How much do games matter in October? The same question can be asked for every sport really, although the month changes. How much do early season games truly matter?
This question is now being repeated by Chicago Blackhawks fans everywhere, as the Blackhawks continue to look unimpressive in their Stanley Cup defense. Perhaps the expectations are unrealistic after the infamous start to last season and the NHL is a league of parody, but this group of guys in their present groupings has looked uninspiring despite having immense potential.
A few stats really stick out when looking at this season, but last night’s shootout loss against the St. Louis Blues was an example that change needs to happen if a top seed is earned when the playoffs arrived. Importantly, the Blackhawks were outshot the last two periods of regulation and only put 14 shots on Jaroslav Halak, who was able to negate the Blackhawks in the shootout.
It also marked the sixth one goal game for the Blackhawks already this year and the third shootout. Those expanded minutes are already having an effect on the team going forward, as Michal Handzus, Michal Rozsival, and Marian Hossa all will be limited in practice throughout the year.
Hossa did not take the ice at practice today, but all signs point to him playing Saturday night against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Corey Crawford will also start against a traditional Toronto team that will look to lay many hits on the ‘Hawks.
New look lines have already begun to take shape, including Brandon Saad’s promotion to the top line with Marian Hossa, while Bryan Bickell’s slow start has officially seemed to demote him to third line relegation. Fresh off his first goal, Brandon Pirri will remain as fourth line center while Marcus Kruger and Joakim Nordstrom continue to find attempt to find their place.
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