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Chicago Blackhawks

Point The Finger At The Zebras In Blackhawks Loss

Chicago BlackhawksNow Playing: Muse - Absolution

It blows my mind how the referees could have missed that the Anaheim Ducks were playing not only with two goaltenders but with two hockey sticks apiece.

I hope by now you can tell I’ve got my tongue firmly lodged in my cheek, and I’m not blaming the Hawks loss on the officiating crew. However, I am lauding the defensive performance of the Ducks in their win Sunday night in Chicago. They seemed to have lumber in every passing lane the Blackhawks tried, and Jonas Hiller (the “J” is silent) seemed to be accompanied by his identical twin (the one without the silent “J”) in the Anaheim net, especially in the third period.

Don’t worry, the poor performance of the Blackhawks in three of their last four periods of hockey will not be ignored. It is something that needs to be looked at, but not something that should cause any Chicago fans to lose sleep. The Blackhawks just finished 15 games in 26 days, and came out of it 11-3-1. The last two games seemed like a Ferrari in need of an oil change. The Blackhawks are a high energy, high scoring team, and although they are young, a long stretch with very few off days will take a toll on any team.

When a team is tired as a group, it is most evident in backchecking and penalty killing, both of which suffered in the last couple of contests. This manifested itself in historical fashion Saturday against the Wild when they gave up a franchise-record breaking four goal third period lead to ultimately lose in a shootout.

The Blackhawks strayed from what makes them successful and got sloppy on both the backcheck and forecheck. They allowed long passes and clear shots against netminders Cristobal Huet and Antti Niemi, which combined for a heartbreaking collapse and only one point and two losses. They also failed to win key battles for the puck in the offensive zone, something which has fueled their “puck possession” style of play. What is needed most now is balance. The team cannot rest on any success so far, because a great record means very little right now. Especially when you’re now a team with an enormous bullseye on your back.

That is one of the assets Joel Quenneville brings to the Blackhawks. He knows how to manage icetime both in practice and during games, as well as get the best out of talented people over the course of an arduous NHL season. You can be sure that he has looked at the schedule and seen that after hosting Columbus this Thursday, they will be ordering off Hilton’s late-night menu for the next 17 nights. He will have them ready to take advantage of their last United Center date until February on Thursday, no doubt. No reason to break any fingers punching the panic button, no negative trends have developed to be worried about.

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One comment for “Point The Finger At The Zebras In Blackhawks Loss”

  1. We’ve had issues with Hiller too - remember his nickname during last year’s playoffs - “Hiller the Shark Killer”. I hate that guy…..!

    Posted by sharksfanNo Gravatar | January 12, 2010, 10:11 am

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