Too casual Blackhawks lose again to the Wild in a shootout - Dallas News | myFOXdfw.com

Too casual Blackhawks lose again to the Wild in a shootout

Posted: Updated: April 06, 2012 10:20 AM CDT
CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

The Blackhawks lost 2-1 in a shootout in Minnesota on Thursday. The loss prevents the Hawks from beginning post-season play on home ice. Corey Crawford was the main reason the Hawks didn't lose the game in regulation as the Hawks were soundly outplayed during the third period.

Last year, Minnesota won their final game which enabled the Blackhawks to squeak into the playoffs. This season the Wild didn't record a point versus Chicago in their first two meetings. This week they finally got some revenge by capturing two shootout victories. By doing so the Wild did their part in preventing the Hawks from enjoying a home ice advantage during the opening round of the playoffs.

The Hawks dominated early but did not capitalize on opportunities. There were some old bad habits which became apparent as the game wore on. After the first period the older version Blackhawks took to the ice and the results were disappointing.

It seemed like the Blackhawks chalked up this game as a win after the first period. The Hawks came out in the second frame and were too casual. They didn't have the intensity needed to succeed and the Chicago power play failed to fire repeatedly. Minnesota found their skating legs and became the better team.

The Wild collapsed around their net and kept the Blackhawk attack out on the perimeter. The Hawks didn't have the willingness to drive to the net. Minnesota goaltender Josh Harding wasn't called on for many difficult saves after the opening period. The numbers don't lie, after a 10 shot first period the Hawks managed only 13 strikes for the rest of the night. Crawford saved the day in the third frame when Minnesota outshot the Hawks eight to one.

Although the Hawks probably got what they deserved there was a questionable no goal call in the third period. It appeared Bryan Bickell tipped in a Niklas Hjalmarsson shot. When the puck went in, the referee closest to the play indicated by pointing at the net that it was a good goal. Afterwards the officials huddled and evidently ruled the puck was deflected in with a high stick.

The play was then reviewed by the War Room in Toronto. This type of video review is seldom overturned as it is very difficult to tell for sure how high the player's stick was in relationship to the cross bar when the puck was deflected. In this case, because the call on the ice was no goal, there wasn't enough evidence on the video review to reverse the original call.

As luck would have it a short time later Bickell was whistled for a careless high sticking penalty. The Wild then converted on the power play to tie the score. The difference in this game could simply be boiled down to power play conversion. The Hawks failed to dent the net during 11 minutes of power play time. The Wild were successful in scoring while having only two power play opportunities.

The Blackhawks were not as dialed in Thursday night and they needed to be. It often seemed like the Hawks were more interested in putting on a show rather than working hard. Patrick Kane put on another dazzling display in the shootout up in Minnesota, but this time he was stopped. Kane seemed to have an open net but didn't bear down to elevate the puck and Harding came up with the save. That was the only time in the shootout the Hawks came close to scoring.

So what's next for the Blackhawks?

The Hawks will skate into Detroit for a Saturday afternoon contest with the Red Wings. The only way the Hawks can move from their sixth place position is to defeat the Wings in regulation. So this situation leads to an interesting scenario for Joel Quenneville in the last regular season game.

Quenneville could downplay the importance of Saturday‘s match. If the Hawks do capture a regulation victory the prize would be facing the Nashville Predators in the opening round. Possibly Quenneville could look to rest some of his most valuable players and not risk injury and take his chances facing the winner of the Pacific Division.

It looks like Los Angeles is the favorite to win the Pacific, but that spot won't be determined until late Saturday night. This is an odd season and although it would be surprising if Nashville lost a first round matchup it wouldn't be shocking.

Some believe, and Quenneville may feel the same, that is important to go into the playoffs off a winning performance. There is a school of thought that it is best to not try to pick, or avoid certain playoff opponents.

In this case, my view is the Hawks have fought hard and had to overcome many injuries to get to this point. There is no guarantee Jonathan Toews will be able to compete in all of the playoff games. So Saturday Quenneville should do whatever he feels is necessary to insure a long playoff run.

Quenneville is in a tough spot as one more key injury to Marian Hossa or Kane for example, could spell doom for the Blackhawks playoff hopes. It would be very difficult to have a long playoff run without Toews alone. So my view is to go into Detroit with a few Ice Hogs and leave some players back in Chicago.

The Hawks don't have to apologize to anyone if they choose to go the route of resting players for the Detroit game. They played well enough to secure a playoff spot earlier than others and they have the benefit of not needing a victory in their last game.

It has been a crazy season so the Hawks could go into Detroit without some star players and still win in regulation. In that case it is what is, but to risk a more injuries to main performers isn't the best option.

Al's Shots

Duncan Keith returned Thursday night and had a good game. Keith didn't appear rusty and had 25:23 of playing time.

Dave Bolland missed the game with an upper body injury but should be good to go for the playoffs. The Hawks are hopeful the same can be said about Jonathan Toews.

At this point, I don't see much to gain by Toews playing on Saturday, the extra time off could be wise to take. Toews has missed so many games he will be rusty in the first round no matter if he plays in Detroit or not.

The Wild's Nate Prosser was thrown out of the game for a head butt to Jamal Mayers in the first period. It appeared to be intentional and the Wild defender could face a suspension.

The Wild then had to play the majority of the game with only five defenders and this led to a team record. Defenseman Marco Scandella recorded a whopping 35:32 of ice time and did so in fine fashion. Scandella was credited with an assist and six blocked shots.

Playing out on the perimeter didn't work well for the Hawks big three of Hossa-Kane and Sharp. The trio only recorded one shot each on goal.

In the upper right hand corner is an audio link for a SiriusXM radio interview with Jamie Shalley on Thursday. We discussed the emergence of Marcus Kruger, Viktor Stalberg and the coming playoffs.

Follow me on Twitter @AlCimaglia

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