Well, the Blackhawks were close to possibly getting home ice in the first round. But that is gone now, gone in the wake of two Vladimir Tarasenko goals.
The Blackhawks squandered their 1-0 lead as Tarasenko led the St. Louis Blues to a 2-1 overtime victory on Thursday night. Now the Blackhawks can only play their regular-season finale against the Columbus Blue Jackets and watch to see what happens with the Blues and Dallas Stars in the fight for the Central Division title.
So let’s play the waiting game, folks. Until it all plays out, read Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ overtime loss to the Blues.
1. Frustrated but not devastated. The Blackhawks would’ve loved to get a victory out of this one and see how interesting things really could’ve gotten with the regular-season finales. But considering they were missing some ammo for yet another game (Duncan Keith, Marian Hossa, Andrew Shaw, Artem Anisimov and Corey Crawford), they’ll lick their wounds and move on after this one. Yes, the Blackhawks have been missing a few guys for a few games now. It was bound to catch up with them as some point, wasn’t it? Thursday was that point.
2. Good work by Scott Darling. The backup goaltender has an unpredictable job. Coach Joel Quenneville says that guy always has to be ready because he never knows when he’ll be needed. Darling found that out these last few weeks, as he started 11 consecutive games after Crawford went down with an upper-body injury. He played pretty well, and was a big reason why the Blackhawks just about won on Thursday. Crawford is expected back on Saturday, but Darling did good work these past few weeks. “I felt really good tonight and the last few games,” Darling said. “It’s been a lot of fun to play.”
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3. The case for Richard Panik? Yes, we don’t know where the heck you fit the guy when the Blackhawks get healthy again. But Quenneville talks about tough decisions, and Panik is giving him one with how he’s played down the stretch. With Hossa hurt, Panik has looked good and comfortable with Andrew Ladd and Jonathan Toews. “I have to try and play my best every game and earn the spot for the playoffs,” he said. “I feel bad about a minus today, but I think as a line we had a good game. Had a couple chances. Too bad we didn’t score.”
4. Trevor van Riemsdyk makes a save or two. Van Riemsdyk has learned a lot in this full rookie season, and he’s played better in recent games. He was in the right place at the right time twice tonight, pushing Magnus Paajarvi’s potential goal out of the way late in regulation and then keeping the puck out of the net early in overtime. “He’s been good,” Quenneville said. “Good around the net, he really picks his spots as far as when to join off the attack, finding little pockets, be it off the rush or in zone. He anticipates the options there and (he’s) improving on his reads and coverage around the net.”
5. A quiet night for Bryan Bickell. It was another chance for Bickell who only logged nine minutes, 11 seconds of ice time. But Bickell didn’t make much of an impact in his time. Quenneville pronounced him, “OK.” But Quenneville said Bickell has to do something in the time he is on the ice. “(With) the role and job description, you have to find a way to make a contribution in the limited ice time you do get.”