The Blackhawks headed to Minnesota, Saturday night, to face the division rival Wild, who were red hot at home. They have gone undefeated at the Xcel Energy Center (8-0-3) in their last 11 games, while the Blackhawks could not seem to buy a win, home or away.
Fresh off his recall from Rockford, defenseman Carl Dahlstrom made his NHL debut, with Jan Rutta being put back on injured reserve. Joel Quenneville started Jeff Glass in net, once again, and re-inserted Lance Bouma on the fourth line.
Michal Kempny, Tomas Jurco, and Patrick Sharp took the night off in the Joel Quenneville Shrimp Cocktail suite.
These were the Blackhawks starting lines:
Alex DeBrincat – Jonathan Toews – Anthony Duclair
Ryan Hartman – Artem Anisimov – Patrick Kane
Brandon Saad – Nick Schmaltz – Tommy Wingels
Lance Bouma – David Kampf – Vinnie Hinostroza
Duncan Keith – Jordan Oesterle
Erik Gustafsson – Brent Seabrook
Carl Dahlstrom – Connor Murphy
The Blackhawks came right out in the opening minutes and turned the puck over, like it was a hot potato. Surprisingly, the turnover was at the hands of one of the Hawks most consistently productive player, Patrick Kane. After the turnover, the Hawks failed to get the puck out of their own end, fo roughly half a minute. That is when Charlie Coyle, from behind the net no less, took advantage of Jeff Glass playing a little sloppy positionally and banked the puck off him into the net. This was just a mere two minutes into the first period.
Less than a minute after the Coyle goal, Lance Bouma made his return to the lineup widely known by dropping Nate Prosser like a sack of bricks, in his first shift. The Wild took exception and ended up taking a double minor. Stop me if you have heard this story before, but the Blackhawks blew their two-man advantage. Shocking; I know!
Not only did the not score on their two-man advantage, but then struggling Brandon Saad took a terrible offensive zone penalty. The Wild, who do not stink on the power play like the Blackhawks, took full advantage of their opportunity. Mikko Koivu redirected an already deflected Matt Dumba clapper from the point past Jeff Glass, giving the Wild a 2-0 lead only six and a half minutes into the game.
Play settled down for the remainder of the opening period and the Wild took a 2-0 lead into the first intermission, even though they were out shot 17-5.
Three and a half minutes into the second period, a questionable Blackhawks pinch by Jordan Oesterle turned into a Wild 2-on-1 going back the other way. Charlie Coyle took the opportunity himself, and beat Jeff Glass off the post and in. At this point, the Wild had three goals on seven shots. Not what you would typically call “ideal.”
The rest of the second period went much like the second half of the first period: uneventful. As a result, the Wild carried a 3-0 lead into the third period despite being out shot 29-12.
Coach Joel Quenneville went the nuclear route, testing the motor on that lineblender, to open the third period. He moved Saad/Toews/Kane together with the other three lines ending up Duclair/Schmalz/Debrincat, Hartman/Anisimov/Wingels, and Bouma/Kampf/Hinostroza. None of these changes made a difference, though.
In fact, Quenneville even pulled the goalie with 4:21 left in the game, which gave then a man advantage for the entire last quarter of the third period, and still came up empty.
Once again, as has often happened this season, the Blackhawks went down with a faint whimper. The rest of February and March are going to be painfully insufferable.
- I guess the fact that the Blackhawks out shot the Wild by more than a 2-to-1 margin (44-19) is a good thing. That didn’t help them in the grand scheme, though, but it sure looks fancy on paper. This gives the perception that the Blackhawks put up a fight. This might have been the worst 44 shot effort I have ever seen.
- With the shots favoring the Hawks so much, the possession numbers also favored the Blackhawks heavily. Every single Blackhawks player was over 50%, with Jonathan Toews leading at almost 87%. Lots of perimeter shots and very few rebounds in close.
- I can’t blame the goals directly on Jeff Glass but when you give one up two minutes into the game, off your back, your teammates might start thinking, “oh no, not again.” An .842 save percentage is not going to help this team. Then again, neither is getting shut out.
- The power play was 0-4. That is it.
- This team reeks of a group that has just given up hope. They spew all the right smoke and mirrors to the media, but their actions tell another story. It is time for Stan Bowman to upgrade his cell phone plan, and get to work.