The Chicago Blackhawks now have a reputation to uphold, in regards to fast starts. After last year’s historic start culminated in a Stanley Cup run, and with an incredibly similar roster as to last year’s, expectations have never been higher.
Everything looked great against the Washington Capitals, with the exception of the penalty kill. But, the team flustered Braden Holtby and was able to secure a win. However, everything changed for the worse against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Statistically, the Blackhawks should have dominated this game, which ended in a 3-2 shootout loss that was reminiscent of previous year’s teams, but cannot be replicated as the season goes on. The Blackhawks, for example, had one more blocked shot (17) than the Lightning had shots (16). The Blackhawks held the Lightning to no shots in the first period, something the ‘Hawks haven’t done since 1946.
And yet, at the end of the day, 6-foot-7 Ben Bishop literally stood tall and earned the win over Corey Crawford, who was only able to stop 14-of-16 shots. Meanwhile, Bishop matched his 37 saves with a perfect shootout.
Going forward, the ‘Hawks will play the St. Louis Blues after another long rest period, and rumors have begun that Nikolai Khabiboulin could return on Wednesday. Crawford will obviously have his chance to redeem himself, but he has not looked good to begin the year.
Certainly not helping Crawford is the Blackhawks’ penalty kill, which allowed the tying goal to Teddy Purcell just minutes after the game was tied. Coach Joel Quenneville would not comment on the penalty kill, and any change will not be made any time soon, as the sample sizes are still too small. Going forwar, however, expect Joakim Nordstrom to have hit position questioned if the Blackhawks’ penalty kill doesn’t step up and the team continues to settle for single points.
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