Got that? Good. Now on to the game the Blackhawks played — wait, stop. You didn’t click on that link, did you? I’m telling you, click on that link. You’ll want to read that news before you have to go through the rest of this recap.
Elsewhere in Blackhawks land, the most frustrating season in a decade raised the standard for disappointment on Thursday night with a 5-2 loss to the Vancouver Canucks, who entered the game with the worst record in the Western Conference AND were playing without their leading scorer.
Scoring first hasn’t resulted in a lot of luck for the Hawks, so it didn’t seem so bad when Vancouver’s Alexander Edler made it a 1-0 Canucks’ early in the first period. Chicago tied it up 51 seconds later when Brent Seabrook’s slapper was redirected slightly by Nick Schmaltz.
It was all downhill from there. Vancouver took a 2-1 lead into the first intermission on a Henrik Sedin goal with two minutes left in the first period. Bo Horvat scored on a breakaway at the 6:59 mark of the second, and Edler scored his second a few minutes later for a 4-1 Vancouver lead. That ended the night for Chicago starter Jean-Francois Berube. Anton Forsberg relieved him and surrendered a goal to Brandon Sutter in the third period for the final Vancouver tally of the game. Matthew Highmore doubled his career goal output with the final goal of the game late in the third period.
Let’s wrap this up.
A rough night for Erik Gustafsson and Jan Rutta
It was far from unanimous approval when the Blackhawks announced contract extensions for Gustafsson and Rutta a few weeks ago. And games like this one explain the opposition to those deals. Rutta was on the ice for three of Vancouver’s goals, Gustafsson two. They got worked over in their own zone on multiple occasions while demonstrating a general inability to get the puck out of their own zone, and then they teamed up to allow Horvat the room for a breakaway on the third goal. They’re the third pairing, so there are going to be mistakes made in the defensive zone. But an outing like this against the 28th-ranked offense in the NHL does not offer much hope about future performances.
Another mid-game goalie switch.
If it seems like it’s happened too often, well:
Out goes Berube, in comes Forsberg. The TENTH time in 75 games the Blackhawks have pulled a goalie for poor play.— Mark Lazerus (@MarkLazerus) March 23, 2018
Forsberg: Six times
Crawford: Two times
Berube: Two times
Ten times in 75 games is just brutal. The Hawks have now given up at least five goals in five straight games. Some soft goals have been surrendered, but it’s not all on the goalies. Horvat’s goal was on a breakaway due to a breakdown between the aforementioned pairing. The fourth goal was a soft shot from the point, but Vinnie Hinostroza screened his goalie, put his hand out like he was going to block the shot and then didn’t. It’s a collective, consistent breakdown in the Hawks’ own end — and in net — that is causing all these goalie changes to happen.
If you thought the Hawks have hit the post an awful lot this season ...
You’re right. After Highmore hit the post in the first period, NBC Sports Chicago reporter Charlie Roumeliotis tweeted that the the Hawks are near the league lead.
Matthew Highmore. Ping. Only Edmonton (54) has hit more posts this season than #Blackhawks (52).— Charlie Roumeliotis (@CRoumeliotis) March 23, 2018
Patrick Sharp hit the post in the second period, too. It’s been that kind of season.
Seven games left. Make it stop.
- Alexander Edler (VAN) — 2 goals
- Bo Horvat (VAN) — 1 goal, 1 assist
- Henrik Sedin (VAN) — 1 goal, 1 assist