Chicago Blackhawks’ Depth Getting Badly Outplayed
The captain has scored three times in those three games, and he — along with linemates Marian Hossa and Bryan Bickell — have generally dominated in terms of puck possession when they have been on the ice. Thus far, Toews has been more effective than his Kings counterpart Anze Kopitar.
Chicago is trailing 2-1 in this series because Toews’ line hasn’t gotten any help. Patrick Sharp has continued his apparent vacation, having yet to show up for the playoffs sans a nice stretch toward the end of the second round against the Minnesota Wild (notwithstanding a meaningless goal at the end of Game 3). Patrick Kane hasn’t registered a point in the series and is a minus-3. In fairness to Kane and Sharp, they have been saddled at even strength with the 5-on-5 disaster that is Michal Handzus; the two Patricks are essentially forced to play offense as if they are shorthanded.
On the third line, Brandon Saad has been unremarkable outside of Game 1, and Kris Versteeg hasn’t contributed anything. These two, along with the just-returned Andrew Shaw, are supposed to be the foundation of Chicago’s bottom six. Los Angeles has neutralized them completely in the last two games.
The fourth line isn’t called on to do very much, but it would be nice to see a little more offensive zone time out of them; the trio of Marcus Kruger, Ben Smith and Brandon Bollig wasn’t the best fourth line in the NHL during the regular season for no reason.
Finally, Corey Crawford needs to start making some big saves again. He’s certainly allowed to have a rough few games (so to speak) in light of the fact that he is the biggest reason the Blackhawks have even made it this far, but he will need to be better for them to topple Los Angeles and move on to the Stanley Cup Final.
There is a lot of room for improvement, and the Blackhawks tend to do just that as they play an opponent more and more. Chicago’s record in the fourth through seventh games of playoff series since 2010 speaks for itself.
It’s time for everyone to get going again.
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