Chicago Blackhawks Aren’t Being Outplayed By The Tampa Bay Lightning

By Colin Likas
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On the same topic, there was discussion online after Game 3 that Chicago’s star players weren’t showing up for this series. Again, just because the scoreboard doesn’t read 10-0 ’Hawks after one period and 3-0 for the series doesn’t mean the guys most counted on have disappeared. Toews was a plus-20 in Corsi differential in all situations Monday, won 18 faceoffs while losing seven and spent time in full-strength, extra-man and shorthanded situations, as he always does. Hossa had two assists and was plus-23 in possession differential. Saad had a goal and was plus-13. Patrick Kane was plus-9 and was tied for second on the team with three individual scoring chances. Duncan Keith was also plus-9 and recorded seven individual shot attempts. These guys aren’t going to score on every possession, and they aren’t perfect. So saying they’re doing nothing is just foolish. It’s more likely, based on what we’ve seen these playoffs and before them, that these guys (and others) will break out sooner rather than later, especially with stats like those just mentioned.

Jun 8, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks center Brad Richards (91) celebrates with teammates Duncan Keith (2) and Marian Hossa (81) after scoring a goal against the Tampa Bay Lightning in the first period in game three of the 2015 Stanley Cup Final at United Center. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

And then there’s everyone’s favorite whipping boy, Corey Crawford. Yes, Crow should have stopped the third Tampa goal in Game 2 and the second in Game 3. But let’s look at every other goal in this series. Alex Killorn’s Game 1 magic trick? Yeah, good luck getting any goaltender to stop that (at least on purpose). The other three goals in Game 2? All deflected at some point before getting to Crow. Cedric Pacquette’s game-winner in Game 3? He was left all alone right in front of the net after ’Hawks defenders watched Hedman dance into the zone with the puck. Callahan’s goal, Crow probably does stop sometimes, but that was still a snipe from a guy who won’t get a ton of credit for his abilities playing behind the Bolts’ strong top six.

So let’s say we take away Tampa’s puck luck on the four deflected goals between Games 1 and 2, as well as Pacquette’s goal that Crow had no chance on due to his defense taking a nap around him. Crow’s save percentage, which is currently .897 after three games, jumps to .976. Even if one or two of those deflected goals don’t get tipped or just get tipped a different way, his save percentage is above .900 — maybe even well above it. Crow hasn’t disappeared, and he isn’t playing terribly. Could he and should he play better? Absolutely, as those two goals from right next to his net attest. But again, the guy isn’t perfect. He needs some help around him, too. You just won’t hear any of this listening to NBC, because nobody is going to bash Mr. Playing While Hurt Ben Bishop (who is sporting a .909 save percentage that also includes some stoppable Chicago goals).

In short, the ’Hawks aren’t panicking, and their fans shouldn’t be either. The team still has its best to display, and some good bounces are probably due its way as well. Even if those bounces don’t come, this team has a history of playing better as a series goes on. There are plenty more stats out there to back that up, and the team itself believes and knows it. So enjoy the play and keep your eyes on the ice, not just on the scoreboard, when making judgements about the ’Hawks.

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