It’s always worth pointing out when there’s a vintage Corey Crawford performance, because the man missed nearly a full calendar year because of concussions and the symptoms that followed. He wasn’t quite as busy as other nights, making just 25 saves on 27 shots. But he made multiple key saves on odd-man rushes that kept Chicago within striking distance on the scoreboard. He remains one of the most important players on this team and reaffirms hope this final push for a playoff spot will not be for naught.
With 15 goals this season, he’s now scored as many goals as any Blackhawks defenseman since Phil Housley in the 2001-02 season (we’re excluding Dustin Byfuglien’s numbers here). Defensive concerns remain, of course, but the offensive production from Gustafsson is making up for those shortcomings.
Gustav Forsling’s diving poke checks
There’s an argument to be made that more sound defensive positioning would prevent the need for such a desperate maneuver. But Forsling pulled off this tactic multiple times against the Flyers without drawing a penalty, successfully snuffing out a few prime Philadelphia scoring chances.
It’s one thing to pour on goals when everything is going fine, as Chicago’s power play did in the last 2-3 months while clicking at an absurd rate. But the true mark of a beneficial power play is one that can provide goals in clutch situations, such as trailing by one goal in the third period of a game that a team desperately needs to win to keep pace in the playoff chase. It didn’t happen Thursday night.
Chicago’s playoff hopes were at 20 percent earlier this week, but took a huge hit down to 12 percent following Thursday’s loss to the Flyers, according to calculations from The Athletic. It’s not a fatal blow, as the Blackhawks were facing an Eastern Conference foe and the team currently holding a wild card spot also lost to a non-playoff team. But it was yet another opportunity squandered.
Blackhawks showing up in big moments
Thursday’s loss was the fourth time that Chicago failed to deliver at home in crucial games during the final weeks of the season. The Blackhawks lost a pair of weekend games against the Avalanche and Stars when they were making their first surge into a playoff spot back in February. This week, two home games against teams without playoff hopes were on the schedule, but the Blackhawks again failed to deliver. And if they fail to deliver in the three crucial games ahead, the playoff chase could be over by next Tuesday.
The Blackhawks hit the road for a Saturday afternoon game against the Avalanche, part of a weekend home-and-home with their Central Division rival.