The theme of the week for the Chicago Blackhawks has been failure to finish games. In each of the games this week, they’ve either been neck and neck with amazing goaltending keeping them in it, or they fall apart late and don’t recover. Let’s take a look.
Tuesday, the Hawks took on the Colorado Avalanche, a team that is currently third in the wild card standings, which is one spot outside the playoffs. Goaltender Jean Francois Berube had a great game, stopping 33 out of 34 shots, leading the Hawks to a 2-1 victory. Johnathon Toews and Erik Gustafsson each tallied a goal. It was a good win for the Hawks, as they were led by Berube, who played almost like injured goaltender Corey Crawford in his absence. What was the most surprising was the trio from the Avalanche, Nathan Mackinnon, Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen, who the Hawks held to only one goal. Although the Hawks don’t have a chance at the playoffs, they still have some fight left in them.
Thursday, the Hawks took on the Carolina Hurricanes. The Hurricanes roster features four ex-Blackhawks. Starting with Scott Darling, who was the netminder for the Canes on Thursday. He stopped 22 out of 24 shots on the night and looked comfortable at the United Center, where he spent three seasons behind Corey Crawford. The other ex-Hawks include Teuvo Teravainen, Trevor Van Riemsdyk and Joakim Nordstrom. Teravainen notched an assist on the night but the other two were left off the score sheet. Behind a solid performance from Darling, the Hawks fell by a final score of 3-2. The Hawks were able to take an early lead which Carolina was able to tie up shortly after, but the Hawks would get a goal form Patrick Sharp and make it 2-1 lead at the end of the period. After that, the Hawks fell flat, unable to muster any more offense.
The Hawks then had back to back games against the Boston Bruins. Game one on Saturday was a high scoring affair, with neither team having a goalie it seemed. Tukka Rask started in net for the Bruins, stopping only 23 out of 27 shots. Berube got the start for the Blackhawks and he played well for the first two periods, holding the Bruins to three goals. However, the meltdown happened in the third, where Berube and the Hawks gave up four goals, absolutely tanking and throwing the game away in the process. The Hawks would lose by a final score of 7-4.
Game two was the exact opposite for the teams, with a total of four goals, two of which came with less than two minutes left. The turning point of the game was a high sticking penalty that Bruins captain Zdeno Chara took with less than four minutes left in the game. The high stick drew blood which made it a four minute power play for the Hawks. Patrick Kane came up huge in a way only Patrick Kane can, setting himself up and rocketing a shot past goaltender Anton Khudobin, giving the Hawks a 2-1 lead late. Brent Seabrook blasted one past Khudobin a minute later to make it 3-1 Hawks, and that’s how the game would end. A 3-1 win for the Hawks after a game that had superb goaltending from both goaltenders was a tough and much-needed win.
Overall, the Hawks took two out of four games on the week, and although they didn’t play very well, they managed to squeak out a couple of victories. They need to learn how to stay in games and play entire games if they’re ever going to right this shaky ship. The Hawks have three games coming up against the Winnipeg Jets, the Buffalo Sabres and the St Louis Blues. We can only hope to see some consistency this week throughout the three phases.