Zapped Back to Reality: Blackhawks vs. Tampa Bay Lightning Review

Blackhawks fall 2-0 to the Tampa Bay Lightning

It’s not the jerseys, the refs or anything else. It’s simply just not showing up when it counts.
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For a team that has no guarantee of the playoffs, the Blackhawks gave an effort that was not indicative of that. Last season, there was underlying buzzing of what the post-season could bring to Chicago. The only feeling I’m getting for this post-season from the Blackhawks are a 1st round sweep to the hated Canucks if they can squeak in to the 8th and final playoff spot.

The scenario I just mentioned is one of my least desired situations in hockey ever in regards to the Blackhawks, but I see it as a completely likely possibility. This is the last week of the regular season and of the ten available points left to the Blackhawks they’ve already missed out on two. It’s not like the other teams in the playoff hunt have been sliding either, they’re getting it done and winning. With Calgary beating Colorado tonight, the Flames have pulled within a point and Dallas beat Anaheim to pull within three points of the Blackhawks for 8th.

Really what’s the excuse for not showing up to a game in which you need points more than the team you’re playing?  The Lightning were the aggressor in this game and the Blackhawks just couldn’t match them. You would have thought the Lightning were fighting for their playoff lives rather than the Blackhawks. Outside of the Vincent Lecavalier’s power play goal the only really notable event was when he was high sticked in the face and couldn’t return to the game in the second period. That’s unacceptable for the Blackhawks.

They were shutout despite having a sizable 31-14 advantage in shots. The penalty kill allowed a goal just eight seconds after Niklas Hjalmarsson was sent off for delay of game, though didn’t allow anything after. The power play? Did a fat lot of nothing in two opportunities to tie the game in the 3rd. In the faceoff dot, only Jonathan Toews was under 50% at 13-27 (48%), however he took 17 more faceoffs than any other player.

I realize that this isn’t the most upbeat review, but the fact is with the implications of this game, I expected more. I expected more effort and desire from a team fighting for their playoff lives and I didn’t get see it. This season I always have expected this team to rise to the occasion, but most times they fall flat like tonight. To me, that’s been the theme of this season, underachieving. Maybe Patrick Sharp eventually coming back will provide a spark, but that’s a big maybe.

Once the playoffs starts all bets are off, but you have to get there first.

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Box Score:

1st Period
07:56 TBL PPG - Vincent Lecavalier (21) Tip-In – Assists: M. St Louis (64) & S. Gagne (21)

2nd Period
NONE

3rd Period
19:38 TBL EN - Nate Thompson (10) Wrist Shot – Assists: S. Gagne (22) & A. Hall (11)

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Captain Force of Nature watch: -1 and as mentioned above 48% from the faceoff dot. Not the best game from him, but it wasn’t a great game for any of the team.

Duncan Keith plus/minus rating watch: -1

Coach Q face color watch: Brick red all night long.

Post-game quote from @TramyersCSN:

Q on the Bolts’ PPG: “That penalty and how we defended it put us in a tough spot.”

Stalberg: “We had a lot of chances out there and for some reason they didn’t bounce our way.

Toews: “No one makes excuses. But no one wants to keep playing like this, that’s for sure.”

Quenneville: “We need more (urgency). It has to come out with four games left.”

Toews post-game quotes from @BrianHedger:

“Whether you have momentum going into the playoffs or not … we don’t want to keep playing like this, that’s for sure.”

“Once you get to the playoffs, anything can happen — but you’ve got to be prepared for it.

“Regardless of the standings and all that other stuff, we’ve got to be pushing to be a better team.”

One from Brian Campbell: “We can battle to get to some of the areas we’re not getting to right now to score a few ugly goals.”

Post-game video: Troy Brouwer, Joel Quenneville, Brian Campbell, Jonathan Toews, Viktor Stalberg

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