Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn, USA TODAY

Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn, USA TODAY

For the 84th consecutive season, the Chicago Blackhawks will not go undefeated. Darn.

While the shootout loss is disappointing, the all-important standings point – they’ve earned 13 out of a possible 14 – came with it. And on top of it, the ‘Hawks had a very solid all-around effort to begin a six-game road trip – at the end of which they’ll have already played nearly half of their road games for the entire season.

Lots of good in this one. The ‘Hawks made it clear they were going to pressure Josh Harding and the Minnesota defense from the get-go, and it led to a goal from Andrew Shaw that was made possible by Bryan Bickell’s rush to the net.

Jonathan Toews then caught Harding five-hole from the left wing, forcing Niklas Backstrom into action early.

The penalty kill was stellar again, snuffing out another 3-on-5 disadvantage and four short-handed situations in all, including one to end the third period to preserve the point. Oh, and Corey Crawford. He made three saves before the ‘Hawks lost Matt Cullen on the game’s first goal and can’t be blamed for raging douchebag Cal Clutterbuck’s redirection in the second period.

Then there was this save on the 5-on-3:

While the ‘Hawks obviously controlled possession for most of the final two periods – the Wild had only two shots in the third – most of their shots weren’t off quality chances. The aggressiveness and bull-rushing of the net we saw early on faded and Backstrom wasn’t challenged to make many tough saves.

Though Patrick Sharp hit the crossbar in regulation and again in the shootout, I don’t think he played his best game. He seemed a step slow all night, and he was flat-footed when Mikko Koivu, I believe, skated into the zone right past Sharp, forcing him to take what could have been a costly penalty at the end of the third.

And Dave Bolland lost 14 of 20 faceoffs. Holy shitball does that need to stop, and fast. That’s way too many possessions behind given up for the second line.

On to Boxing. Right-click the image and select ‘view’ to enlarge…

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