Saturday night at the United Center, the stage was set for a great matchup. Two Original Six teams, the previous two Stanley Cup winners, were on the ice in front of 22,073 boisterous fans. The game was entertaining, and when it was over the club that made the fewest costly errors was the winner.
Losing 3-2 to the Boston Bruins in a shootout isn’t anything to be embarrassed about, but the Blackhawks fell into a familiar, ominous pattern.
As was often the case last season, when the going was the toughest, the Hawks came up short. For whatever reason, the Hawks didn’t appear as comfortable as the Bruins, who controlled play in the final frame. The Hawks didn’t respond well in the late going and left a point on the table.
During the third period of games in the 2010-2011 campaign, the Blackhawks had 89 goals scored against them. That was the fourth highest total in the entire NHL. Only three franchises, who were all non-playoff teams, had more goals allowed in the final frame. Those clubs were Colorado (103), Atlanta (98) and Ottawa (93).
Teams that give it up in the third period are normally on the golf course in early April, so the Blackhawks were in dangerous territory. To make matters worse, Chicago was also in the bottom half of the league in goals scored in the final 20 minutes.
Although it is much too early to conclude third period difficulties will continue, there is reason for caution. Like last season, there has been a big turnover in personnel. Hopefully since the new acquisitions have more experience they will not fold when the pressure is the greatest.
In hockey the best results happen when everyone meshes. The Bruins exhibited a more complete effort when the game was on the line. The Hawks couldn’t sustain their opening period energy.
The Bruins scored both goals on mistakes. That isn’t a shock as both squads were evenly matched. What is somewhat surprising is how some of the Hawks’ top players were victimized.
Boston’s Chris Kelly scored because of a weird bounce off the glass that led to shorthanded goal. I could write that off as bad luck, although there could have been a better effort by Hawk forwards to skate back after the turnover.
The second Bruin tally was the bigger issue. The Toews line was on the ice and inexperience can’t be used as an excuse. They can all share the blame, but Patrick Sharp got caught watching the puck instead of his man. In total the Bruins deserved the win as they were sharper than the Hawks.
Speaking of having to be sharper… It’s time to reunite Keith and Seabrook. Not to single out one player, but so far this season Duncan Keith has yet to play to his skill level.
To contiue reading click here
Doing a podcast tonight with Chris Block from The Third Man In.com . The show will begin at 8:00 PM CST.
We will discuss the start for the Blackhawks and what we believe will happen in the coming weeks.
Plus Chris will have the real scoop on the nice start for some of the Rockford Ice Hogs.
Follow me on Twitter……@AlCimaglia
Also please spread the word on my Blackhawk page on My Fox Chicago.com
About the Author: