Blackhawks News

Chicago Blackhawks: 5 Takeaways From The First Two 2015 Games

By Gail Kauchak
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Jan 4, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks celebrate winning following the overtime period against the Dallas Stars at the United Center. Chicago won 5-4 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

I don’t know about you, but I was ready to watch the Chicago Blackhawks game last night.  The Hawks hadn’t played since they lost 3-2 to the Washington Capitals in the final minute of the Winter Classic.  This contest took place at Nationals Park to much hoopla and fanfare on New Year’s Day.   But that was 4 whole days ago!  The party’s over now, and our household was getting restless for another tilt.   Last night the Hawks finally got back to work and hosted the Dallas Stars at the United Center.  They didn’t disappoint, as they came away with a 5-4 OT winner.  Here are 5 takeaways from the Blackhawks first 2 games of 2015.

5.  Power Play. The Hawks were 1 for 6 on the power play against the Caps, with the lone PP goal coming from Patrick Sharp.  They even had a 5 on 3 for 91 seconds in the second period in which they were unable to capitalize.  They have to do better than that.  Coach Q was stressing to shoot the puck at all costs.  With the outdoor conditions, the advantage is with the shooter.  So why were they passing so much?

In the Dallas game last night, the Hawks were 1 for 3 on the power play.  This time it was Bryan Bickell at the net, who was able to tip in a Brad Richards shot.  The Hawks seemed to have better movement and pressure on their man advantage chances this game, which is good to see.  But they need to keep it up.  The power play has been an issue all year.  Let’s see how they do going forward.

4.  What’s up with Crow? Before last night’s game, Corey Crawford had been back from injury for 4 contests, and in that span he had given up 9 first period goals.  On the contrary, he only let in 5 goals in the second and third periods combined.  And of these goals, 2 were on the power play, and 1 was an empty netter.   Now I know not all these goals can be blamed completely on Crow.  But he did seem to be a little shaky coming out of the gate since his return.

So when he gave up only 1 goal in the first period against the Stars, this was an improvement. He’s got this under control now, he’ll be strong for the rest of the night, I thought.  But then he proceeded to give up 3 more goals in the second and third (and that miss handle in OT, ugh!), so this blew my theory right out of the water.

I think it’s all mental for Crawford.  I’m sure he feels lots of pressure because of his carelessness off the ice that caused his injury.  The organization made it pretty clear they didn’t tolerate that when they held him accountable and made him talk to the media about it.  And then Antti Raanta and Scott Darling have both been very solid in his absence.

Corey Crawford is getting paid a lot of money.  We all know there will be salary cap issues next year, and Crawford might be worried about his job.  But he needs to get past that and focus on the here and now.  Focus on a run for the Cup.  His save percent average was .929 before his injury, and it’s .891 since.  Let’s see Crow get back to where he used to be.  I know he can do it.  Dig deep, Crow.

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3.  Teuvo. Well, at this point, it wouldn’t be a post without talking about Teuvo Teravainen, so here goes.  Teuvo played last night for the first time this year in a regular season game for the Hawks.  He had 3 shots on goal and 10:50 minutes of ice time.  He started on the fourth line with Smith and Nordstrom, and ended playing on the third line with Shaw and Bickell.  He also spent some time of the power play.

Teuvo got more shifts than I would have expected for his first game.  When asked about Teuvo at his press conference, Coach Q had this to say, “I think he’ll start learning when there’s time and when there’s not time…but I think he wants the puck and he’s around it, and he’ll get even better in those areas.”

Well, TT’s got his first game under his belt.  Now he can move forward and start building chemistry and timing with his teammates.  I’m excited to see how he progresses.