Boy is there a lot to say about this game and a lot of it ain’t very pretty.
This game was an ugly one to say the very least, the Blackhawks had many the opportunity to win this game. It was a game that was a gut check against the best team in the Conference that also is a bitter rival. Not only did the refs deliver solid blows to the Blackhawks chances to win, but they did little to help themselves on special teams. So what happened?
- The Blackhawks outshot the Canucks 45-32. Really the Blackhawks had a mostly solid game, 5 on 5 the Blackhawks had the Canucks on their heels. When the game wasn’t at even strength was where the problems started.
- Going 0-5 on the power play despite having 0:47 of 5-on-3 while the Canucks went 2-4 on their power play opportunities. That was the difference in the game, the special teams separated the two teams. The Canucks got it done and the Blackhawks didn’t. There were two distinct turning points. First the Blackhawks failed to capitalize on the 5 on 3, next thing you know Dowell is in the box and less than minute later the puck is behind Turco. Then a golden opportunity was handed out with 2:59 left in the game with Bieksa off for high sticking and the power play couldn’t get it done even with Turco off for the extra attacker to make it a 6 on 4. When you have the #1 power play in the NHL you need to capitalize even if your opposition is #3 on the penalty kill. Also stay out of the box when you have the #26 penalty kill in the league and your opposition is #2 on the power play.
- Toews was 9-21 (43%) and Bolland was 5-22 (23%) from the faceoff dot. When the guys that take over 2/3’s of your faceoffs are losing that many draws, that is instantly losing puck possession far too often. Patrick Sharp who took the 3rd most draws?Â 3-7 (43%).
- Another bad stat: 7 shots each for Hossa & Kane, neither scored.
- Last but certainly not least there were the refs. Yes it is a cop out to blame the refs, especially when you look at what the Blackhawks failed to do with their given opportunities. There is no doubting the effect of instant deflation a team feels when a good goal is scrubbed out. What really made matters worse was there is clear video evidence proving the refs calls wrong. Brouwer did not come in contact with Luongo on Bolland’s waived off goal. The puck clearly came out of the zone on the Canucks first goal. Were there weak penalty calls? Of course there were, but there are bound to be in any game. Every game is subject to human error and there was more to tonight than was typical but this is adversity and you have to find a way to overcome it, all good teams do.
So what are the positives to take from this game? If the Blackhawks continue to play at the level they can put themselves in good position down the stretch. They had control of the play at even strength. Tonight had a playoff game feel and that is the intensity that will be necessary for the team to grab a precious playoff berth in the hard fought Western Conference. The good news is that the Blackhawks aren’t taking the bait and blaming the refs for this loss. Are they just as frustrated as I am? I bet they are and even more so, but you take that and put it towards winning the next game. This road trip is far from over and every point that can be picked up needs to be as 10th spot is not where the Blackhawks want to be.
Captain Force of Nature watch: Beautiful goal where he outmuscles Malhotra and then beats Luongo five-hole, plus another assist in which he shot the puck off Boynton (yes you read that right) for the 2nd goal.
The past 3 games: 2 G, 5 A for 7 pts and a +3
Duncan Keith plus/minus rating watch: +1
Coach Q face color watch: With all the calls tonight? It was a solid shade of Radical Red.
Postgame quotes from @TramyersCSN:
Brouwer on missed 5 on 3 chance: “That’s a big opportunity to try and put them away and get some separation.”
Toews on bad goaltender interference call on Brouwer: “We’re not looking at that as a reason we didn’t win that game.”