that had been Rozsival or TVR. Everyone would be out their pitchforks and torches. But its Kempny and he's "still learning the game" so its okay to those people.
  • As much as I'll defend TVR and Rozsival, I really can't do that tonight. They were a complete tire fire in their own end. The icing on the cake may have been the Pominville goal. TVR completely lost Pominville, and left him wide open behind him for an easy goal after the puck caromed off the boards. Stuff like that can't happen. Same goes for Kane when it comes to fumbling a loose puck along the boards.
  • Brian Campbell had 9:03 of ice time tonight, a team low for the defensemen. I don't care how many times he says he's "happy" with his role here, because I don't buy it one bit.
  • Speaking of people being invisible. Nick Schmaltz was invisible in his return to Chicago. He ended up with 8:29 of ice time, only Rasmussen was lower at 7:52.
  • Tonight might have been one of the worst games I've seen Toews play. He didn't record a shot in 20:35 of ice time. I guess the only positive is he was 52% at the dot. Tough times indeed for the Captain.
  • The third period was an absolute shitshow for the Hawks. They only managed five shots in the period and couldn't get any sort of sustained pressure. Frankly it was painful to watch.

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