The Inconsistency Continues
The key phrase this season for the Chicago Blackhawks has been "inconsistency". The Blackhawks are 1-6 in their last seven games and the only victory came against the Detroit Red Wings. They put up eight total goals in what was the best offensive performance from the Hawks so far this season. Now, when watching this game, the players seemed to love it obviously and it looked like this game would have been a huge confidence booster for the team, especially after the Strome hat trick. This team is capable of winning and their roster even proves that and while you could call the eight goal game a fluke, they were truly excellent in all aspects of the game.
After the Detroit game, the Hawks traveled back home to face the Avalanche and the Canucks. We all know how gifted the Avalanche are with all of their star power, but the Avalanche were without arguably the second best player in the league when healthy, Nathan Mackinnon. Mackinnon comes at you with three major skills: speed, playmaking, and his shot and that's a recipe for disaster. He uses his speed to create opportunities for his teammates and to create better scoring chances for himself. Even without him in this one, the Avalanche still have plenty of power on both sides of the puck and they would come out on top of this one by a score of 6-4. Fleury did not have his best performance as it seems like he always struggles against the Avalanche. Right after the great performance in Detroit, the Hawks could not pick up where they left off but we did get to see a little bit of vintage Patrick Kane which is a positive for the team. When Kane is scoring, the team plays well and he had two goals in this one as well as a beautiful patient goal that led the goaltender out of place.
After that loss the Vancouver Canucks came to town. The Canucks have a lot of similarities to the Blackhawks this season including a coaching and general manager change around the same time as the Hawks, which really has put them in a much better spot than where they were before. Vancouver has still had struggles in the past couple of games and it seemed like this was a good chance for the Blackhawks to jump out early on a struggling team. They were coming off three days rest so that was the name of the game early in this one, jump on Vancouver early and often. However, that is not what happened as Vancouver went up 1-0 by the end of the first. The second period has been the Blackhawks best period all year so it would be interesting to see how they came out after the intermission. The Hawks did not score in the period, but they had most of the puck possession in the offensive zone. The Canucks got on the board once in the period which put them up 2-0 going into the third and it was now going to be tough to comeback for the Hawks. Fifteen minutes passed and with five minutes left on the clock, Connor Murphy finally broke the zero on the board and put the Hawks down by 1. Patrick Kane had a nice pass to him which set up a rocket of a one-timer from Murphy. The Blackhawks pulled their goalie with about 2 minutes left but that would not work out as the Canucks scored on a 150 foot empty netter to put the game away. The final takeaway from this game would be to play a complete game, all 60 minutes of the game which is really what killed them in this one and really has hurt them all season. They put themselves in a hole early, then try to dig themselves out of it in the third period and then it becomes too late.
With all that being said about the past three games, the selling at the trade deadline I mentioned in my last article just becomes more and more likely. There will also be a lot of uncertainty this upcoming off-season with contract extensions. I think the question now is how much do the Blackhawks sell at the deadline? Will they look to do a full on rebuild or just a quick retool?
-Jack P. (IG: @jackpolkow / Twitter: @polkowjack)