The face says it all. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Daniel, NHL.com)

Semyon Varlamov is the reason the Colorado Avalanche got one point, let alone the two they walked away with tonight. He was outstanding stopping 46 of 48 shots that reached him, with at least a handful or more being spectacular saves. I’m going to leave the off ice stuff out of this and give him credit for playing an excellent game tonight. His teammates didn’t much help him in the effort as Colorado was playing in its own end for roughly 75% of this game.

The Blackhawks also deserve credit of their own. You don’t generate 75% of the scoring chances in a hockey game without thoroughly dominating the 18 skaters the other team iced.

 

We can go ahead and get the faults out of the way first, I suppose. There’s not a ton of them, but the Blackhawks did make some mistakes in limited quantity tonight. Over the course of 62 seconds, Chicago found itself in a 2-0 hole. Colorado’s first goal came on a Tyson Barrie shot from just inside the blue line that navigated itself through at least two players before finding the twine above Corey Crawford’s glove. The Hawks then marched to the penalty box twice, with the Avalanche converting the first one on a nice sequence of passes to put Chicago down 2-0.

Welp. That about covers what the Blackhawks did wrong. 62 seconds of 60 minutes of regulation hockey.

After those 62 seconds, what can be referred to as score effects took over. The Blackhawks had the Avs trapped in their own end (I will not make a kidnapping joke I will not make a kidnapping joke I will not make a kidnapping joke) for the vast majority of this game. As I write this, ExtraSkater has Chicago with 86 CORSI events generated to just 35 for the Avalanche. The Hawks were able to battle back with Brandon Saad setting up a Johnny Oduya redirect on a great play where he skated from near the goalline all the way back to the point and let a shot go through traffic. Andrew Shaw tied it in the third on a nifty play that saw him corral a rebound and flip it top shelf over Varlamov’s blocker. Chicago nearly took the lead a couple times over the last 10 minutes of regulation but would fall in overtime after the Captain took a hooking penalty that resulted in the GWG PPG for the Avs.

Onto the one-timer segment of the program.

  • 0 for 5 on the powerplay. Convert just one of those and this game probably never goes to overtime. Hawks’ powerplay just 2 for its last 17.
  • The 11 after the 2nd dash in the Blackhawks’ record bothers me. 11 losses sustained not in regulation. Seven of those have come in the skill competition that won’t be a concern in the postseason. Still, it’s the regular season right now and it’s a concern for where the Blackhawks will be seeded in the postseason. That’s seven points via shootout, and four more from sudden death goals allowed, the Hawks don’t have in the bank. The four sudden death goals are less of a concern since it’s a smaller number, but those seven points (a number sure to grow larger as the season progresses) could be the difference between playing Game 1 against a St. Louis Blues team at home rather than in St. Louis. The Blackhawks have gone to overtime 15 times this year. They’ve won 4 of those, all via the shootout. The last OT goal they scored came off Andrew Shaw’s shinpads in Game 1 of the Finals.
  • Andrew Shaw found the scoresheet tonight. I wanted to give credit to him playing with Pat Kane, but it was actually an extended shift for Marian Hossa, and a great forechecking effort by Hossa and Saad, that resulted in that goal.
  • Not sure if it was part of the gameplan for defencemen to pinch against the Avs tonight but it was happening a lot. Blackhawk defencemen have always been pinchers, but it seems like they were below the circles a lot tonight. Brent Seabrook especially. Just an observation, not necessarily a criticism.
  • Toews, Kane, Hossa and Versteeg. Guys that spent time in the penalty box tonight for Chicago. 2 of the 3 Colorado goals came with the extra skater.
  • Colorado only took three more shots than they blocked. I wonder if a team has ever blocked more shots than they’ve attempted in a game?
  • Michal Handzus was the only true center that didn’t win at least 50% of his draws tonight.
  • If you’re looking to blame this game on Corey Crawford, I won’t try to stop you. I would like to point out that his even-strength save percentage was over .950 though.
  • Bryan Bickell can feature himself in his pitbull calendar next year because he spent the majority of the third period in Joel Quenneville’s doghouse skating just 6:34 tonight. Next lowest was Handzus at just a hair over 8 minutes. (ed. note: Bickell had the 2nd highest CF% on the team, only topped by linemate Kris Versteeg. It was understandable a couple weeks ago why he was Q’s whipping boy because he’d been playing poorly, but tonight I don’t think there was evidence to only give him one shift in the entire third period. Benching a guy for poor play is legitimate. This is not.)

Some major tests upcoming this weekend for the Blackhawks. The Ducks who are absolutely on fire as of late come to West Madison on Friday and the Bruins are here for a dreaded 11:30 AM start on Sunday morning. It’d be especially nice to get a regulation win against Anaheim.