Five Things: Crawford struggles in Blackhawks loss to Canucks


Five Things: Crawford struggles in Blackhawks loss to Canucks

VANCOUVER, British Columbia – We’ve reached that point in the Circus Trip where the Blackhawks will go to a place that’s decidedly not about hockey – well, not yet, anyway.

The Blackhawks hit the midway point of this trip feeling the same way they did when they embarked on it: they’re looking for consistency, especially when it comes to results. They didn’t go into this break on a high note, dropping a 6-3 decision to the Vancouver Canucks. So before we enjoy our own two-day respite from hockey, let’s look at Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ loss to Vancouver.

[MORE: Sedins power Canucks past Blackhawks]

1. Patrick Kane keeps the point streak alive but… Kane didn’t sound too happy with his game at the moment. Sounds strange coming from a player who’s now on a 16-game point streak, a career best. But Kane said he has to get better. “I don’t know if I’m extremely happy with my game right now,” he said. “I want to improve a little bit here, especially going into the California trip, create more scoring chances out there. Hopefully a couple of days off and I’ll feel good going into California."

2. Corey Crawford “OK.” Again, that’s a coach Joel Quenneville assessment, which is never a positive one. Crawford dazzled us all a few days ago with his stop on Taylor Hall, which helped the Blackhawks stay in an overtime game they eventually won against the Edmonton Oilers. But on Saturday against the Canucks, when the rest of the Blackhawks played a pretty solid game, Crawford was not at his best.

3. An interesting top line. It seemed a bit odd to look down at pregame line rushes and see Jonathan Toews flanked by Andrew Shaw and Ryan Garbutt. But that line ended up being one of the most energetic of the night. Garbutt scored his first with the Blackhawks and Quenneville liked what the trio brought. Garbutt liked the combination, too. “Shawzy’s awesome to play with. I think we worked well together. We both play with speed and obviously Jonny just does what he does,” he said.

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

4. The Sedins aren’t finished yet. Daniel and Henrik Sedin aren’t in their prime anymore but the twins reminded us all that they still can work their magic sometimes. Daniel Sedin had a hat trick and an assist and Henrik had a goal and four assists. The Canucks had won just one of their last eight games entering Saturday night; the Sedins gave them several reasons to enjoy this one.

5. A quick break, then back to business. Quenneville joked prior to the game that you could “flip a coin” on how the Blackhawks do in games before and after their Las Vegas portion of this trip. Well, that could describe the Blackhawks through this early season. They’ve had their ups and downs, and this isn’t how they wanted to go into this break. They need to rebound and finish the second portion of this trip strong, otherwise they could get lost in the Central Division shuffle fast.

Four takeaways: Blackhawks on wrong side of history in loss to Lightning


Four takeaways: Blackhawks on wrong side of history in loss to Lightning

Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 6-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning at the United Center on Sunday:

1. Blackhawks on wrong side of history 

Earlier this year the Blackhawks made history by appearing in five straight overtime games to start the season, something no team in NBA, NFL, NHL or MLB history has ever done.

But Sunday they found themselves on the wrong side of it after allowing 33 shots on goal in the second period alone. It tied a franchise high for most given up in a single period — March 4, 1941 vs. Boston — and is the most an NHL team has allowed since 1997-98 when shots by period became an official stat.

"It's pretty rare to be seeing that much work in a period," said Cam Ward, who had a season-high 49 saves. "But oh man, I don't even know what to say to be honest. It's tough. We know that we need to be better especially in our home building, too. And play with some pride and passion. Unfortunately, it seemed like it was lacking at times tonight. The old cliche you lose as a team and overall as a team we weren't good enough tonight."

Said coach Joel Quenneville: "That was a tough, tough period in all aspects. I don’t think we touched the puck at all and that was the part that was disturbing, against a good hockey team."

2. Alexandre Fortin is on the board

After thinking he scored his first career NHL goal in Columbus only to realize his shot went off Marcus Kruger's shin-pad, Fortin made up for it one night later and knows there wasn't any question about this one.

The 21-year-old undrafted forward, playing in his his fifth career game, sprung loose for a breakaway early in the first period and received a terrific stretch pass by Jan Rutta from his own goal line to Fortin, who slid it underneath Louis Domingue for his first in the big leagues. It's his second straight game appearing on the scoresheet after recording an assist against the Blue Jackets on Saturday.

"It's fun," Fortin said. "I think it would be a little bit more fun to get your first goal [while getting] two points for your team, but I think we ... just have to [turn the page to the] next chapter and just play and be ready for next game."

3. Brandon Saad's most noticeable game?

There weren't many positives to take away from this game, but Saad was certainly one of them. He had arguably his best game of the season, recording seven shot attempts (three on goal) with two of them hitting the post (one while the Blackhawks were shorthanded).

He was on the ice for 11 shot attempts for and five against at 5-on-5, which was by far the best on his team.

"He started OK and got way better," Quenneville said of Saad. "Had the puck way more, took it to the net a couple of times, shorthanded."

4. Special teams still a work in progress

The Blackhawks entered Sunday with the 29th-ranked power play and 25th-ranked penalty kill, and are still working to get out from the bottom of the league in both departments. In an effort to change up their fortunes with the man advantage, the Blackhawks split up their two units for more balance.

They had four power-play opportunities against Tampa Bay and cashed in on one of them, but it didn't matter as it was too little, too late in the third period — although they did become the first team to score a power-play goal against the Lightning this season (29 chances).

"Whether we're looking for balance or we're just looking for one to get hot, I think our power play has been ordinary so far," Quenneville said before the game. "We need it to be more of a threat."

Four more minor penalties were committed by the Blackhawks, giving them eight in the past two games. That's one way they can shore up the penalty kill, by cutting back on taking them.

Blackhawks tie franchise record for shots on goal allowed in one period


Blackhawks tie franchise record for shots on goal allowed in one period

Well, things could be going better for the Blackhawks during Sunday's game against the Lightning.

In the second period Sunday, the Blackhawks surrendered 33 shots on goal, tying a franchise record for most in a single period. The previous instance occurred March 4, 1941 against the Boston Bruins, a game that the Blackhawks lost 3-2.

While the Blackhawks tied a franchise record for shots on goal allowed, they actually set an NHL record at the same time. The NHL did not begin recording shots on goal as an "official" statistic until the 1997-98 season.

Consequentially, Sunday's 33 shots on goal allowed in the second period is the "official" record, even though the Blackhawks accomplished the "feat" nearly 80 years ago. Confusing, huh? 

Unfortunately for the Blackhawks, they also surrendered three goals and scored zero in addition to the plethora of shots on goal allowed. They recorded just six shots on goal in the second period themselves, trailing 4-1 by the time the third period started.