Recap: Blackhawks at Flyers
3-1 Loss

  

Photo courtesy of the NHL.com

The Blackhawks strolled into Philadelphia, Thursday night, to face the Flyers in a battle of the middling teams with identical records. Both squads came into this game losing their previous game, and then sitting on those losses for long stretches. The Hawks were shutout Sunday, and the Flyers lost in overtime to the Avalanche on Saturday. Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville rolled out a new set of “damn near nuclear” lines, which lasted roughly 20 minutes. Poor Corey Crawford was wheeled out as the sacrificial lamb, once again, and he faced the Flyers reclamation project Brian Elliott just like the previous meeting these two teams had just a few games prior. As it turned out, not even Eric Semborski could have helped this Blackhawks team.

Here are your starting lines:

Patrick SharpJonathan ToewsPatrick Kane
Brandon SaadArtem AnisimovRichard Panik
Alex DeBrincatNick SchmaltzRyan Hartman
Lance BoumaTommy WingelsJohn Hayden

Duncan KeithJan Rutta
Gustav ForslingBrent Seabrook
Cody FransonConnor Murphy

It didn’t take long for the Flyers to grab a lead which they never lost. Five minutes into the opening period, the Blackhawks had trouble getting the puck out of their zone and eventually Patrick Sharp handed the puck to Jakub Voracek, with a little help from the referee’s skate, at the Blackhawks blue line. For some inexplicable reason, Jan Rutta completely over played the puck and ended up standing three feet from Keith just off the half-boards.  As a result, Claude Giroux was left wide open in the slot without a Blackhawks defender within 15 feet. Voracek fed Giroux for a laser of a one-timer that Corey Crawford had absolutely no chance on.

Less than 10 minutes after the Giroux goal, it was Jakub Voracek’s turn to pick on the Blackhawks. The new kid line of Debrincat, Schmaltz and Hartman got caught running around in their own zone, and Hartman tried to get a head start exiting the zone.  Unfortunately for everyone in white, the puck never made it out of the Blackhawks zone. Shayne Gostisbehere laid a pass right in Voracek’s wheelhouse for a second back side one-timer goal. This disaster of a first period ended mercifully with the visiting team getting out shot 16-12 but, quite honestly, 12 shots was a generous count from the official scorer.

Quenneville wasted no time blowing up lines and marched his mediocre soldiers out for the second period with a whole new set of forward lines.  His tactic gave the impression that he was out of ideas. Even though the middle two lines made little sense, this is what Quenneville rolled out:

Brandon Saad – Jonathan Toews – Patrick Kane
Alex Debrincat – Artem Anisimov – Richard Panik
Patrick Sharp – Nick Schmaltz – Ryan Hartman
Lance Bouma – Tommy Wingels – John Hayden

This second set of lines lasted four minutes, until the Flyers fairly easily increased their lead to 3-0. The scoring play was not really anything special, and the Blackhawks had plenty of defenders back on the play, but the Hawks just looked like they had no fire left in their eyes. The goal scorer, Sean Couturier, easily drove up the center of the ice and abused Keith.  If you watch the replay, Keith has a look on his face like he is completely befuddled.

The lone highlight of the Blackhawks night was a Murphy goal, late in the second period, which was his first as a Blackhawk. Murphy’s original shot was actually blocked and landed right back in front of him.  Luckily for Murphy, Brian Elliott had committed to the original shot and was slightly off his angle. The followup shot surprised and beat Brian Elliott, but that was all the Blackhawks could muster up.  The goal was a smokescreen and virtually useless, because the Hawks were never a real threat to come back.

The third period was a mere formality because the Hawks really didn’t register any kind of serious pressure, and were mentally on the plane ride home already.  As this game wrapped up, the Blackhawks fell to 7-7-2 and 11th in the Western Conference and 23rd overall. The only Western Conference teams worse than the Hawks are Anaheim, Minnesota, Edmonton and Arizona.

Pluses

  • The only forwards that looked hungry enough to score were Saad and Panik.  Saad had eight shots on net and could have easily had a goal, while Panik had three shots on net and 4 hits.  At least someone actually came out to play.
  • Anisimov and Panik both had great possession numbers on the night. Cut me some slack, there was not much to praise from this team’s putrid effort.

Minuses

  • Sharp is hanging on the precipice of being almost completely useless. Moving him up to the first line was a stupid move from the word “go“.  Sharp was playing 4th line by the midway point of the second period and saw the ice only four times in the third period.  Remember, in June, when the rumors of Sharp’s return were swirling and I was furious at the waste of time and a roster spot?  The Blackhawks have no room to bring up a player because they are are dragging around so much dead weight that vultures are circling the team charter. But, sure, I was over reacting.
    Recap: Blackhawks at Flyers<br> 3-1 Loss
  • Sitting Michal Kempny for Gustav Forsling was just sheer stupidity. Kempny had been playing pretty well, as of late. If any player deserved to take a night off, prior to this game, it was Connor Murphy, but in reality Forsling should have just remained in the press box. Quenneville can play coy when the team is playing well, but he is playing favorites with no results.  The fact that Murphy had a decent game was just dumb luck.
  • The Blackhawks were 0-4 on the powerplay again, and one of those was a 5-on-3 for 1:44. As bad as the penalty kill was last season, this powerplay unit is giving that squad a run for their money in futility.
  • I realize that neutral zone face-offs are somewhat over rated but, overall, this team only won 33% of their face-offs. That cannot happen if you expect to win even half of your games.
  • For all the couch experts that have preached about the Blackhawks needing more “hitz”, they actually out hit the big bad Flyers in this game as noted enforcer Tommy Wingels lead the way with seven. Clearly all that “grit and toughness” made a world of difference.

Center Ice Forums Recap: Blackhawks at Flyers
3-1 Loss

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    Jeff Osborn
    Keymaster

    Photo courtesy of the NHL.com Tweet to Gatekeeper The Blackhawks strolled into Philadelphia, Thursday night, to face the Flyers in a battle of the mid
    [To continue reading full post by g8k33p3r click: Recap: Blackhawks at Flyers
    3-1 Loss
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