On Thursday night, the Chicago Blackhawks battled the Edmonton Oilers for the second time in three-games. Unfortunately for the Hawks’, it was also the second loss in three-games to Edmonton.
During the opening period there were no goals scored, but the Hawks’ took 15 shots on goal and made it seem like they had the offensive advantage. Much to their dismay, that was far from the truth.
The middle period is where things started to get ugly for Chicago. Just 18 seconds into the period, Edmonton’s Drake Caggiula took a wrist shot directly in front of the net that managed to find its way past Hawks’ goalie Cam Ward. The rest of the period was fairly quiet until the final minute where a puck off the stick of Jason Garrison found its way into the back of the net. The Blackhawks found themselves down 2-0 with just 20 minutes to play.
I’m just going to lay this one out here. The special teams for the Hawks’ played terribly, possibly the worst performance of the season. The Hawks had 18 minutes of a man advantage and still could not find a way to sneak one past Edmonton’s Goalie Mikko Koskinen. Not only did they not score while they had the advantage, but they let up a shorthanded goal. I’m not going to put that goal on just the players because there were four forwards and one defenseman on the ice. The kill didn’t fare much better as they were out on the ice for a total of 21 minutes and let up a single goal. The Hawks’ need to find a way to improve on the specials or there is absolutely no way they can make a deep playoff run.
The third period was more of the same. Bad offense and even worse defense. The Hawks’ managed to let up two more goals and were incapable of scoring just one of their own. The first of Edmonton’s goals in the third period came from Drake Caggiula. Caggiula tallied his second of the night seven minutes into the third with a backhand shot that found a crease and pushed the score to 3-0. Three minutes later, the fourth goal of the evening was scored by Alex Chiasson on snap shot assisted by Tobias Rieder and Leon Draisaitl.
I see two major flaws with the Hawks’ defense. The first is that when a puck is up for grabs in the neutral zone, it seems like they take their time gaining possession which gives the opponents a chance to recover and go on a fast break. The second being positioning. From my point of view it seems that every time an opposing player skates behind the net, both defensemen follow, leaving the goaltender vulnerable and unprotected.
The goalie situation is a tough one. Corey Crawford is a two-time Stanley Cup Champion and a top goalie in the NHL. I understand that he is getting his legs back after a major injury and I’m all for getting him the breaks he needs and deserves, but if Cam Ward is going to continue to give up easy goals, it’s hard to make an argument that he should have the workload that management has given him.
The Hawks look to end their four-game losing streak Saturday night when they take on the Calgary Flames.
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