Prior to the Chicago Blackhawks’ six-game road trip, I wrote a post wondering if Blackhawks had turned a corner or if their five-game winning streak it was enjoying at that time was more deception. It seems it was the latter.
The Chicago Blackhawks have dug themselves a bit of a hole, losing the first two games of their six-game road trip by a cumulative score of 8-1. Here are my five thoughts from last night’s game.
20 minutes is not enough
Too often this season the team has failed to put together three solid periods, and last night was no exception. The game was essentially lost in the first period when the team came out flat, and this time Corey Crawford could not bail them out. Sure, they fired 20-something shots in the second period, but it was too little, too late.
Atrocious officiating continues
The only thing more embarrassing than the play of the Blackhawks in the first period was the poor officiating throughout the game. I won’t get into details, but needless to say, NHL officiating has been horrendous on too many occasions in this campaign and the NHL needs to address it.
Calling out Coach Q
In the second intermission, ex-Blackhawks player turned commentator Eddie Olczyk referred to Chicago coach Joel Quenneville as the best in the business. I must respectfully disagree.
Perhaps at one point in his long career, but his roster decisions and lineup choices leave a lot to be desired these days. I can understand Q’s loyalty to Patrick Sharp and that he wanted to get him back in the lineup after he was deservedly benched in the previous game, but inserting the struggling winger on the first line made no sense.
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Also, the team had won five of six games since Vinnie Hinostroza was promoted. Hino’s speed made a difference, and New Jersey is a fast team. Why take him out of the lineup now? Mobile defenseman Michal Kempny was also a healthy scratch. The ‘Hawks could have used that mobility, as they were behind the play and caught flat-footed far too often by the speedy opposition.
This game wasn’t all gloom and doom — there were a few positives from the loss. Patrick Kane played hungry for most of the evening and was rewarded with his 300th NHL goal. Kane is the fifth Blackhawk in franchise history to reach that milestone.
A soul-searching Christmas
I reckon Blackhawks will need to win three of the remaining four games on this trip to salvage something before returning to the United Center on January 5. The good news is that the entire Central Division is having a struggle lately.
The ‘Hawks are still within nine points of the first-place St. Louis Blues and have three games in hand. The Blackhawks begin their Christmas break on a rather sour note, and I imagine there will be some soul-searching going on in Chicago. The team resumes this road trip in Vancouver on Thursday.