It's been a popular theme lately for the Blackhawks: Play a an inferior team, play badly on special teams, out-shoot your opponent, be unable to finish off scoring chances...lose. Sunday night was no different, when the 'Hawks played a mediocre Panthers team at the United Center, and despite getting 45 shots on Tomas Vokoun, they scored just 1 goal, while the Panthers scored 3 out of 24 shots on Patrick Lalime, leading to a 3-1 loss for the Blackhawks.
It's not really a question of effort right now. In the 1st period, the Blackhawks out-shot the Panthers 22-4, but I'm thinking that it's the quality of the scoring chances that is the issue. There are not enough players on this team that are willing to go to the net and create a screen and wreak havoc, and that's why many of the saves for Vokoun were too simple.
The Panthers grabbed a 1-0 lead with about 8 minutes to go in the 1st when Rostislav Olesz picked up a rebound off a shot from Jay Bouwemeester and fired it past Lalime, making it 1-0 Florida. However, the 'Hawks would answer late in the 1st period, when the line of Burish-Bolland-Ruutu, which was the best of the night for Chicago, did some hard work which led to a Bolland goal. Bolland poked home a rebound with 30 seconds to go in the opening frame to tie it at 1-1. Congrats to Dave on his first NHL goal.
Just 6 minutes into the 2nd, the Panthers would grab the advantage again when, on a 3-on-2 rush, Richard Zednik would take a pass from Radek Dvorak and put a shot past Lalime, giving the Panthers a 2-1 lead.
Late in the 2nd, with about 3 minutes left, the Panthers would strike again, this time on the power play, when Jay Bouwmeester let a shot go that went through some traffic in front and beat Lalime, making it 3-1 Florida, a lead they would hold into the intermission.
The last 20 minutes was really a frustrating sight to behold, the Blackhawks had a couple of power plays that were just brutal, unable to take advantage of chances given to them to get back in the game. There are skilled players on this team right now that just are not executing. There would be no scoring in the 3rd, as 3-1 would be your final.
Not sure what I can say about this team at this point, really. 1-6-0 in December now, four of those losses coming at home, and in my opinion all of these games have been winnable. But, an 0-for-6 power play, 1 goal on 45 shots, etc. are things that get old and pathetic real quick. This team has too much talent to have a .500 record right now. I'm a huge Martin Havlat fan, but he was invisible for this weekend. Robert Lang just looked uninspired. Patrick Lalime needed to make some big stops tonight and he couldn't. Magnus Johansson? Please go away. Martin Lapointe? Retire. Now.
The Hawks are out of action until Wednesday. I just hope they get their heads out of their collective rear ends by then.
SCH Hawks Player Of The Game: Dave Bolland, who picked up his first NHL goal.