Reading the box score (minus the score, of course), the Chicago Blackhawks appear to have won against the New York Rangers tonight in Madison Square Garden. Yet, this was a case of not only a deceiving box score, but the Blackhawks being unable to recover from a slow start.
Post-Olympic “hangovers” are common amongst NHL players returning from Olympic competition, so it should be no surprise that the Blackhawks — have 10 Olympians and six medalists returning — would create a disjointed return to NHL action. Yet, while the game began to take form, the Blackhawks could not adjust in time, losing their first contest back 2-1 to a talented New York Rangers team.
Peter Regin was the lone Blackhawks scorer, and he certainly has become the star of the trade that also included Pierre-Marc Bouchard. Switching between second and third line center, Regin played an excellent game. He scored on one of three shots, registered two hits and went 7-for-10 at the faceoff circle.
The Blackhawks will likely return to Chicago and will have a day in between their NHL Stadium Series contest with the Pittsburgh Penguins. And while a loss is always disappointing, the big game environment coupled with a return to home ice (even if it is a technicality) should provide a boost to a Blackhawks team that is still adjusting and bracing themselves for a playoff run.
Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville will likely play around with his lineup before then, as the Blackhawks attempt to meld together once again. Bryan Bickell played a poor game, as did Andrew Shaw. Michal Handzus was a healthy scratch, but should return to third line center. Bickell had a -1 goal differential and didn’t offer much during his 14 shifts.
The Blackhawks have sat him down before, and the idea becomes more likely if Shaw cannot perform at center. Shaw was also a -1 and also was an abysmal 22.2 percent from the faceoff circle. The Blackhawks are best served keeping him at wing, especially during big games.
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