The season from hell continues for these Chicago Blackhawks, falling 5-2 to the Vancouver Canucks.
Canucks defenseman Alexander Edler started the scoring early in the first period. 51 seconds later, a Brent Seabrook slapper was redirected by Nick Schmaltz, earning Chicago the equalizer.
It was downhill from there.
Canucks captain Henrik Sedin scored his third of the year with two minutes left in the first. Bo Horvat and Edler added two more for Vancouver in the second period. That ended the night for JF Berube. Brandon Sutter welcomed Anton Forsberg in relief with a goal in the third period.
Matthew Highmore scored his second goal of the season late in the third. But, much like every other game these Blackhawks have played this year, it was too little, too late.
It was a particularly bad night for the pairing of Erik Gustafsson and Jan Rutta. Rutta himself was on the ice for three of the Canucks goals, Gustafsson for two. Now, I get that they are third pairing d-men, and will be prone to mistakes, especially in such a down season. But the “teamwork” they displayed that led to Horvat’s breakaway goal just shows the kind of work the two still have in front of them to be worthy of the contract extensions they just signed.
Last night was also the tenth time in 75 games that the Blackhawks have pulled a goalie due to poor play. It was second time Berube was pulled. Corey Crawford himself was pulled twice this season. Anton Forsberg? Six times. And not to put all the blame on Berube for last night. It was a collective effort. A consistent, collective effort of breakdowns in coverage and leaving forwards alone in the zone that has led us to where we are today; on the outside looking in as 16 other teams will battle it out for hockey’s ultimate prize.
It is also kind of poetic to point out that just seven seasons ago, these two teams were at the top of the West, waging war through seven grueling games for the chance to play for the Stanley Cup. Now, the Blackhawks are dead last in the Central Division. The Canucks? Dead last in the West. Both teams trying to find meaning in an otherwise meaningless tilt.
Here’s a statistic. Of the 40 players that dressed for Game 7 of the WCF back in 2011 between the Blackhawks and the Canucks, only seven dressed for last night’s game; Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp, Duncan Keith, Seabrook, Sedin, Daniel Sedin and Edler.
The Blackhawks are back at it Saturday night, when the face the New York Islanders at the Barclays Center.