Here are my takeaways from the Chicago Blackhawks’ 7-3 drubbing against the San Jose Sharks.
You get a goal! You get a goal!
The Blackhawks came out of the gate swinging, putting two goals behind Martin Jones quickly. The first one was a shot on goal by Alex DeBrincat that somehow trickled past Jones. The second one was a redirect by Dylan Strome, from a slap shot by Connor Murphy, who picked up his first point of the season. Both goals came within a minute of each other.
As the period progressed though, defensive lapses on the Blackhawks’ end resulted in two quick goals by the Sharks, courtesy of Melker Karlsson and Marcus Sorensen. Two minutes after the Sorensen goal, Dylan Sikura pick-pocketted a Sharks defenseman in the neutral zone, resulting in a partial breakaway. The defenseman pulled Sikura down, but Brendan Perlini, who was also zipping his way to the net, got to the puck in time, burying it past Jones.
The first period did not end well for Corey Crawford. After trying to rush the net in the Hawk’s defensive zone, Sharks forward Evander Kane crashed into Strome, who in turn hit Crawford in the head and caused Crawford to crash his head into the goalpost. Crawford had to be pulled from the game. At his post-game media availability, head coach Jeremy Colliton confirmed that Crawford is suffering from a concussion. There is still no timeline for how long he will be sidelined. Crawford did not finish last season due to another concussion that he suffered on Dec. 23, 2017 in a game against the New Jersey Devils. It took the netminder 10 months to recover from that one, even starting this season on IR. But every concussion is different, so we just have to wait and see and hope for the best for Crow.
All downhill from there
After Evander Kane tied the game early in the second on a power-play conversion, the Blackhawks gave up two more goals at even-strength. Both goals were redirects from shots taken from the blue line. On both goals, the Blackhawks defenders were caught goal-watching, leaving Sharks players (Barclay Goodrow and Logan Couture, respectively) completely uncovered in front of Cam Ward. The third period was not better for the home team. After not generating even one shot on what was then their fourth power-play of the night, the Sharks extend their lead to 6-3. Tomas Hertl completed the Horcrux, making it 7-3 Sharks late in the third. All in all, whatever compete level that we saw from the Hawks from Wednesday and Friday night and during the first period of tonight’s debacle, it was not present for the last 40 minutes of this game.
Another lackluster effort
Aaron Dell, who came in for Jones during the first, was stellar in relief. He blanked the Hawks, saving all 16 shots he faced. Ward, for his part, tried his best to keep his team in this game. But once again, he suffered from the defensive lapses in front of him. He saved 30 out of 35 shots. The Sharks went two for two on their power-play chances, while the Hawks went zero for four. The Sharks also buried the Hawks in shots on goal, generating 43 compared to the Hawks’ 20.
One glaring statistic
The Blackhawks were kept to single digit shots on goal for all three periods: five on the first, eight on the second, seven on the third.
In other news
Late today, just as the Chicago Bears clinched their first ever NFC North Division title since 2010, a report from Dave Isaac of the Courier-Post suggested that the Philadelphia Flyers have relieved Dave Hakstol of his head coaching duties, and have hired former Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville to replace him. Not even an hour after the Tweet was released, Andy Strickland, rinkside reporter for the St. Louis Blues, Tweeted out that Quenneville himself told him that he has not accepted the top job in Philly. At that current time, the Flyers players and coaching staff were still en-route from Vancouver, where they lost 5-1 last night against the Canucks.
As of press time, the Flyers have denied the reports, saying that Hakstol is still their head coach.
Quenneville, of course, spent ten years as head coach for the Blackhawks, leading them to three Stanley Cup wins and ten straight playoff appearances. Quenneville is currently the second-winningest coach in NHL history, notching 890 wins with the Blackhawks, the Blues and the Colorado Avalance.
The Blackhawks now have a 10-19-6 record, good for 26 points. They are currently dead last in the Central Division, and are in 30th place in the entire league. They are also currently 13 points out of the last wildcard spot in the West, with 47 games left in the year.
The Hawks are back at it Tuesday night, when they host a much healthier Nashville Predators, who are currently first in the Central.