Tonight’s game between the Blackhawks and Blues in St. Louis was a showcase of most, if not all of, the Blackhawks’ weaknesses as proven by the 5-1 final score. They were outplayed by the Blues in every area of the game, and showed virtually no desperation whatsoever.
One of the biggest areas of weakness on the Blackhawks’ roster is their toughness. Night in and night out they are being out-hit by their opponents. St. Louis, on the other hand, is by no means afraid to hit guys at will. Throughout tonight’s game, the Blues were running the ‘Hawks into the boards and flat on their backs left and right. This created a couple of good scoring chances for the Blues after putting some big hits on the ‘Hawks in the Chicago defensive zone. The Blackhawks’ on the other hand, had just a small handful of hits, and they were not effective.
Another area of weakness for the ‘Hawks that was blatantly obvious tonight was their board-play. It seemed as though the Blues won just about every board-battle from start to finish. This is one of the most crucial aspects of a hockey game. By winning board-battles, you gain possession of the puck. You can’t win hockey games without having possession of the hockey puck. One way to really judge a team’s effort and toughness in a hockey game is to look at the number of battles that they win along the boards. Tonight, the ‘Hawks did not get the job done in this aspect of the game, to say the least.
Shots-on-goals, what was once one of the Blackhawks strong-suits, has recently become another area of weakness for this team. In order to win, you need to score goals. In order to score goals, you need to get multiple shots-on-goal. It’s really not that hard of a concept. Yet over the past month or so, the Blackhawks are consistently getting out-shot by their opposition. In tonight’s game, the Blackhawks got out-shot, again, 31-20. They passed up a number of opportunities to get good shots on the net by trying to make an extra pass. I specifically noticed a couple of instances tonight where Patrick Sharp tried making tough passes through a lot of traffic rather than taking the open shot that he was given. When you are a team that has struggled to score goals as of late, you cannot afford to pass up shooting opportunities to try and make unnecessary passes.
The last area of weakness for the ‘Hawks that I want to mention is their powerplay. They were 0-5 on it tonight. If a team is going to give you 5 different opportunities to try and score on them with a one-man advantage, you have to convert on at least a couple of them. This has been a problem all year long for the Blackhawks, and they are showing no signs of improving.
All in all, tonight was an embarrassment for the Blackhawks. If they want any hope at making it past the first round of the playoffs, or even into the playoffs, they are going to have to get better in at least a couple areas of their game that I mentioned above. Also, getting Jonathan Toews back cannot be overvalued. They need him healthy as soon as possible, and right now, there is no timetable for his return.
Thanks for reading.