Crying Lightning: Blackhawks 3, Lightning 2 (SO)
The punishment for watching the Blackhawks as much as some of us do is that we can’t just accept taking two points from one of the hottest and talented teams in the NHL without delving into some underlying issues – and there were a few that need to be pointed out from Tuesday’s 3-2 shootout win over Tampa Bay.
Oh, you want the good stuff first? OK, let’s look at the good stuff.
♦ For as much as we’ve harped on Kris Versteeg on this site, on Twitter, on Facebook, in our own text and email threads, in your haunted dreams, etc., he’s actually been pretty decent lately, and it’s tough not to justify his place on the top line with Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews – for now. Sure, you’re still going to find him blindly firing a pass to the center of the ice with no one there and he’ll stickhandle himself out of position, but he’s getting to the net and creating some chances. It’s far more than what we expected after playing like a pile of dog shit last season.
♦ Corey Crawford got hung out to dry twice – both involved Brent Seabrook, and we’ll get to that later – but he played another solid game and has done so pretty much all season. His solid play furthers my point of cocking your hand back and swiftly decking anyone who suggests anyone else is the system is better suited for his starting role.
There’s more good, and overall the ‘Hawks played rather well on both ends Tuesday, but here are some things that are concerning:
♦ There was a lot of discussion in regards to Kane’s lack of production to start the season, and a lot of it was attributed to the fact that he was being slowed playing with Andrew Shaw and others not wearing the ‘C’ on their sweater. Now that he’s on a line with Toews, the excuses pretty much end. What’s been most disturbing, and I credit Tom of this very own site for pointing it out most often, is that there’s a glaring disconnect in Kane’s game.
If you seek out highlights of last night’s game, you’re going to find videos of Kane’s nifty backhander that won the shootout. And yes, it was gorgeous and beautiful and fabulous and showtime and whatever other adjective you want to throw in there. But more often than not during actual gameplay, you have to wonder what’s going on with Kane between the ears. He’s one of the most dynamic players in the league when he wants to be, and I’m not so sure he’s wanted to be for a good chunk of this young season.
There’s a lot of floating, and the one point that sticks out most was toward the end of the third period when he loafed around center ice with seemingly no purpose even when the puck was in the offensive end. Take a minute to focus on Kane away from the puck and it may become more apparent. But whatever is going on, he needs to get himself right again, because a team as loaded as this offensively cannot be scoring fewer than three goals every night and will need some production from one of the top scoring threats in the league.
♦ Seabrook – woof. What a disastrous showing Tuesday. There was the 2-on-1 situation that he badly misplayed leading to the shorty, losing his man on the Tampa Bay’s second goal that allowed an easy backdoor play through the crease, and his idiotic cross-checking penalty in third. Q demoted him, and had it not been for Johnny Oduya getting hurt, Seabrook may not have seen the ice again. He simply has to be better than that.
♦ The ‘Hawks can’t get six power-play chances against a team that has proved it can score at will and come up empty, and a shorthanded goal allowed is simply unacceptable when expanding on that point. Now, we can definitely tip our cap to Ben Bishop for making a couple of spectacular saves. But when we look back on this in a few weeks, we’re only going to see the numbers. And it’s not as if it’s only been goaltenders standing on their heads that has made the Blackhawks’ power-play woes what they are.
♦ Welcome back, Michal Rozsival. Thanks for the turnovers, especially the one you made behind your own net trying to make a 100-foot pass that was intercepted at the blue line and led to a long Lightning shift in your own end.
Again, I hate to point out so much negatively after taking two points, but you can’t call me a liar, either. When a couple of the issues involve two of your highest-paid players who are part of The Core™, ignoring them simply won’t happen.
On to Detroit we go.
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