Like most Chicago Blackhawks fans, I approached this season with the understanding that this was the first part of the rebuild, and it was going to difficult to stomach sometimes. In order to watch the games, I suspend reality. I pretend like I am an antique hunter or picker trying to find a gem in a junkyard, a brilliant goal, a mesmerizing save, perhaps even the rarest of prizes, a win. A week and a half into the season and I feel like I need a tetanus shot.
The Tampa games played out as expected. The Lightning are champions for a reason and while the Chicago Blackhawks were more competitive in the second matchup, they do not have the talent or depth to skate with a team like the Lightning.
So, I was completely prepared for the outcomes. Besides, I was more focused on the play in goal. Unfortunately, while neither Malcolm Subban nor Colin Delia deserved blame for the losses, their net-minding was less than inspiring.
Oh well, hop over to South Florida and two games against the Panthers. I am ready to go dig in again. The Blackhawks played better. At times they were effective, making smart-simple plays, especially in their end.
They won battles, moved the puck along the boards and quickly exited the zone. Their efficiency led to some partial breaks, odd-man rushes and decent scoring chances. Overall, puck possession has been okay, and their power play has been excellent.
The Chicago Blackhawks are still searching for their first win of the season.
The problem thus far has been two-fold. First, the Blackhawks do not have enough firepower to make teams worry about making mistakes. Outside of Kane, and to a lesser extent Strome the forwards do not possess the skill level to create many high danger chances.
They have a couple of snipers in Kubalik and DeBrincat who can rocket pucks off lateral passes and convert quick rushes, but the rest of the lineup consists of grinders that can muck it up and get the odd dirty goal. The offense does not instill fear. Florida was aggressive with their forecheck. Opposing defensemen were pinching down to the circles, and their cross-ice passes and clearings were almost insulting.
Secondly, the Blackhawks are still very mistake-prone, when they play aggressively the number of misplays increases. It seemed like every time one of their defensemen pinched, they ended up getting beat going the other way.
When they made a bad change or a failed clear, the puck was on the goaltender and the ensuing rebound tussle resulted with it lying in the back of the net. Even the veteran players seemed lost at times. Duncan Keith looked like a snowman on the ice.
Still, it is early, and in each game the team has improved. The search for the first win continues tonight with the Detroit Red Wings.