Jun 8, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Ben Bishop (30) in net in the second period in game three of the 2015 Stanley Cup Final against the Chicago Blackhawksat United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
Bolts batten up the hatches in front of shaky Bishop
The Chicago Blackhawks had 19 shots in the first period and 19 in the next two periods combined. That’s because the Lightning clamped down defensively in front of Ben Bishop, who clearly is dealing with some sort of ailment. The Hawks had a lot of puck possession and took plenty of shots, but very few of them were of the excellent variety. This was intriguing to watch considering Bishop’s circumstances and also because of how well the Hawks came out of the games to start the game.
There was plenty of activity in the offensive zone, but just not enough pucks finding the twine. Marian Hossa assisted on both goals, Patrick Kane took three shots and had a few more blocked, Jonathan Toews had four shots and was apart of a power play success and Brandon Saad was an animal recording six shots on net and the goal that gave Chicago a short-lived advantage.
Tampa had 19 blocked shots and Victor Hedman blocked five by himself. The Hawks didn’t find enough shooting lanes to challenge Bishop in the latter periods. The possession was there, just not the execution.
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This was another quirky and inexcusable lapse by the Chicago Blackhawks that they’ve shown throughout the playoffs. Andrew Shaw wins the neutral zone draw following Saad’s goal and shovels the puck along the right side to Niklas Hjalmarsson. He tries to backhand a pass along the right boards to Marcus Kruger, but it gets poked out by Braydon Coburn to Tyler Johnson, who skates it along the neutral zone and sends it to Nikita Kucherov on the opposite boards.
Kucherov blazes past Johnny Oduya and shovels a back-handed shot on net that Crawford stuffs, but does not control. Johnson flies in to take a whack at the loose puck, but eventually it’s Palat who finds the puck before Crawford can get a glove on it and pushes it past Crawford’s extended left pad while the United Center faithful was still celebrating Saad’s strike.
It’s difficult to assess blame on this goal. It could be Kruger’s fault for getting beat on the pass despite having position and allowing Johnson to get the play started. It could be on Oduya for clearly underestimating Kucherov’s speed and getting burnt on the outside.
But, the majority of the blame probably should be on Crawford, who played a pretty good game overall. Crawford wears pads that produce a longer rebound in order to buy him time for lateral recovery, but in this case they burnt him. Kucherov’s backhand popped into the air briefly, but just long enough for Crawford to lose sight of it while Johnson and Palat stormed the crease to pounce on the loose puck.
The Chicago Blackhawks dropped a game they likely should have won, but if the Hawks play the same way in Game 4, minus the lapses, they will have a good chance of evening the series.
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