These are two nights of hockey I'd like to forget
The Blackhawks took to the nation's capital today, looking to rebound from an embarrassing effort last night in Philadelphia. Unfortunately, they looked just as bad tonight, getting dominated by the Capitals and falling by a final score of 4-1, though the game was hardly as close as the score suggests.
It took the Blackhawks close to half of the first period to get their first shot on goal after coming out quite flat compared to the Caps. After Tom Wilson took a run at Jonathan Toews, VIktor Tikhonov tried to send a message with a questionable hit on Wilson that got him sent off to the box. TJ Oshie would score on the ensuing power play to open the scoring.
It only got worse from there for the 'Hawks, as later Washington defenseman John Carlson scored a goal on an innocent wrist shot form the point that Scott Darling never saw due to an inadvertent screen from Viktor Svedberg. It's the second night in a row that Svedberg got in his goalie's way leading to a goal for the opponent, so that's a trend that's going to have to stop soon.
There was one high point of the night for Svedberg, though, as he notched his first career NHL goal in the third period. However, that one tally was all that Chicago could get tonight. Alex Ovechkin and Matt Niskanen tallied the other two Washington goals to get the Caps to the final scoreline of 4-1.
It's the second night in which the Blackhawks were purely outplayed. These are two nights of hockey that they'd surely like to forget. I know I do.
One, Two, TREE THOUGHTS!
Forward depth not delivering
The Blackhawks are often praised for how deep they are up and down their lineup, but right now they are essentially a two-line team. The top two lines are the only ones getting anything done on the ice, and the second line of Artemi Panarin, Artem Anisimov, and Patrick Kane is really the only one creating dangerous scoring chances. The bottom-six for Chicago is extremely under-performing, in part due to the ridiculous composition of those lines. Teuvo Teravainen's skills are simply wasted on a line with Bryan Bickell and Kyle Baun. Those two guys are big guys who are looking to get bodies on someone; Teravainen is a small skill player looking to make a play. The makeup of that line is just baffling. This is a problem that could be tough to solve until Marko Dano finally gets recalled from Rockford, but for now the Blackhawks are lacking any offensive drive.
Trevor van Riemsdyk is good... again... hopefully
Trevor van Riemsdyk has been a major bright spot for the men of four feathers these past two days. He looked great again tonight, playing sound hockey in all three zones and making smart plays. He looked much more like the TVR we saw at the start of last season, which is extremely encouraging. If he can get back to playing like that and even improve on it, he could become a solid 4th defenseman for the Blackhawks this season and in the future.
Power play woes continue
The Blackhawks power play has been a source of frustration for fans for a few years now. You'd be hard pressed to find a fan who hasn't caught themselves yelling "SHOOT" at their television while watching the Blackhawks. But the Blackhawks biggest problem with the man advantage is not their lack of shooting or constant passing - the fact is that a power play strategy involves a lot of the latter and not as much of the former. Teams aren't looking for a shot, they're looking for the shot on the power play, so passing more is how you find that. But the Blackhawks biggest problem is the pace at which they pass. They're so slow. Nearly everyone stands around, and every pass is followed by a player contemplating if the has the shot or not for a second or two before passing it again. That allows the defense to stay stationary for the most part and readjust quickly when necessary. The Blackhawks need more movement and faster passing if their power play is going to become as effective at it should be with the offensive weaponry they have.
The Blackhawks next game is Saturday night, as they'll welcome Brandon Saad and the Columbus Blue Jackets to the United Center at 7:30 p.m. CT.