The Chicago Blackhawks entered Glendale, Arizona with thoughts of climbing back into the wild-card chase. They didn’t think hard enough as they lost 1-0 to the Arizona Coyotes. Here are my 5 Thoughts on the game.
1 – Scoring drought continues.
After scoring an average of 4.5 goals per game in the month of February, the Chicago Blackhawks had scored only 9 goals in their last 5 outings, for an average of just 1.8 goals per game. They continued to sputter Tuesday night by failing to hit the back of the net even once. The ‘Hawks were not able to figure out the Coyotes’ defense for the first two periods of play, as the ‘Yotes clogged up the neutral zone and defended the center area of their own zone very well.
The ‘Hawks were also victims of FOGG, or Fear Of Ginormous Goalies, as they tried too hard to pick the corners of the net to beat 6’5″ goalie Darcy Kuemper. While they managed 12 shots on goal in the 1st period, Kuemper had little traffic in front of him and showed why he boasts a strong .922 save percentage this season.
The Chicago Blackhawks showed frustration in the 2nd period as they managed only 5 shots on goal. Many of their shots were off target, as they tried to shoot where Kuemper wasn’t with his big body. It wasn’t until midway through the 3rd period that the ‘Hawks started to press with more shots on goal. The effort came too late as the ‘Yotes were able to sustain the shut out.
2 – New look forward lines.
Coach Jeremy Colliton shook up the forward lines in hopes of breaking out of the scoring doldrums.
While all four lines had their moments, they all lacked finish. Alex DeBrincat had three scoring chances in the 2nd period that didn’t go his way. Brandon Saad had a whiff on a one-timer. Patrick Kane had multiple shots go wide. Whether it was the grind of the long season taking its toll, or the ‘Yotes trapping defense and FOGG, or bad chemistry from the new lines, the ‘Hawks were just off their regular game.
Lost in the shuffle was John Hayden, who was a healthy scratch. If he doesn’t find ice time now that the ‘Hawks are pretty much eliminated from the playoff picture, we’d assume that his career with the Chicago Blackhawks may be coming to an end.
3 – Corey Crawford, once again.
once again had a solid game, giving up just 1 power play goal. He stopped 28 of 29 shots for a stellar .966 save percentage. In his last 5 games, his save percentage is .925. This is remarkable in that he also played both games of a back-to-back series with Colorado. Needless to say, this is encouraging as we
. His return to form is a key factor in getting this team back to contender status. In his post-game interview, he shows his determination to keep fighting. What a warrior.
4 – Connor Murphy with the physicality.
had a solid game with 3 blocked shots, 4 hits, and 2 giveaways in 18:08 of ice time. His play
in his half season after returning from a back injury. As the game wore on, he ramped up his physical play to tilt the ice the other way. A big highlight was a hit on former Blackhawk
in the ‘Hawks zone.
Panik was having his way a bit too much, and Murphy stepped in to cool him off. This type of physical play is an important component that will be needed in the future. Defense is obviously about protecting your own zone, and that involves separating players from the puck. And it’s fun to watch.
5 – Just not enough to get it done.
Just as the Chicago Blackhawks didn’t have enough to get it done against the Coyotes, the same can be said for the entire season. The ‘Hawks showed flashes through the game of offensive prowess and an improving defensive scheme, but came up short.
The next game on this West Coast swing will be in San Jose Thursday night. The San Jose Sharks have clinched a playoff spot as they sit in 2nd place in the Pacific Division, so this will be a tough one for our Blackhawks. We’ll see what sort of line up Colliton ices for the remaining 6 games. And we’ll see how the players respond to the challenge of the dire situation. Let’s go, ‘Hawks.