Blackhawks failed to compete as Toronto snags a 7-3 win - Dallas News |

Blackhawks failed to compete as Toronto snags a 7-3 win

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

The Blackhawks three game winning streak came to an end with one of the poorest efforts of the season. In a Saturday Hockey Night in Canada telecast the Hawks laid and egg and lost 7-3 to the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Going into this season many thought the Blackhawks would have trouble keeping their focus. A Stanley Cup hangover can cause a lesser opponent to end up as a winner.

Up until now there haven't been many issues with a lack of competitiveness or focus but last night most of the Hawks were far from their best.

Maybe this loss came about because the Blackhawks were feeling too good about themselves. After all they just notched three wins while recording 19 goals.

It could be that going up to Canada for a primetime game involved many distractions which were not dealt with properly. Whatever the reasons the Hawks stumbled badly just like they did in Nashville and Colorado in November.

Things started out poorly as the Hawks took three consecutive penalties which happened inside of the opening eight minutes.

The penalties took the flow away but the biggest factor was the Maple Leafs were more engaged. They won the majority of individual battles and seemed more hungry.

If not for some nice stops by Antti Raanta the Leafs could have built a big early lead. Toronto's opening score was a save Raanta would want back but his play wasn't the biggest concern.

Patrick Kane was the best Chicago player and he notched the opening Hawks goal which was deflected in by Dion Phaneuf. The Blackhawks got lucky on that play and were fortunate the period ended all square at one goal each.

In the second period Raanta wasn't as sharp and his teammates were still struggling, and that spelled trouble.

The Leafs scored four times in the middle frame and Kane scored his second of the game. The Hawks defenders appeared a step slow and the forwards lost one on one battles.

The third period started with Raanta on the bench as he was replaced by another rookie Kent Simpson, who should be playing in Rockford.

Simpson has many lessons to learn and isn't ready for prime time. He was scored on by Toronto on his first NHL shot. Simpson settled down and the Leafs scored one more time in the frame as Brandon Saad scored for Chicago.

As was discussed here the Blackhawks would need a backup with NHL experience if Nikolai Khabibulin wasn't back soon.

On Saturday they acquired goalie Jason LaBarbera from Edmonton for future considerations. LaBarbera is 33 years old, has appeared in 182 NHL games and he reported to Rockford.

Following the loss Joel Quenneville mentioned LaBarbera would not be brought up to Chicago on Sunday.

My guess is he will be up with the big club soon. Most likely LaBarbera was acquired because with Corey Crawford out Khabibulin isn't close to returning from injury. Raanta shouldn't be expected to play in every game for the next few weeks and Simpson is over his skis in the NHL. So GM Stan Bowman added a veteran netminder who could come in handy.

It will be a quick turnaround as a difficult opponent is featured in a Sunday night United Center battle. Raanta will need to bounce back as will his mates because the Los Angeles Kings are on fire.

The Kings are riding a six game winning streak and it will take a top effort to defeat them.

I will be back on Monday morning and you can follow me on Twitter @AlCimaglia.

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