The Chicago Blackhawks were looking to extend a 5-game win streak to 6 games. The Vancouver Canucks came into the United Center with other thoughts. Here are my 5 Thoughts on the 3-2 overtime loss.
1 – No country for slow starts.
The Chicago Blackhawks must have thought the game had a start time of 7:50 pm. Their opening effort lacked the urgency one would expect from a team trying to claw its way into the playoffs. Despite their lethargic start, the ‘Hawks managed to end the first period on top 1-0, thanks to a power play goal at the 19:25 mark.
If the first period was lackluster, the second period was even worse, with the ‘Hawks cranking out a whopping 4 shots on goal. With this lack of effort, the Vancouver Canucks managed to pull ahead 2-1 with a goal just seconds into their power play and another where the ‘Hawks failed to notice a streaking Marcus Granlund, who sneaked in on a line change to swipe in a rebound.
Sometimes this Blackhawks team falls back into some bad habits. We wanted to hope they had shed the slow start syndrome. But there it was.
2 – Patrick Kane scores 100 points.
Kane is having a stellar season but has gone “relatively cold” lately with only a point per game pace. This has coincided with his placement on the 3rd line with Artem Anisimov and Dominik Kahun. By the 3rd period, Kane found himself slotted in on both the first and second lines. Spreading the scoring over three lines for balance is smart, but maybe not so smart when it comes to holding back your top player.
3 – Crawford continues to shine.
came into this game with a ridiculous .975 save percentage over the last 4 games. In his effort against the Canucks, he stopped 31 of 34 shots for a solid .912 save percentage. Of those 31 saves, several were of the high-quality variety. Just ask Canucks forward
, who had multiple high-danger scoring chances against Crawford. Here’s one of Crawford’s stops on Eriksson.
Crawford also came up big on stopping the dangerous
on a breakaway. Take a look and enjoy.
The big take away is that Crawford has regained his form very quickly after looking a bit rusty at first in his return from another concussion. You have to feel happy for him, seeing him healthy once again.
4 – Erik does Gustafsson things.
Erik Gustafsson is a very polarizing player. You have to love the offense he brings to both 5-on-5 and the power play. He did it once again against the Canucks by tying the score with only 3:13 remaining in the game. This was his 14th goal of the season, and it put him 1 goal shy of hitting the 15 goal mark, last reached by a ‘Hawks defenseman since Phil Housely in 2001-02.
But the flipside of Gustafsson is his defense. While he has improved recently, he once again played the matador in overtime, allowing Bo Horvat to float in to score the game-winning goal.
This double edged sword in Gustafsson is not of Excaliber’s caliber. He needs to be better.
5 – The chances of a wildcard berth just got slimmer.
The Chicago Blackhawks have had quite the turnaround in the second half of the season. They’ve even gotten themselves into the wildcard conversation. But the overtime loss to the mediocre Canucks netted the ‘Hawks just 1 point to put them 4 points back from the second wildcard spot. The loss also did not do anything to boost anyone’s confidence that this team could magically become a serious playoff contender.
The ‘Hawks have gone 6-3-1 in their last 10 games, but the Dallas Stars and Arizona Coyotes have posted the same record over their last 10 games. These are the teams that sit in the two wildcard positions. So with only 10 games remaining in the regular season, it is very unlikely that the ‘Hawks could overcome either of those two teams. Additionally, the Minnesota Wild and Colorado Avalanche still sit between the ‘Hawks and the two wild card teams. Yes, anything could happen, but at this point, it looks pretty grim for your Chicago Blackhawks.
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So next up, the Philadelphia Flyers come to town on Thursday night. Their physical play will be a challenge for the Chicago Blackhawks, who typically don’t fare too well against hard-hitting teams. The Flyers are also in a last ditch effort to make the playoffs. So perhaps we’ll see a battle of two desperate teams. That is if the ‘Hawks come out to play for 60 minutes next time. Onward.