Does momentum truly exist in sports? If so, is there is a dissociation between what exists in the locker room and what occurs on the ice? Is it purely mental or does it translate to physical performance? If we were to ask anyone that saw the Chicago Blackhawks take on the Carolina Hurricanes last night, they would say that this game made a definitive case that momentum exists in the NHL, and the Blackhawks currently have none, thanks to two periods and an overtime of stagnant play.
Like many games for the Blackhawks, it started off with a pushed pace and lots of puck possession. Then father of two Patrick Sharp buried the first goal of the game and continued his scoring streak on games after the birth of a daughter. While a cute novelty, it turned out the defending Stanley Cup Champs would need more from Sharp.
Mere minutes later Marian Hossa tallied his second goal of the season on assists from the third line of Brandon Saad and Andrew Shaw, but it would not be enough. Despite Hossa and the remainder of the second line playing incredibly throughout the game, the Blackhawks became complacent during the second period and could not shove another puck behind Cam Ward, who made 34 saves.
The stagnant play of the Blackhawks quickly brought up thoughts to the game earlier this season against the St. Louis Blues, who the team will face off with again Thursday night. Goals by Carolina’s Alexander Semin and Ron Hainsey evened the score in the third period, with Hainsey’s crucial goal coming on Joakim Nordstrom’s failed clear.
Luckily for the Blackhawks, while stars Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane were stonewalled in the shootout, Corey Crawford stood on his head, once again playing up to the situation and Sharp buried the shootout winner.
Two points is two points, but this victory should by no means be celebrated. The Blackhawks’ complacency will be exploited if this trend continues. The Blackhawks will continue to rely on puck possession, and a formula on how to beat them has been provided to the league.
Follow Mike Guzman on Twitter @Mike486