Well, it may have taken longer than a 10th of the season, but the Chicago Blackhawks got straight embarrassed last night. Even worse, it was against the Minnesota Wild, a team that continues to play the Blackhawks as a hypothetic circled game on the schedule.
Despite the score, this game was not 5-3 close. Jason Pominville clinched the game when it was 4-1, and that score is far more reflective of the dynamic of the game. The Blackhawks simply stunk it up at home, after coming back from a road trip against two rather anemic teams.
The special teams were once against atrocious, and a lot of that blame can actually go to Jonathan Toews. Although he doesn’t traditionally play on the penalty kill, he has committed an uncharacteristic number of Chicago’s penalties during the last few games despite staying out of the sin bin last night. Chicago ranks last in the league killing only 72.2 percent of penalties after last night, and have allowed eleven goals in the last two games.
Yesterday’s game was particularly sloppy, and the Blackhawks got seven power play opportunities, only able to convert one of them, a Patrick Kane goal which came far too late. Toews is a staple on the power play unit, and his leadership needs to transition from the forwards section of the bench all the way to the defenseman.
Toews is one of the best leaders in the league, but it is not currently reflecting. What is reflecting is the fact that Toews leads by example, for better or worse. In losses, Toews has double the penalty minutes (eight) than in wins (four).
Going forward, the Blackhawks will certainly be worked hard Sunday and face off against the Wild again Monday night. Line shuffling may occur, although expect Bryan Bickell to remain on the third line as he continues to score, and the penalty kill of Marcus Kruger and Brad Mills to stay together for at least one more game.
Follow Mike Guzman on Twitter @Mike486