The Blackhawks visited Sin City tonight, and what they did in the third period was certainly sinful. That sentence sucked let’s just get to the bullets:
– Overall I actually didn’t think this was that bad of a hockey game on the Hawks part, especially given the lineup Q went with. I will give him immense credit for finally laying his pride down and scratching Jordan Oesterle, but he went two moves too far in scratching Duclair and Hinostroza to re-introduce Sharp and Hartman to the lineup. I understand that something had to be done after yesterday’s shellacking at the hands of an ECHL team, but Duclair and Hinostroza have both been damn near excellent since they’ve been in the lineup. It would have made immensely more sense to swap out Bouma and Wingels, but instead Wingels somehow found himself on the top line and Bouma still got to hold DeBrincat back. My only possible excuse for this lineup construction is that Q is either trying to get fired or really wants to coach Rasmus Dahlin next year.
– To stay on the last bullet for one more beat, part of me wonders if keeping Bouma and Wingels in the lineup, and putting them with good players, isn’t part of a directive from above as they continue to dangle those two in trade talks. You’re not gonna get much for either, but then again Brandon Bollig got you a third round pick a few years ago. Nothing wrong with trying to pump those tires a bit more before you try to sell them. Then again, it could just be Q doing what Q does. Neither would surprise me.
– We know that the defense and goaltending have been major issues, but tonight was another indication of how bad the offense has been as well. CSN had a graphic last night showing how the Blackhawks have scored the least goals in the NHL since January 10, and tonight was another really tough showing for them. They never really got any really good chances, and certainly not as many as they gave up to the Knights. But with another 2-goal game, they’ve managed to score more than a pair of goals just three games since Jan. 10 and just seven times since The New Year. So there’s more too it than just the bad defense and goaltending. However…
– The bad defense and goaltending really proved to be their undoing in this game, and especially the third period. The Hawks took a 2-1 lead into the third, and while it didn’t feel like the most secure lead in the world, it was still a lead. They gave up a PP goal to bring the game level, which I’m willing to forgive them for because the Knights moved the puck really well to open a shooting lane and Glass had two bodies screening him. But then Erik Gustafsson left the whole slot wide open for Reilly Smith to walk in and fire, and the GWG was had. And then to really finish things off, after a turnover in the neutral zone, Glass let a shot by him that he definitely should not have, and any glimmer of a comeback was dashed away. And what’s sad is that, as Sam has pointed out on Twitter over the past few nights, people got so used to complaining about Crawford every time he didn’t completely steal a game for them, that they didn’t even know what really bad goaltending looked like. And this is it, in all its glory.
– John touched on this yesterday, but it bears repeating after his performance again tonight – Alex DeBrincat’s ability to elevate the bad players around him is truly special. He was with Hartman and Bouma for a good portion of the night and ended up with Sharp at times as well. And yet he was able to create some pretty good offense and still found the back of the net after he and Sharp showed a little persistence. It wasn’t the best game overall for Top Cat – his Corsi wasn’t good and he was also the culprit on the turnover before Vegas’ fourth goal – but he’s showing that he’s a special player and he is going to be really good for this team moving forward.
– We’re one step closer to Rasmus Dahlin, folks. Always find the silver lining.