It’s hard to say if last night’s loss against the San Jose Sharks was disappointing, but considering how bad the Chicago Blackhawks have been as of late, it was excellent to see the team fight back so quickly when surrendering a shorthanded Joe Pavelski goal.
Barely over a minute later, however, Brandon Saad found the back of the net, solidifying another great game for the Blackhawks future star. It marked Saad’s 40th point, making him the team’s sixth leading scorer. On the second power play unit with Kris Versteeg, he will continue to solidify the Blackhawks’ power play, which remains in the league’s top five.
Saad, however, was a bright light amidst many of the same struggles that has likely removed the Blackhawks from Presidents Cup contention. For one, the Blackhawks were outhit 30-to-9, despite lacking sustained puck possession at key times, including overtime, thanks to sloppy passing. Chicago gave the puck away 20 times lasts night, allowing a struggling San Jose offense to unleash 39 shots on Corey Crawford.
Crawford was the Blackhawks’ MVP last night, as the team will certainly need him to be going forward. For the Blackhawks’ next game against the Los Angeles Kings, Crawford will again have to be huge. Assuming he gets the start, it will be his first game against the Kings this season.
With Antti Raanta in net, the Blackhawks have allowed only one goal in two contests against the Kings this year, but have scored all four of their goals in the first period. For the Blackhawks to earn two points rather than one, expect Joel Quenneville to emphasize a simple chip and chase strategy less reliant on cross-ice passing. That offensive strategy, coupled with another excellent Crawford performance, will likely result in a Blackhawks win that the team desperately needs.
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