From a 3-0 lead to a 3-2, empty net situation, Marc-Andre Fleury was pivotal to the Blackhawks’ win, bringing them to a 4-0-0 record with Derek King.
Let’s be honest: the Blackhawks almost lost the game because they stopped skating and stopped competing. They lost all puck battles and didn’t work hard enough to keep up with the Kraken’s intense pressure. After the first period, the Kraken noticed that they would not win with skill, so they had to outwork the ‘Hawks instead.
They nearly did so, too. Despite coming up with a 3-0 lead in the third period, the Kraken fought back to get to a 3-2 deficit with just under a minute to go. The last two periods were dreadful for the Blackhawks and they only won thanks to Marc-Andre Fleury‘s heroics. Alex DeBrincat earned a Gordie Howe hat-trick, and Patrick Kane did record two points, but this was far from a perfect performance team-wise.
Let’s first look at the mentality of this team. The way they were overwhelmed was something we saw a lot of with Jeremy Colliton, and it I don’t think that it has gone away. The Blackhawks seem to still be unable to withstand the pressure of the opposition. If the ‘Hawks kept playing the way they did in the first AND matched the Kraken’s intensity, this game would have been very different. What happened instead was a near catastrophic collapse.
For example, the second and third period was full of Kraken chances (watch the “Marc-Andre Fleury show” on the highlight reel), and the Blackhawks looked to be turtling (protecting their lead rather than try to score more). The ‘Hawks were dreadful in the faceoff dot, leading to a plethora of Kraken scoring chances on Marc-Andre Fleury. This team didn’t surpass TEN SOG in a period last night, utterly stifled whenever they tried to attempt anything.
This game was a learning experience for the Blackhawks. They really should not have won this game if I’m being honest, Marc-Andre Fleury won the game for them. This brings both positive and negative takeaways, the positive being that they can win games where they were not “in it”, but the negative is that this team nearly lost a game where they dominated the first period, then took the other two off. Marc Crawford and Derek King need to return to the whiteboard and focus more on puck battles and faceoffs, those two areas nearly lost them the game.
Oh yeah, and seven defensemen is not a recipe for success for this team.
The Blackhawks have a lot more to look forward to as they continue their trip to Edmonton, where Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl are still terrorizing the league.