Sidney Brown brings his weekly dispatches from the front lines of Blackhawks fandom every week during the hockey season.
After winning six of seven games on their annual Circus Trip, the Chicago Blackhawks were set to continue their dominance in the Western Conference as they returned to the United Center last week only to find themselves flat and out of sync.
The Hawks’ troubles started after falling behind 3-0 to the Dallas Stars before a fight back to tie the game was lost along with the game itself in the 3rd period. A quick road trip to Minnesota followed to face the Wild and once again the team trailed early, 2-0. Another comeback occurred and Chicago took the lead early in the 3rd period before giving it back along with the game in the last minutes. Energy and focus was restored the next night against the Anaheim Ducks, who the Hawks overcame in a shootout, getting revenge against a team that beat them four times in the last regular season.
What’s a good cure to stop a losing streak? Beat up on a less talented club. The Hawks did just that against the Florida Panthers Sunday, stopping their three-game winless streak, their longest this season. But the recurring problem that is the Hawks’ penalty kill unit could help derail any potential turn around this week. Chicago’s 29th-ranked unit was exposed last week, giving up four’ goals including two versus Minnesota and one each to Anaheim and Dallas. With players taking dumb penalties and playing out of position on defense the Hawks remain exposed to give up bad goals.
Maybe the Hawks’ penalty kill can take some inspiration from the power play, which has played well recently. The sixth-ranked unit league-wide has been on fire the past week, totaling six goals, including three against the Florida Panthers, this unit is clicking on all cylinders.
The Hawks’ stars continue to show the ability to create and pass the puck on the fly with precision in the offensive zone. Being patient and keeping bodies in front of the net have been major factors as this team continues to have success offensively.
* To WTTW-TV (PBS Channel 11) in Chicago for showing 17 Seconds, the 2013 Chicago Blackhawks Championship Film this past Saturday night.
Taking you behind the scenes from Game 6 at Boston in the Stanley Cup Finals to the player’s individual days spent with the Cup over the summer and on to the Opening Night Ring Ceremony to start this season, 17 Seconds is a highly recommended film for all Hawks fans.
This type of showcase helps show why the Chicago Blackhawks are the class organization in the city of Chicago right now, they know how to sell their product to everyone.
* To former Blackhawks John Madden and Brian Campbell, each now members of the Florida Panthers organization who appeared at the United Center Sunday to play the Hawks. Both members of the 2010 Stanley Cup Championship Team, Madden (now an assistant coach) and Campbell were both important contributors to that ’10 team and their contributions will never be forgotten.
Dallas Stars forward Antoine Roussel taunted the crowd at the United Center after scoring the eventual game-winning goal on a penalty shot against the Hawks last Tuesday. I guess that fight against Andrew Shaw that he lost earlier that night didn’t rattle his brain enough (or maybe it rattled it too much). The Hawks should settle the score with Roussel in their trip to Dallas tonight.
Team Leaders: Goals — Patrick Kane (16); Assists — Duncan Keith (24); Points — Kane (34); Goals Against Average — Antti Raanta (2.08); Penalty Minutes — Brandon Bollig (40).
The Week Ahead (12/9-12/15)
Tonight at Dallas Stars — 7:30 PM
Wednesday vs. Philadelphia Flyers — 7 PM
Saturday at Toronto Maple Leafs — 6 PM Sunday vs. Los Angeles Kings — 6 PM
(All times Central)
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