The Chicago Blackhawks were hosted by the Minnesota Wild last night and were humiliated in the third period, giving up four goals. Not to take anything away from the Wild, they played lights out, but the Blackhawks have a couple points they need to address if they want to make sure they keep control of this series.
Plain and simple, the Hawks need Andrew Shaw back. Shaw hasn’t played since game one after he left with a lower-body injury after a hit by Clayton Stoner. Shaw makes his money as a pigeon, taking other players’ trash in front of the net and making it into goals. He had 20 goals this season, mostly from re-directs and rebounds.
Without Shaw, the main presence in front of the net is Bryan Bickell. Bickell has stepped it up this series with five points, three of them being goals in the first two games at the United Center. However, one thing Bickell does not do is play the role as a pest. Shaw does a great job getting under the other team’s skin. He hits often and when he does, he does not hold back. This causes the other team to retaliate and take penalties.
Next, the Hawks need to tighten up on their puck possession. The Hawks turned the puck over numerous times in dire situations. During the game last night, the Hawks gave up scoring chances and odd-man rushes as a result of turnovers. One that sticks in my mind is the one on the power play when a pass went over Duncan Keith’s stick at the blue line and Erik Haula took it for a breakaway. The Hawks have to limit the amount of turnovers like they did in the first two games.
The last thing the Hawks need to address is the fact that they need to attack Ilya Bryzgalov more.
Eight years. It has been eight years since Bryzgalov had recorded a shutout in the playoffs, and he just recorded the fourth of his career last night. In recent memory, Bryzgalov is not known for being a clutch goaltender in the playoffs. If anything, he is known for his five-hole being “humongous big”. The Hawks only had 19 shots on goal in game three, most of which were low percentage.
Is this time to panic? No, but it may be time to put Jonathan Toews back on the same line as Patrick Kane. As we’ve seen in the series against the Los Angeles Kings last year, Kane’s inconsistency was fixed when he was put on a line with Toews and Bickell. I’m not saying Kane and Toews aren’t performing, but it could spark a big game putting those two back on the same line.
All in all, it is not time for Joel Quenneville to push the big red panic button. While it is early, the Hawks just need to address the problems they encountered last night, rest up, and get healthy. If they can do that, they will win this Friday. Until then, play that “Chelsea Dagger”, Chicago.