Analysis

Five Thoughts on Chicago Blackhawks’ loss to the San Jose Sharks

By Stephen Yatsushiro
CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 14: Goalie Corey Crawford #50 of the Chicago Blackhawks gets in position to stop the puck in the second period against the Winnipeg Jets at the United Center on December 14, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 14: Goalie Corey Crawford #50 of the Chicago Blackhawks gets in position to stop the puck in the second period against the Winnipeg Jets at the United Center on December 14, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images) /
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After playing two consecutive games with a full 60-minute effort, the Chicago Blackhawks looked to continue this trend against the visiting San Jose Sharks.  That didn’t happen in a 7-3 loss.  Here are my Five Thoughts on the game.

1 – Corey Crawford, we’re praying for you

Crawford left the game in the first period after getting bowled over in his crease and banging the back of his head against the goal post.

It’s hard to have any other thoughts on this game other than hoping that he will be OK.  It was heartbreaking to hear his story this summer about his battle with a concussion, and even more heartbreaking to see this happen to him now.   Our only concern is for his welfare and we wish him a speedy and full recovery.

2 – The ‘Hawks lost steam after losing Crawford.

The injury to Crawford and especially it being a head injury, had to affect the team adversely.  To see him go down and lying on the ice was a chilling sight.  I can understand the emotional shock to the team.  But I also thought that they would have a response for an undisciplined player who was having his way with physical play, and the play that injured Crawford.  Call it old school thinking, but that type of reckless play needs to be policed by the players out there.  I’m disappointed in the team’s lack of response.

3 – The ‘Hawks came out strong with a fast-paced effort but couldn’t sustain that past 10 minutes.

The Chicago Blackhawks came out with their speed game in full swing, controlling most of the play in the San Jose zone.  Alex DeBrincat scored early on at just the 2:34 mark with a snipe that dribbled past Sharks goalie Martin Jones.  Less than a minute later, Dylan Strome deflected a Connor Murphy shot from the high slot to give the ‘Hawks a surprising two-goal lead.  It appeared that this would be the Blackhawks’ night, but perhaps this early domination led to the dreaded complacency.  A team that has struggled as mightily as the ‘Hawks have cannot afford to take its foot off the gas.

4 – The 2-goal lead is the most dangerous lead in hockey.

This statement is usually pertinent later on in a game.  But, the San Jose Sharks came back with their own burst of offense just six minutes after going down by 2 goals.  Erik Gustafsson was the third man to defend against the puck carrier and left Melker Karlsson all alone on his side of the zone for an uncontested snipe past Corey Crawford.  Less than a minute later, Marcus Sorensen worked his way behind the defense to bury a backhander past Crawford.  Both goals were the result of the ever-present defensive breakdowns that have defined this season.  This is a broken record, and it’s beyond frustrating.  So to be annoying myself, here it is again: A team that has struggled as mightily as the ‘Hawks have cannot afford to take its foot off the gas. 

5 – ‘Hawks need to start winning board battles.

Once the Sharks were able to stifle the Chicago Blackhawks’ speed attack through the neutral zone, the game became a question of winning board battles.  The ‘Hawks were unable to win most of these battles and they lost this game in the trenches.  This has been a chronic problem for this team since last season.  It’s not all about speed and skill.  Coach Jeremy Colliton may want to run his team through battle drills in practice to get them more proficient at that aspect of playing hockey.  These are exhausting drills, a punishment even, and the team deserves to be put through them.

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Next. Blackhawks are at point of no return. dark

As Coach Q used to say, “We’re looking for more”.  We’re looking for this team to show us the will to win.  Let’s go, ‘Hawks.

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