Blackhawks fall to the St. Louis Blue 2-4, fall into 3-game losing streak
Jeff Gordon, Columnist for the STL Today, opens his column stating, "Blue's fans are understandably frustrated by their team's failure to climb into the middle of the Western Conference playoff bracket this year." Well if the Blues fans are, "understandably frustrated," how would you say Blackhawks fan are currently? Every week we hear the same thing, Hawks need to have better net minding, better puck handling, better passing, better defense, more stability from the goalies, be more physical... whatever it is we need, it's being addressed but not implemented on the ice.
The first period wasn't a disaster like the last 40 minutes were and I actually have some positives that came from period 1. As a team we were taking shots, and more than our opponent, which we have struggled with as of late, out shooting the Blue 12-10. We were getting off with better passes and shots on goal and ACTUALLY getting rebounds! I say rebounds, did anyone hear me? The Blackhawks actually had enough net minding/puck minding to get a REBOUND. That however, changed during the course of the game.
Sharp showed Chicago that there is still some skills when it comes to shooting on this deflated Blackhawks team as he sticks one top shelf off a break away to give the Blackhawks the lead. It's didn't take long before the Blue tied the game up however, and yes that seems to be a re-occuring theme in these Hawk's games as of late; hawks chalk one up but never keep it up.
Later in the first, Toews causes a turnover and had a great break-away chance on goal. Mason had a great pad save on the shot, however, Hossa got the rebound as he was skating right in front of the net to put the puck in the net behind Mason and put the Hawks up, again; 2-1. The Blues with only 5 minutes into the 2nd tied the game up with a slap shot from the right side of the ice and like I said, this is a re-occuring theme.
The 3rd period began all tied up as the Hawks couldn't respond to brewer's tying goal earlier in the period. Hawks tied the Blues in shots during the 2nd period but against the Blues who lead the NHL in goals allowed in the 2nd period, the Hawks weren't able to make anything of it.
I won't go into much detail because the 3rd period was just a heartache. With only 2 minutes left in the period Q-Stache had on the ice at one point: Toews, Kane, Hossa, Sharp, Keith, and Byfuglien after he pulled Niemi from goal... and we still couldn't score! I don't think there is any team in the entire NHL that could create a better line up than that at the time, but leave it to the Hawks, as of late, to not capitolize on the opportunity.
Niemi was struggling tonight, I don't know exactly what it was, but it seemed as though his positioning was a little off. He looked as if he THOUGHT he knew where the net was in proximity to his body but he was leaving these holes/sides of the net open the entire night. It wasn't a large hole/side, but the Blues were getting the shots in and Niemi wasn't playing the puck at times thinking he probably had the net covered. It was just a rough night over all for Niemi.
On defense, Hjalmarrson had an unforunite turnover in the 1st which lead to an STL goal, but after that I thought he had a solid performance, he had some nice blocked shots by getting in front of the puck with his body or stick, and in one instance actually got control of the puck after his block, which was nice. The defense was getting dominated (physically) and I don't know if it was due to the lack of having big man Byfuglien in the same line-up as before due to a Q-stache line change or what. Blues just had an overall more physical game, not allowing us to clear the puck out of the D Zone or even allowing simple passing.
The Blue's PK teams rank #1 in the NHL and they shut us out cold. Hawks had only 5 shots during our power plays ending with no points on the board. With 8 minutes left into the 3rd the Hawks had almost double the amount of chances than the Blue did (13-7) but once again couldn't make anything of it. The Hawks out shot the Blues, 34-30, which use to be normal but hasn't been the case since the Olympic break. All of these are good stats to have during a game, you would think, but in a 2-4 loss, it really doesn't help our case.
There were certain players who showed us that the skill is there, we just need to some how implement it better on the ice. Hossa's 1v2 which left both Blues defensemen on the ground was beautiful, but didn't lead to a goal. Keith's 1 on 1 performance at the end of the game against Backes was beautiful and ultimately prevented a goal, and once again, Sharp's goal in the first was a very nice shot. So what do we take away from this? The Hawks showed some glimpses of improvement in SMALL areas but when we put everything together as a team, were too minor to make a difference. We need to step this thing up TOGETHER! Hawks play ex-teammate Martin Havlat tonight against the Wild, we'll see how they do tonight.
Thanks for following Windy City Sportz, I'm ChiN8 and we'll see you next time.