5 Thoughts: Chicago Blackhawks lose to the Columbus Blue Jackets
By Stephen Yatsushiro
3 – A lousy start is that feeling of deja vu.
The Chicago Blackhawks had recently shed the bad habit of starting slow and falling behind in the first period. Unfortunately, this game was a bad case of deja vu. The ‘Hawks spotted the Jackets to an early 3-1 lead due to defensive breakdowns.
Columbus dominated the first period in puck possession, outworking the Chicago Blackhawks in all three zones of the ice.
On the Jackets’ first goal, Pierre-Luc Dubois flew freely into the zone and outworked Erik Gustafsson to roof a shot past goalie Cam Ward. Gustafsson failed to contain Dubois to the outside and weakly waved his stick for an attempted shot block.
Gustafsson needs to add some physicality to his play to push defenders away from the high danger scoring areas.
On Panarin’s first tally, four Blackhawks were mesmerized by the puck carrier behind the goal line. They allowed Panarin to sneak into a soft area to bury the perfect feed from Oliver Bjorkstrand.
Moving forward, the forwards need to keep track of their checks and not allow these types of plays.
The third Blue Jackets goal in the first period was the result of an unlucky bounce of the puck past Connor Murphy in the offensive zone.
The fast break the other way might have been stymied if
could have blocked a pass while laying out, but these things can happen.
This sluggish first period doomed the ‘Hawks from the start. Against a team with better depth, the ‘Hawks can’t afford any lack of effort. They might not be able to match up with every team talent-wise, but they certainly can step up their compete level.
4 – Wakey wakey in the second, nighty night in the third.
The Chicago Blackhawks did manage to step up their compete level in the second period. Part of this revival was due to some shuffled defensive pairings by coach Jeremy Colliton.
The Jackets’ speedy duo of Panarin and Cam Atkinson was a handful for the defense to contain. Varying combinations of Duncan Keith-Murphy, Dahlstrom-Gustafsson, Slater Koekkoek-Murphy were utilized to stem the tide of the Jackets’ offensive onslaught. The ‘Hawks were actually able to climb back into the game by merit of Toews’ lone goal in that period.
But that 1-goal deficit turned back into a 3-goal deficit in the third period. A quick strike by Panarin just 12 seconds into the third period deflated any momentum the ‘Hawks had built in the previous period.
The Chicago Blackhawks managed only 5 shots on goal in the final frame, succumbing to a stifling team defense orchestrated by coach John Tortorella.
5 – The Bob effect and (once again) the defense.
The ‘Hawks managed to out-shoot the Jackets 41-30, but Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky made some stellar saves to help propel his team to the victory.
Here are some of the highlights.
Bob finished the night with a stellar .951 save percentage compared to the ‘Hawks’ Cam Ward’s .833 save percentage. While Ward did let in a couple of goals he’d like to have back, he was forced to make some difficult saves due to the number of high-quality scoring chances the ‘Hawks were allowing.
This once again points to the Blackhawks’ lapses in team defense and shortage of ability from their defensemen. The shellacking in Boston and this defeat both expose the need for the ‘Hawks to significantly upgrade the defensive corps if they want to become Stanley Cup contenders once again.
And as a broken record, this means acquiring one, or even two, top-4 big, mobile defenders. This should be the primary goal for general manager Stan Bowman.
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So next up, the Ottawa Senators come into town for a Monday night tilt. The Senators aren’t on the same level as the Boston Bruins or Jackets, but the ‘Hawks can’t afford to take any team lightly. We’ll see if the team can regroup and show some resiliency with a better effort. Onward.