Last night, the Chicago Blackhawks had another up-and-down game, this time against the Colorado Avalanche, one of the teams they must beat to repeat as Stanley Cup Champions. After going down two goals before storming back with two of their own (a story already overdone), the Hawks went to overtime… and lost. Again. Not counting shootouts, the Hawks are 0-5 in overtime games. Including shootouts, the Hawks are 4-11. Is this important? Well, just like this article, which detailed the Hawks’ shootout struggles, the answer is an obvious YES!
Looking back at the 2013 season, the reason the Hawks were able to score at least a point in 24-straight games was in part thanks to their ability to win in overtime. However, that has dried up in this season. They’ve had good chances in these overtimes, usually out-shooting their opponents, only for the opponent to win either on a fortuitous bounce, blunder by the Blackhawks, or shootout. Any rally by the Blackhawks dries up in OT.
It seems as if the blunders are a bigger problem. Last night, Niklas Hjalmarsson failed to clear the puck and Tyson Barrie buried the puck in the back of the net. A similar blunder happened against the New York Islanders and Kyle Okposo was the assassin. That one, however, was not on the penalty kill, but it was still a failed clearing attempt.
So, there is a problem. But the question is, why? Why are the Blackhawks not winning in OT? Well, watching the games, it seems as if there is very little urgency. Watching them, it seems as if they’re taking their leisurely time getting the puck to the net, reminiscent of their power play struggles in 2013. Now, urgency does not mean desperation, just a determination to get the job done. And yes, it will be important come the playoffs.
In a perfect world, the Blackhawks should be able to close out games in the third period after a rally or a dominating complete game. Sadly, this is the NHL. The league has a minor reputation for being unpredictable. The Hawks are losing valuable points by losing these games in OT and the shootout. And who knows what could happen in the playoffs.
The Hawks need to fix this overtime problem, and soon. If they can’t win in overtime in the regular season, it might make the psychological problems worse in the playoffs. Sure, they’re getting points, but losing in overtime is not a first world problem.