For the third time this season, the final score showed the Anaheim Ducks with one goal more than the Chicago Blackhawks. This loss, a 2-1 defeat at the United Center, may force the organization to shake up the lineup.
Friday night’s game-winning goal left the stick of Sheldon Souray and was re-directed when it broke Niklas Hjalmarsson’s stick with just over two minutes left in the third period.
Ray Emery took his first loss of the season, but was really good in defeat. He stopped 22 of 24 Anaheim shots, including a few big saves when sloppy passing in front of him led to excellent chances for the Ducks.
His counterpart, Jonas Hiller, stopped 25 of 26 shots to earn the victory.
During the game, Viktor Stalberg replaced Michael Frolik on the Hawks’ top line with Jonathan Toews and Brandon Saad. Unfortunately, Stalberg was hit in the face by an attempted Ryan Getzlaf clear with just over six minutes left in the third period. He immediately left the bench and did not return.
Toews had another strong game while playing on a line with Saad and [fill-in-the-blank], winning 14 of 20 faceoffs. He was also credited with three takeaways.
Brent Seabrook played his most physical game in some time, and was credited with five big hits. There were more mental lapses, though, one of which almost cost the Hawks a goal; Seabrook was left in the dust by Emerson Etem, who sprinted past him and was able to get a pretty good shot on net.
Patrick Kane scored the only Blackhawks’ goal in the game. He is the only player in the NHL to have two eight-game point streaks this season.
Friday night marked the first time since February 24-25 that Saad failed to register a point in consecutive games. It was also only the second time in March that he had a negative plus-minus rating.
The Blackhawks need to get healthy, but there are other glaring issues.
With Hossa and Sharp out, the Hawks offense has become predictable and the depth that had been so dangerous earlier in the season has become silent. In four games without Hossa, the Hawks have been outscored 11-7 and have only two points (1-3-0). In fact, Kane, Toews and Frolik have accounted for six of the Hawks’ seven goals (and Frolik’s two goals came while skating on a line with Toews).
Perhaps more telling, three of the seven games in which the Hawks have been held to fewer than 27 shots this entire season have come in the last four games, and the power play has been awful (2-15).
The bottom six forwards for the Hawks have disappeared. But they aren’t the only players struggling.
Dave Bolland had a fantastic opportunity to get a quality shot on net late in the game, but tried to make a pretty, blind, backwards pass through traffic instead. He won nine of 14 faceoffs against Anaheim, but appears to have little/no confidence in his ability to score; Bolland has now played 14 games since his last goal, which came on February 15 against the Sharks.
It was another rough night for the pair of Johnny Oduya and Hjalmarsson as well. There were both minus-two in the game, continuing a trend for the duo. In the last four Blackhawks games, Oduya is minus-eight and Hjalmarsson is minus-six.
If Stalberg can’t go in Detroit on Sunday, it might be time for Jeremy Morin to get a call. Entering Friday night’s game, Morin had 11 goals and seven assists in his last 12 games with the IceHogs, including six powerplay goals. The Blackhawks placed Hossa on IR on Friday, which would open a roster spot for someone from Rockford.
Unless a trade happens in the next 24 hours, Morin might need to be the spark for the stagnant Chicago offense.