The first period was promising. The Blackhawks were generating most chances, they were solid defensively when the Avalanche were on the offense, but at the end of the period the team was down 1-0 thanks to a maudlin goal by Mauldin. (What? That joke was bound to be made, it may as well have been me.)
At the end of the second period we were tied 1-1 thanks to Bickell’s quick release, and I suppose that was the best we could have asked for then. But O’Byrne drove Stalberg into the boards for a paltry 2 minutes in the box, and we should have known then that it was only the beginning of the end.
When the third period rolled around, the Hawks’ bench was essentially rolling 9 forwards. With Scott out of sight it was Jordan Hendry who found time on the second line, and when Winnik went down it was Hendry who was given four minutes for high sticking-- a call that was made only after Winnik had writhed enough on the ice. Fleischmann would capitalize on each of the following power plays to pull the Avs safely in the lead. And even though Toews poked a gimme that Anderson shat to pull the Hawks to within a goal, Thomas Fleischmann struck again to complete his hat trick.
With Crawford pulled and the Hawks with the 6th attacker, Brouwer managed to poke a third goal past Craig Anderson, but with 00.5 seconds remaining in the clock it was too little, too late. The Avs have won all 3 of their games against the Hawks this season, and are one game away from sweeping the so-called defending Stanley Cup Champs.
- I’m no medical expert, but Viktor Stalberg is probably concussed. This wouldn’t be his first concussion, and there’s never a clear timetable for concussions, so you have to believe that Jeremy Morin’s going to kiss his WJC camp goodbye and that first year on his contract will get burned. What can you do? We’re up against the wall with injuries already.
- Patrick Kane will also now probably dress for Friday’s game. I know I don’t have all the details and behind-the-scene information, obviously, but the way the Hawks have handled injuries in the past (Bolland, Kane after Winter Classic, Campbell and his sudden return in the first round of playoffs, etc) makes me suspect they’ll rush him back regardless of his readiness to play.
- So the call on Hendry was questionable. Our PK still had to, you know, try and kill penalties once in a while. It was such a point of pride last season and is, I guess, a good place to start when talking abotu what ails us this year.
- Tomas Kopecky had a couple of really good looks at the net tonight, but heaven help me the man needs a scoring touch. The idea is that you get in front of the net and good things will happen to you. Not to Kopecky, it turns out.
- Saw flashes of Duncan Keith in the second period. I just thought it worth pointing out.
- Somewhere early in the game, the Hawks had nearly 4 minutes of power play time when the Avs committed two penalties in a row, but the Blackhawks didn't capitalize on either chance. I toyed with having a Steve Konroyd moment and tweeting something along the lines of "Remember those power plays later" but, in the interest of generating good ju-ju, decided against it. It didn't help any.
- The United Center was the deadest I’ve seen in a while (granted, I haven’t gone to as many games this season as last year). The first “Let’s Go Hawks!” chant happened early on when Tommy Hawk led the crowd to do it, but the second round of chants would not happen until late in the third, after Toews scored his goal. It was half-hearted.
- As is, sorry to say, the Hawks’ attempts to come back from this game. Or even to take control. Much will be made of how Anderson was solid in net tonight (and he was) compared to his shakiness last Monday, but the Hawks, though they outshot the Avs by a fair amount, barely got any decent shots towards Anderson. A lot of those were probably easy and routine saves to make, and when the Hawks did crash the net, they had no idea what to do around it (see Kopecky, Tomas).
- I know it’s hard to just be okay with this all, but chalk this up-- this season, really-- to growing pains for the Hawks. Our so-called vets are, in reality, young 20-somethings who have just come into their own. Our core, offensive or defensive, have been in one way or another depleted through parts of the season, and we’re still cultivating the depth that we enjoyed through the past few seasons. But the depth is there. Our core will be as well. And even the future leaves us something to look forward to. (Yes, this is my attempt at ending on a positive note. Erm.)