The first game back after a three-week layoff can be a problem. Unfortunately, the Chicago Blackhawks fell victim to that little problem last night in a 2-1 loss against the New York Rangers. In a sluggish game that almost resulted in a shutout by Rangers backup goalie Max Talbot, the Hawks fell into some bad habits and could generate almost no offense until the end.
Despite peppering Talbot’s net, he easily stepped into Henrik Lundqvist‘s shoes and delivered. Unfortunately, it was either the Hawks’ miscalculating or their fatigue and rust that prevented them from getting anything past him until just seconds left in the game, scored interestingly enough by newcomer Peter Regin. Patrick Kane would have scored near the end, but Talbot was quick enough to stop the determined Kane.
Despite peppering Talbot, the offense just could not get sustained pressure going. Not even multiple power play opportunities could help them out at all. For much of the game, it looked as if they were phoning it in.
Yet, there is plenty of praise for the defense, but I was almost reminded of the still-fresh frustration of the USA-Canada game where one team dominated despite only scoring one goal (even though this was a 2-1 loss) and the team that was essentially better, was shut down completely. In fact, part of me wants to believe this was Ryan Callahan and Ryan McDonagh‘s payback against Jonathan Toews, Patrick Sharp and Duncan Keith.
Ridiculous, silly and obviously untrue hypotheses aside, this was a frustrating game to watch and sadly a continuation of their January struggles. You could argue that the problem in this game was simply the fatigue and rust factor, but with a big game against the Pittsburgh Penguins tomorrow night and the St. Louis Blues‘ acquisition of one Ryan Miller, there should be some urgency coming from the Blackhawks now. But this one game does not help at all.