Playoffs Watch Day 4: Blackhawks drop another “must win” in OT

Eight games.

By Patrick Kane’s own estimation, the Chicago Blackhawks can only afford to lose 10 of the last 33 games left after the All Star Break for a fighting chance to make it to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.  They lost the first of those 10 games in Vancouver Thursday night.  Last night, they dropped the second one in Calgary.

They had a 2-0 lead halfway through the second period.  Nick Schmaltz opened the scoring in the first, one timing a slick pass from Kane.  Vinnie Hinostroza joined in at the top of the 2nd period, scoring the Hawks’ first power play goal in what has seemed to be eternity.

The Flames answered with two of their own in the second, courtesy of Matt Stajan and Johnny Gaudreau.  But Anthony Duclair reclaimed the lead for Chicago 1:40 after Gaudreau’s goal, carrying a 3-2 lead halfway through the third.  But the Flames, with help from former Hawk Michael Frolik and Sean Monahan, completed the comeback in overtime.

The third period was especially brutal for the visitors.  They were almost always playing in the defensive zone.  They were losing draws left and right.  They were losing board battles.  They made costly turnovers.  They didn’t get a shot on goal for the first 13 minutes of the third frame.

And the “pièce de résistance“?  $10.5 million man Jonathan Toews letting up on the backhand which led to Sean Monahan’s GWG in OT.

Calgary native Jeff Glass had a serviceable game for the Blackhawks.  I am not pinning this loss on him.  The defense has to be better in front of him.  Duncan Keith was pretty much sight-seeing on the Frolik goal.  Erik Gustafsson gave the puck to Johnny Gaudreau right in front of Glass.  But on the other hand, lets call a spade a spade.  Jeff Glass is 32 years old.  His story, albeit inspiring, should not be the basis as to why he is starting a MUST WIN GAME.

Anton Forsberg is signed until the end of next season.  He is younger.  He has more upside.  He needs to see a lot of games before Corey Crawford returns to the team.  I really don’t think anyone is thinking about trading for Glass, so the “showcasing” argument is moot.  If the mentality is “we can still get to the dance”, barring back-to-backs or illness or injury (knock on wood), Forsberg should be starting all the games.

So, what happens now?  With the “loser point”, the Blackhawks are now only 5 points out of the second wildcard spot, currently held by the Minnesota Wild.  The Wild and the Colorado Avalanche, two of the four teams Chicago is chasing, lost their games last night against the Dallas Star and the Winnipeg Jets, respectively.  The Los Angeles Kings pummeled the Arizona Coyotes and now hold the 3rd spot in the Pacific, dislodging yet again the Anaheim Ducks to the bubble.  As it stands, Colorado, Calgary and Anaheim all have four points on the Blackhawks.  The Hawks will play Calgary again, this time on United Center ice, Tuesday night.

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