The Chicago Blackhawks fell to the Colorado Avalanche, another West team fighting for their spot in the playoffs. This one hurt, but there’s some good that can come of this loss.
The Hawks play the Avalanche again on Sunday as part of a “home and home”. Because they’re so fresh in the Hawks minds, they can review the tape and see where they went wrong.
One of the main things the Hawks need to do in order to come out on top of the Avalanche is to stay tight in the neutral zone into their own zone. That way they don’t allow easy access into their own zone and can stop shots on goal preemptively.
Eliminating sloppiness is going to be a key factor as well. It’s easy to just dump the puck when it’s the end of your shift, but avoiding that turning into a straight on pass to an Avalanche player could be the difference between a breakaway and a clear.
The Hawks also need consistency among players. Saturday evening, they had a lot of inconsistencies across the board. The only consistent player was Corey Crawford.
Communication to avoid sloppiness, as well as concise passing to avoid turnovers and breakaways will also be helpful to the Hawks. The Avalanche are good on the backcheck and stay hot on their player. If the Hawks give them an inch, they’re going to run with it. So it’s best to do all they can to avoid turnovers. And communication while passing can really help that.
During Saturday’s game, the Avalanche were strong on defense, causing sloppy turnovers during routine cross-ice passing. Talking and staying sharp with the passing could make a world of difference and lead to a strong entrance in the Avalanche zone.
The Blackhawks had some strong looks in the Avalanche zone on Saturday. Erik Gustafsson had a great goal against the Avalanche from the blue line, a great, simple shot. And Dylan Sikura had a great chance after a Patrick Kane forced a turnover, leading to Jonathan Toews’ goal. The team didn’t play terribly, but there are little things that differentiated them and the Avalanche on Saturday afternoon.
Another thing the Hawks can do to change their gameplay Sunday is not taking costly penalties. The penalties taken today were all avoidable. It’s keeping up the consistency of their own game and not being reckless that will eliminate those.
The Hawks need to get a good nights sleep after this game and come out hot tomorrow night against the Avalanche and get these important two points.
Follow Julia Kender at @hawkssjulia for more Blackhawks news and opinion.