In last night's 4-3 loss to the Vancouver Canucks, the best Blackhawk on the ice wore number 57. That's right, Ben Smith, who was playing in his eighth career NHL game, potted two goals...the other went to offensive juggernaut Viktor Stalberg.
As if a 2-0 deficit isn't hard enough to overcome with everyone playing well, it's nearly impossible to overcome if your stars are invisible.
Let's take a look at the numbers from last night:
Jonathan Toews : 22:04 of ice time...0 shots and -1
Marian Hossa : 19:28 of ice time...2 shots and -1
Patrick Kane : 1 assist, countless turnovers, 2 shots
Patrick Sharp : 0 points, 5 shots, 1 dumb, crippling penalty that lead to a goal
Duncan Keith : 27:38 of ice time, -2, and 2 official give-a-ways...there were many more than that
Brian Campbell : 25:41 of ice time, multiple checks avoided and turnovers
This is the core the Blackhawks identified in the offseason, and they need to be better if the Blackhawks stand a chance in this series.
I'm the last guy who wants to rip Jonathan Toews for anything, but the production isn't there...bottom line. As the teams captain, he needs to do more on the scoresheet.
Patrick Kane has floated around for much of this series. When he's not pulling up to avoid a hit, he's getting absolutely destroyed by Vancouver defensemen.
Duncan Keith, in one season, has gone from Norris Trophy winner to downright liability. Whatever decision there is to make, he makes the wrong one. Too many forced passes, too many turnover, too many shots wide of the net. He's exhausted, he's trying to do too much, and he's been doing it all season.
Brian Campbell, who's ludicrous contract is part of the reason the Hawks' depth was so stripped this offseason, is playing scared, and Pat Foley called him on it. During a Hawks power play, he avoided a check, allowing the Canucks to clear. Foley said, "...he really bailed out on that one...wow."
The Blackhawks as a whole are playing timid and scared. They are terrified to make a mistake, so every decision, every pass, every shot has a split second of hesitation. When that happens, you see blocked shots, bad passes, and turnovers. It's almost as if the Blackhawks KNOW their outmatched, and they've never been in that spot before.
I hesitate to say the Hawks are done. I still feel that Vancouver is one Luongo bump, one undetected slash, or one soft goal from imploding like they have in the past. They've kept their cool so far this series. If they can maintain that cool, they're the favorite to win the Cup. The only thing that stopped the Canucks in the past was themselves. If they don't stop themselves, it's up the the Hawks' elite core to do something about it. If not, it will be an early golf season.
Filed under: ben smith, Blackhawks, brent seabrook, brian campbell, Chicago Blackhawks, Chicago Sports, danny mac show, dave bolland, duncan keith, hockey, jay zawaski, joel quenneville, jonathan toews, Marcus Kruger, marian hossa, NHL, nhl playoffs, norris trophy, Patrick Kane, patrick sharp, sports, vancouver canucks
Tags: ben smith, blackhawks, brian campbell, chicago blackhawks, chicago sports, danny mac show, dave bolland, duncan keith, hockey, jay zawaski, joel quenneville, jonathan toews, marcus kruger, marian hossa, NHL, nhl playoffs, norris trophy, patrick kane, patrick sharp, Sports, vancouver canucks