There are a nearly infinite amount of words that one could use to describe Tuesday night's performance by your Chicago Blackhawks. Unfortunately for us, this is a family website and none of those words will actually make it to publishing. The Hawks never made it to Minnesota after a layover in Las Vegas, apparently, as they were bested by the Minnesota Wild by a 3-0 count.
Of course, the masses will be going one of two ways. Some will be sprinting to the panic button, while a larger majority will do their best Kevin Bacon "all is well" impression. There are obviously sides to be made for both, but there are two very important points to be made here. Point number 1: It's the beginning of February. Teams have bad stretches. This doesn't really indicate anything about what this team can accomplish. Point number 2 (which may or may not sort of contradict point number 1): This team is in need of at least a change or two, particularly on the blue line, before the trade deadline.
That latter point was glaringly obvious in Minnesota on Tuesday night. The Blackhawks only lost by a 3-0 count, but it very easily could have been a whole lot worse. If not for the play of Corey Crawford, we could have potentially seen something in the neighborhood of six or seven tallies for the home side.
The Wild outshot the Blackhawks 43-24 for the game and held a startling 65-45 advantage in the Corsi department. Mikko Koivu got the Wild on the board after a Blackhawks turnover before Jason Zucker added a second in the first period after having left the Hawks' blue line in the dust. Mikael Granlund added another in the second to essentially seal the Hawks' fate. They did zilch with a few power play opportunities, including one that was ruined by a completely characteristic Andrew Shaw penalty.
There are a number of individual observations, most of which are not necessarily positive in any way:
- Brad Richards hasn't been good for about a month. Is he burning out? Wouldn't be terribly surprising, but it would be concerning.
- Ben Smith and Marcus Kruger each logged over a dozen minutes, while Joakim Nordstrom was at 9:35. It seems like the fourth line is getting consistent minutes that they don't necessarily deserve given that their offensive output is right at about zero. When a team's starved for offense, the best response probably isn't the fourth line.
- Andrew Shaw is very bad, or at least he has been for most of the year. We need to start talking about the legitimate possibility that he's out the door by this summer at the latest.
- Johnny Oduya and Michal Rozsival, particularly the latter, have been horrendous. That isn't a surprise to anyone who has watched this team at any point this season.
- David Rundblad does some really good things. He's still prone to mistakes in his own end, but as an offensive defenseman, you could very easily make an argument that he made Nick Leddy expendable (with the tremendous benefit of hindsight).