Blackhawks circus trip recap
Well, the dreaded circus trip in western Canada and California has come and gone, and all in all, it was nothing more than a solid trip for the Hawks. Usually obtaining 8 out of a possible 12 points on a road trip would be considered a very successful trip, but not when you are the Hawks in the toughest division in hockey. It’s reasonable to take into account how poorly played the first two games of this trip went. Let’s jump into this road trip recap.
Oilers Game: If the Hawks want to make it out of the Central this year, they need to put games away against the worst teams in the NHL. Against the Oilers, the Hawks were average at best. Per usual, the second line of Kane, Panarin and Anisimov carried the whole team, and the Hawks’ defensive pairing of Seabrook and Trevor van Riemsdyk fell apart in the face of Taylor Hall. But whatever, the Blackhawks got two points, which is a positive, especially when good teams find ways to win games, right? Oh yeah and Kane got a point again for the 14th time in a row this season.
Flames Game: A quick three-hour trip south and the Hawks found themselves in Calgary, a team that is arguably as bad as the Oilers. Could they take care of business this time? The answer was no. Once again they got outplayed by a team that will be nowhere near the playoff picture. While the Hawks did gain a point in this game from OT, there is no excuse for having played this poorly against a team in the cellar of the NHL. The only positive out of these two games were that Crawford and Darling kept them in the game with their goaltending. However as we have seen before, Crawford was due for a bad outing soon, which would come in Vancouver. Oh yeah and Kane got another point, which brings the streak to 15.
Canucks Game: Simply seeing the disgusting blue and green Canucks jerseys on the ice brings me back to the years when Chicago and the Canadiens’ rivalry was actually a thing, and when my Canucks hate was at its peak. But hey, the Canucks have not really done anything in the postseason as of late, so let’s put that aside. It was a pretty well-played game except for the last five minutes, when Crawford decided that he wanted to see more of the colorful lights go off when the Canucks score at home (which annoyed me beyond belief all night). The Sedin sisters just took over the third period and sent the Hawks away with no points and a three goal loss. Bottom line, Crawford lost the game. Maybe a trip to San José would help things out. And Kane got another point. Streak to 16.
Sharks Game: The annual Wednesday match-up before Thanksgiving in San José usually means some points for the Hawks, and the Sharks were just getting back from a long road trip. With all this happening, the Hawks finally played like a playoff team. Everyone on the roster was playing well for the Hawks, especially the defense, which is a refreshing change of pace. When the Hawks’ D men are circling and moving all over the offensive zone and playing more as offensive defensemen, it’s certain Chicago will have a good night. While Toews led the team in Corsi and created opportunities all over the ice, the defense finally played a hell of a game that the Hawks desperately needed to rebound from the Canada part of the road trip and Kane’s point streak moved to 17.
Ducks Game: Thanksgiving came and went and it was time to return to Anaheim, where I do not think I have yet recovered from the 7 game Western Conference Final from last season. But I sucked it up and turned on the game, saw that the Ducks are trying to bring back the Mighty Ducks logo, and proceeded to fight the urge to throw my laptop at the television during the first two periods. Maybe some of the worst hockey I have seen in a long while from the Hawks came in this game. They could not get possession in the zone, they were making bonehead plays, and they were turning the puck over. Case in point were the first two goals. The first, Kane decided to lightly dump the puck into the zone, where the Ducks picked it off, sent down a long pass for a breakaway and buried it. Then, the second goal consisted of a terribly timed line change that left Trevor van Riemsdyk to fend for himself. That usually doesn’t end well.
But the Ducks just simply did not seem to want to win, as they took a silly penalty and Hossa made them pay with his 4th goal of the season. Then a bit later, with the goalie pulled, Keith went short side and tied it up. In OT, it was the usual rush after rush and the Hawks happened to get the winner from the stick of Anisimov. So after a thrilling comeback victory, I am looking forward to a Hawks vs. Ducks game where it does not give me a heart attack. Maybe next time they meet the Hawks can just win by five. That’d be great. Streak to 18 points for Mr. Kane.
Kings Game: Last game of the trip is in LA and the first two periods saw Kane break the point record for most consecutive games by an American born player with 19 straight games, including a two goal lead for Chicago. All good right? Head back to the windy city with a 4-1-1 road trip? Nah. Jeff Carter put in a huge rebound from Darling 56 seconds into the third. But that’s okay. We should get the win as long as a Hawks defenseman does not turn the puck over in his own zone? Well that is what Seabrook did right in front of Darling and Gaborik tied it. That play probably described the Hawks defensive play so far. They just suck. So once again, Hawks go to OT and of course the Kings do exactly what Chicago did to the Ducks. We lose in OT and head back to Chicago with a circus trip record of 3-1-2.
Couple final thoughts: The Blackhawks defense really needs to polish if a serious contention for the cup is to be made. This can’t be done without Quenneville making the appporiate changes to straighten out the pairings. With Keith back in the lineup, there is no excuse anymore for playing inconsistently. On the offensive side of the puck, other lines besides the second line need to get involved more and contribute to the game. I mean, Toews can only carry the first line for so long before he goes on a drought. Crawford and Darling get a big MEEEEH from me. They played all right, but the rebounds are going to kill them in games. Anyway, solid trip, but things need to pick up if they want to come out of the central. The Wild paid a visit to the Madhouse on Tuesday, and Hawks ended up losing 2-1. Expect more rants from me next week on Chicago’s lackluster play on the ice.