Blackhawks Buried By Avalanche

With the trade deadline less than 24 hours away, the Blackhawks dropped an important divisional game against the Colorado Avalanche 4-2 at the United Center on Tuesday night.

Jonathan Toews led all Blackhawks forwards, skating 21:13 in the loss. He scored a power play goal to tie the game at two in the third period, his 22nd of the season, and won 10 of 19 faceoffs.

Ben Smith scored the first goal for the Blackhawks, his eighth of the season coming late in the second period and tying the game at one. Smith was involved in five faceoffs, winning three, in 13:20 in the game. His five faceoffs were the third-highest total on the Chicago roster in the game.

Michal Handzus, back on the second line, won only five of 15 draws. He remained with Marcus Kruger on the Hawks’ top penalty kill line and Smith played in the place of Marian Hossa - primarily with Toews - while the Hawks were short-handed. Chicago allowed one power play goal, the game-winner to Tyson Barrie in the third period, in three penalty kills.

Corey Crawford, still wearing his Stadium Series pads because his regular equipment is still missing, stopped 17 of 20 shots. Semyon Varlamov stopped 36 of 38 in the victory.

Maxime Talbot, Ryan O’Reilly and Paul Stastny also scored for Colorado, who have won seven of ten and three in a row.

Also on Tuesday night, the Blues defeated the Lightning 4-2 to pull two points in front of the Hawks for the top spot in the Western Conference. St. Louis still has two games in-hand on Chicago. With the victory, Colorado pulled to within one point of the Hawks in the standing and the Avs have one game in-hand.

The Hawks host Columbus on Thursday night.

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48 Responses to Blackhawks Buried By Avalanche

  1. Pete says:

    Oduya with a bad unnecessary penalty in the third. That killed the Hawks tonight coupled with Crawford letting in a couple of unscreened shots while looking right at them.

  2. Sr. Brad says:

    Originally, I didn’t think the Hossa injury was going to hurt the Hawks because I made the mistake of assuming the Hawks would call up the red hot Morin (scored yet again tonight)…but they didn’t…they put Zus as 2nd line centre and Regin as 3rd line centre and moved Shaw to wing…the result? A loss at home in a CRUCIAL game…Crawford was badly outplayed by the Avs goalie, while the doubled up the Avs with shots…

    The Hawks simply cannot go the next 3 weeks with this lineup…Zus is DONE as a 2nd line player, and an everyday player…he stunk as 2nd line centre, and we are not getting any production out of Kane as a result…Regin can centre the 2nd line until Hoss comes back, but we need a real replacement for Saad on the 3rd line…

    If the Hawks don’t make a change to this particular lineup, this losing is likely to continue…

    And why a 2nd for Rundblad and Brisbois…that’s overpaying big time IMO and for what??? 8 DMen again? Unless this is the forefront for a major deal, this doesn’t make ANY sense…

  3. Dickie Dunn says:

    Unfortunate redirect, Keith mistake, and bad penalty…I don’t think they played awful.

    I tend to agree with Sr. Brad about Handzus – his play has been awful (except *maybe* penalty killing?). I have no idea if Morin is the answer, but it sure looks like Kane and Versteeg would be more effective with a different center.

    I don’t know much about Rundblad and Brisbois, but it seems at one time Rundblad was considered a good prospect, and they’re both young. Either way, I don’t see the need for an 8th d-man.

  4. ebonyraptor says:

    Colorado is a bad matchup for the Hawks. My gut says if the Hawks get the Avs in the first round, especially if Colorado has home ice – the Hawks will lose. Colorado plays as fast, if not faster than the Hawks and they have a better goalie. One and done is a real possibility.

    And then there’s: “we don’t want 8 d-men, it doesn’t give us flexibility and we don’t want a d-man playing forward” followed a couple days later with “we’ve acquired Rundblad and we’ll go with 8 d-men the rest of the way”. But at least we’re not the clown show in Vancouver … so we have that going for us … which is nice.

  5. wall says:

    Yup- Avs better than Hawks – cuz better goalie…

    “4th line” great again

    The Rundblad deal says- “one of 8,27, 32 is gone by next year” (guessing 27) – Hell, the smartest move might be to trade 7 ( If the Hawks actually think Johns is that “ready” to step in and play- and Keith wouldn’t be a bad guy to cover his “mistakes”)… on paper Rundblad appears to be a good fit- and Right handed!

    At least 29- skated like a $1.75M dollar player vs. a $500k guy last nite…

    I think someone said in past- Hossa is the key!!!

  6. Phil says:

    Another one of those games where the Hawks outplayed Avs much of the time, yet could not seal the deal. Clearly CC was outplayed and that was pretty much the reason we lost a very close game. No puck luck around net despite lots of rebounds laying around. The problem when up against a strong keeper is there has to be more traffic to distract. Shaw appeared to be getting under the skin of Varlamov and Toews did his best in that vein. Shooting low on shots coming in from the wings also makes some sense as they can’t be so easily controlled or gloved to stop play. More rebounds come out. Guys like Varlamov are tough to beat when they can see the play in front of them and are allowed to setup. Toews had a very good game and there was no let down in him last night. Hawks will always miss Hossa. He is not replaceable. Zus was rightly abused for his play last night, and has become a liability more than an asset. I had some time over the weekend, and queued up game 4 from the finals against Boston. Apart from the fact this was a fantastic game to watch with incredible pace, what really stood out to me was how much faster MH was last year compared with this season. Night and day. Zus is simply too slow to keep up with the play. This must be driving Kane absolutely nuts. I would rather see Regin play 2 center. TT can’t get here soon enough. I didn’t like the interference call on Oduya from my angle at the game. Looked liked he was jostling for position as much as Avs player, but it might have looked worse on TV. 3rd Avs goal was a rocket. I thought Bollig was a much more effective player out there last night than Bickell. Not acceptable, but we still have time for Bicks to get it together. I don’t see how Morin hurts the Hawks with Hoss down. Give Zus some time off for playoffs. This was a tough loss and important points flipped to a divisional foe. Keep the faith guys.

    Lets Go Hawks!

  7. Pete says:

    The Rundblad move could just be a preface to getting rid of Brookbank.

  8. noonan96 says:

    I agree that the key point with 26 isn’t so much how slow he is but how his play impacts the psyche of 88-we need an engaged, optimistic Kaner to make the Hawks a tough match up.
    Coach Q and staff, including Bowman must know more than us and are loyal but this is a head scratcher.
    Now that their 2nd pick is gone they can’t get rid of their first. Didn’t think they could get Kesler but this confirms. Perhaps he’s not traded today.

  9. goldenbladz says:

    Handzus simply has no place on this team. What he did last year is the past just like Madden performed well and then he must go. Kane and Versteeg need a centre that can move like they do, maybe give PMB a chance. It can’t be worse than Handzus. I also have no problem with Oduya being moved and hopefully keep Leddy.

  10. michael petan says:

    Any team that can skate with the Hawks will give them problems. Avs are one of those teams, they not only skate with speed they have size. Very simple formula to beat the Hawks or any NHL team, score first, don’t turn the puck over, don’t get short handed and you will be within one goal. Hawks love to out skate and work but when they face a similar designed team with SIZE any team would have a challenge. HADZUS should not be on penalty kill, too slow, skilled but slow, need Need size and closing speed of FRO-LEKEEEE. Try Regan there?

  11. AJ says:

    Whelp Varlamov is kind of good at his position. Not the best game in general anyway. I reserve judgment until the deadline has passed.

  12. wall says:

    And one of the few losses this year that falls on Crow!

    Regin on PK- is worth a look… he does look like he is a decent skater… if he has the drive/heart and IQ of 16/28… Regin could be decent.

    But for those who thought Avs- were pretenders… they can play… skate/skill/size/goalie…
    and are a lot more disciplined w Roy vs. past!!! They have “rope-a-doped” the Hawks a couple of times so far this year… I don’t like the match-up in 1st round!!! Only advantage Hawks will have is experience.

  13. Rufus T. Firefly says:

    A bad game, period. The thing is the Hawks don’t do well against teams with speed all over the place on their roster. Which is a bit ironic given that the Hawks can skate. But the Hawks never match up well against the Avs.

    Hawks will indeed miss Hossa badly.

    Crawford had a lousy game.

    As suspected, I think the Hawks are going to limp into the playoffs, then hope they can flip a switch and get the job done. Dangerous strategy, but maybe the only option?!?

    Disappointed that the Olympic break didn’t have more of a recovery benefit for some players.

  14. JS says:

    The Hawks have dominated the Avs every time they have played this year. Varlamov has something ridiculous like a .966 s% against the Hawks this year. That isn’t sustainable. Let us also not forget that regular season does not = playoffs. The Hawks used the Wings to wipe their butts last year and they didn’t get past them until Game 7 in Overtime.

    The only goal Crawford probably should have stopped was the first one. And that was still a perfect redirect from 15 feet out. Sure would have been nice if he stopped one of the other goals, but I don’t expect a goalie to stop ROR on a breakaway or a blasted one timer from a blown penalty kill coverage.

    Quite simply, the Avalanche pounced on two bad mistakes and that was the difference in the game. They were completely outplayed but took advantage of the mistakes the Hawks did make.

    On the trade front. Rufus might be right about Leddy getting dealt. Rundblad and Leddy can not play together. They are too similar of players. Will be interesting to see what happens.

  15. Peter says:

    This isn’t fair to Crawford, but I just knew O’Reilly would score.

    Our D-Men cant cheat and leave Crawford on an island, although Keith’s cheat was pretty bad.

    Varlamov played outstanding.

  16. Pete says:

    How come nobody is calling out Oduya on that stupid uncalled for penalty. I yelled at the tv the moment I saw it and I could just feel that it would be a killer and it was.

  17. scottie p says:

    Not adding was a mistake. This team needs a shot in the arm. Especially with the additions the other contenders are making. Stan overconfident in his group. No cup this year if you ask me. Legwand shoulda been targeted.

  18. JS says:

    I think Legwand is being targeted.

    Remember guys, every other team is trying to catch the Hawks, not the other way around.

    The Hawks played really well last night. Shouldn’t really be teetering over the edge because of one loss.

  19. wall says:

    Thought the game had great pace… and Avs did exactly what Pens didn’t do… Forwards back-checked well and supported D…

    Didn’t think Vmov was great… Avs just limited “good” scoring chances. And just like the past matches (rope-a-doped) and capitalized on fewer/but better chances… and Avs have great High end skill… don’t need a lot of “good” chances to win.

    especially if Crow let’s in a borderline/softie

  20. wall says:

    JS- I thought both teams played very well… There goalie was just better.

    Only worry is that your “4th” line continues to be the second best line on the ice!!!
    Either speaks to the “greatness” of that line or the “weaknesses” of the 2nd/3rd…

    THAT should be a CONCERN!!!

  21. Phil says:

    Actually Wall, the Hawks had plenty of quality chances and could have potted 3-5 last night easy, and that would have won the game. The first period had the Hawks all over the Av’s, but nothing to show for it. Not the first time this year that has happened. Varlomov positioning was very good, and Hawks had no luck with rebounds. In games like that Hawks need to work harder to get those greasy goals. Heh Bicks, you out there?
    Shaw line had low ice time I think.

  22. Negzz says:

    Aggravating game to watch as Varlamov has Hawks number and match-ups vs speed team is hard for us. Crow continues to be mediocre and 2 of 3 should have beens topped. Book on CC continues to be 5-hole + glove side (smaller pads seem to be problematic for him opening more center hole space, which is clearly evident in shootouts.) Sorry to say this team will not repeat without some changes (which I doubt are coming in view of time/day of this post today.) I hear JS when he reminds that playoffs are dif’t that reg season, but this team needs add’l C help (no news flash there.)

    As for rumors, doubt Kesler comes here (although I’d happily pay the price of 29+8+McNeil to get him and it would make Rundblad buy logical.) I am still in the camp that TTY will not be ready for 2C duties in NHL next year, so this 2C issue is not going to go away unless we acquire top-6 talent in that respect. We’ll see….

  23. Sr. Brad says:

    JS, Rundblad can play here with Leddy on the roster…Stan’s plan might just be that he moves Oduya this summer (guaranteed IMO), Leddy gets promoted to the 2nd pairing with Hammer, and Rundblad takes the 3rd pairing with whomever…

    BUT, and this is a huge but, where does that leave Clendening…and what is the deal with Bowman…pushing and touting his farm system and then blocking them at every turn with mediocre trades…Clendening CANNOT spend another year in the AHL…he’s ready and needs to be promoted…Klas Dahlbeck is definitely ready (largely a stay at home DMan, but can push the play) as well…there is NO ROOM for a timid, underachieving Rundblad, even if we move Oduya…

    That’s why I smell a trade today…none of this makes any sense, unless there’s a trade…and the Handzus/Regin thing has to stop…both in the lineup together only make our team worse…if Regin plays then Zus has to sit…

    And what about Morin…does anyone here even know his numbers over the last 6 weeks??? They are off the charts…how does this kid sit and waste in Rockford when he should be playing for us?

    Not understanding/liking Bowman’s moves over the last while…

    Wall, Phil is right, the Avs goalie won them that game…he wasn’t just adequate, he was outstanding…CC was not good at all…and that happens far too much to the Hawks…we lose the goalie battle most games…when CC sees a hot goalie at the other end, he too has to stand on his head…the great ones have always done this…

  24. Sr. Brad says:

    If Negzz is right and TT isn’t ready to play THIS year, then the Hawks will have to pull the trigger on a 2nd line centre if they want to repeat this season…Regin isn’t the guy and if there’s an injury we will have to depend upon Zus full time and that’s a disaster waiting to happen…Regin doesn’t know the first thing about winning a championship, nada, to rely on him come playoff time to lead Patrick Kane is asking for trouble.

    Today, if Bowman has to part with Bickell, Leddy, McNeill and a top pick in the 2015 draft, he should make the deal. Kesler puts us over the top…amazing that 4 full years after winning our 1st Cup in a long time, we are still struggling with the 2nd line Centre spot…

  25. Sr. Brad says:

    The Rangers just acquired St. Louis for Callahan, a 1st and a 2nd…

  26. JS says:

    Brad- What I was implying was that they can’t be on a pairing together THIS year. That’s why I don’t understand why he wasn’t sent to the AHL unless the plan is to give Leddy/Oduya some time off down the stretch.

    If you look at his possession metrics on a pretty bad possession team, he looks really good. 55% CF. On a team that’s underwater, that’s outstanding.

    Also, from bloggers in Phoenix, SJ, LA, and Vancouver, they think the Hawks got a steal with this guy. He doesn’t fit Tippet’s system, but he has crazy talent and should be able to play on the possession minded Hawks. He’s also really cheap and controlled until next year and he’ll still be a RFA.

    Anyway, this move really makes me think that the’ll be moving a defensemen today. I can’t imagine them moving Oduya (or Seabrook) mid season. That’s why I think it might be Leddy with the hope that Rundblad can replace him.

  27. Peter says:

    With the number of deals the Hawks have made leading up to today, I think there is another trade happening today and I think it could be a fairly regular D-Man moving…I don’t know about Kesler (would love him, I just don’t think that gets done to the Hawks); but I have a feeling something will go down that will shake up the big club a little bit. The Hawks have enough skill right now to win another Cup…there is just something missing (drive, tenacity,…). I just don’t think we can “flip the switch” in the playoffs and be ready.

  28. morrison says:

    Scott/JS, I think Legwand, Neilson and others are being looked at. Not just Kesler, and what ever he would take those guys would be for less… (Although I had a dream/for real, last night that PHI traded for Kesler then made a deal with us)

    JS, that’s right all other teams wernt as deep as Chicago (all of the top teams are not as deep as last yr, not just us). They needed to add those players to have similar depth. The 2 teams that did have as much/about same depth now but not more.

    Brad, I would rather do a 1st in ’14 draft, because the ’15 draft is way better.

  29. Phil says:

    While some here would call it crazy I would send Sharp, Hayes, Johns, Brookbank, draft picks for Kesler.

  30. Tab Bamford says:

    I’ll take the bait, Phil. You’re a f***ing lunatic

  31. Sr. Brad says:

    Phil, that is crazy…

    JS, I agree, he shouldn’t be paired with Leddy, so if he’s on the roster, where does he play…Leddy doesn’t need time off, Rozy does…as you say, very interesting…

    I don’t like the 2nd round price on Rundblad..yes, I have also heard that he’s not welcomed in the desert, but that he also wilts under a strong forecheck…3 teams have come to that determination…obviously Bowman knows with our back check from the forwards, our D are helped out a ton and the pressure is lessened…if Rundblad can excel with our D-friendly system, he might just turn out as a nice addition, but again…

    WHERE DOES HE FIT??? Clendening is for real…and then there’s Dahlbeck and Johns…

  32. JS says:

    Hahaha yes Phil, we would call you crazy.

    Kesler is capable of being very good, but he’s way too hurty and not worth that much of a haul. Sharp is highly underrated by Blackhawks fans.

  33. Phil says:

    I knew I could reel you guys in…

  34. Phil says:

    Trade fever has everyone on edge.

  35. MS says:

    I didn’t see the game last night but it looks like a rerun – Hawks throw lots of shots at the opponent, can’t get the lead, give up one or more questionable goals and lose a close game. I read a rumor of the Hawks interest in Manny Malhotra from Carolina. I have always liked Malhotra as a tough hard-nosed player. If this happens then it must be the end for Zus. I can’t believe SB is ready to head to the playoffs with Zus at 2C. I also don’t see Kesler happening. After the Luongo debacle Gillis may be on his way out and any trade partner will have to overpay big time to get him to pull the trigger.

    Wall – I will stop referring to 52/16/28 as the 4th line as you have properly pointed out they are clearly the 3rd line (and playing very well for a 3rd line!).

  36. JS says:

    Brad- That’s why I think Leddy might be on the move today.

    Don’t forget 2 teams also traded a 1st rounder for Rundblad.

    If things stay as is, I imagine Oduya gets moved in the offseason, Clendening takes that roster spot and Rundblad becomes the 7th defensemen and Johns a year in the AHL? No idea on Dhalbeck.

  37. Joey Zamboni says:

    Hate to say it but CC cost the game last night. At worst hawks should’ve won 2-1. CC just can’t let those 2 in thru the 5-hole. I know it’s easy for me to say sitting comfortably in my living room, but those 2 goals were so deflating to the rest of the team……

    CC can play out of this world at times, but then……??

    I will give him the benefit of the doubt tho, he has bailed the the team out in the past, lets hope he learns he has to focus more. JMHO…..

  38. wall says:

    David Run-bad skate good… everything I read says this kid can play O but needs work on D… seems like a Cdening clone… But better skater!!!
    Perhaps Cdening is moved in Package w/27 or 8…

  39. Sr. Brad says:

    From the Hawks practise today…

    Looks like some possible line mixes. Saad-Toews-Shaw, Sharp-Handzus-Kane, Bickell-Regin-Versteeg, Bollig-Kruger-Smith

    Having Zus centre Sharp and Kane is beyond ridiculous…what a perfect way to nullify two of your top scorers instead on just one…Q can’t be this stupid or stubborn…something has to give today…Regin centring the 3rd, makes it our 4th line now…

    What happened to the days when we had Pirri and Morin, essentially never lost a game in regulation, and had depth…to me they seem like a pipe dream now…

  40. Sr. Brad says:

    Wall, I hope we don’t trade Clendening…way too good to move…remember Bowman drafted him ahead of Saad in the 2nd round…TT and Clendening should be off limits…I would add Hayes/Johns in that list too…

  41. JS says:

    Brad, I’m going to need you to take two steps back from the ledge.

    Also, remember you have to trade prospects to get talent in return (unless you are trading with Florida). I’d say TT is untouchable, but that’s about it.

  42. Sr. Brad says:

    JS, what was your first thought when you read Zus centring Kane and Sharp??? And wouldn’t that be at least a nudge to edge of the ledge???

  43. JS says:

    The way I see it, Q wants Shaw to play more and maybe get something positive going. He doesn’t give a damn about Bickell’s minutes (even though a guy in front of Varlamov would have been good yesterday). So now once Handzus runs out of gas after playing 6 minutes, he can swap Regin and Handzus.

    He doesn’t really have another choice since forcing the Pirri trade. We all know Q would also rather use both Regin and Handzus every day than put Morin on a wing.

    Sure, it’s aggravating, but trying to figure out why the hell Q is doing what he’s doing is starting to make my brain leak out of my ear.

  44. Phil says:

    We should take bets to see if Q skates that line with Zus centering Sharp and Kaner. Seems to bizarre to negate those 2 guys with Zus.

  45. morrison says:

    I think Q is trying options to see what works & doesn’t, so he knows what doesn’t work and goes with the options that do…

    If 10 & 88 are on a line and they both start playing better (for them) then we have the same lines we did in ’13 when 81 is in. Shawzer might center the 10/88 line and 26 (52?) is the extra fw. Plus wouldn’t that be cool if all of a sudden the 29-12-23 line play good together. I am rooting for that 3rd line to work good together because we know what we have with the 20-19-81 & 10/88 lines from ’13 season.

    I know we do not want to throw away pts/seed but were not really. Its more important to find out if these combos work better or not for when it really matters.

    We need Kaner to kick ass & if that means 20 with 19/81 & 10 on his line, then that’s what we need to do. I am really routing for that 29-12-23 line, maybe they do well and we have our missing 3rd line back again.

  46. morrison says:

    Steeger can get moar min by being on the PK.

  47. Sr. Brad says:

    Really, a simple solution would be to have Regin centre the 2nd line, and promote Morin to play wing on the 3rd with Shaw and Bickell…a friend called last night about the Morin snub this week…I told him I was at a loss to explain how the best/hottest player in the AHL wasn’t called up in light of Hoss’s injury and our recent scoring drought. He had some interesting observations about Q, and how others view the Pirri/Morin situation and the relationship between Q and Bowman…

    Q’s refusal to call up/play Morin, with us giving away points playing Zus at 2nd centre, is silly, actually.

  48. Phil says:

    Wasn’t Regin brought in to assume 2C duties? Why not give it a few games? I agree with Brad on this one. If there are no trades. Morin should get some ice time with the big club. Otherwise Q is jeopardizing points we should be winning. Not sure what battles with SB are worth fighting for in such a close div and conf race.

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