The broken record played again on Sunday night. Corey Crawford shutting out an opponent, at least for a while, on one end. The Blackhawks not finding any offense at the other. Sure, there’s been a power-play goal here or an empty-net goal there, but nothing consistent and little on 5-on-5.
Right now for the Blackhawks, it’s either Crawford shutout or bust.
Another game another listless offensive outing for the Blackhawks. They could talk about their opportunities against Charlie Lindgren, the good chances the young Montreal goaltender stopped (38 saves in all), the rebounds he gave up that the Blackhawks couldn’t get to and the near misses the Blackhawks had. It’s easy to say something should happen when you get 38 shots on goal but it again comes down to quality. There was some, but there could’ve been more.
“When you see the shot totals high with no goals, maybe some are coming from the outside, not enough second efforts in front of the goaltenders, taking his eyes away and getting those loose pucks around the net,” Patrick Sharp said. “We have to find a way to generate more offense and help our goaltender out.”
It goes beyond Sunday. The Blackhawks have one 5-on-5 goal in their last three games (Jonathan Toews’ breakaway midway through their victory over Philadelphia on Wednesday). The Blackhawks have tried different line combinations, and they did a little more mixing in the third period on Sunday night, but it hasn’t yielded much. The Blackhawks rarely used to worry about 5-on-5 scoring. Now, as coach Joel Quenneville said following Sunday’s game, they’re “starting to think about it.”
“I don’t know if we need a bounce to get some confidence or get more traffic at the net when our D are shooting the puck. We’re making it too easy on the goaltenders,” Nick Schmaltz said. “[Lindgren] made some great saves, don’t get me wrong. We had some backdoor [chances] we could bear down on a little more on. But it’s just getting to the net and creating more second-chance opportunities and sustaining pucks in the offensive zone.”
Patrick Kane said it’s “definitely frustrating right now.”
“It seems like we either have the chances or we're not really producing much. It's not really fun when it’s going that way,” he said. “That just comes with being more confident around the net. Being a little bit more patient if the puck comes on your stick. Take that extra second and put it where it needs to be.”
The necessary goaltending on one end, the inexplicable inability to score at the other. It’s been a broken record for the Blackhawks this early season, and it keeps spinning.
“We just have to bear down,” Schmaltz said. “Hopefully one game we break out and we won’t be talking about this anymore.”