Special Teams Fail (Again), Hawks Fall in Minnesota

The Blackhawks erased a two-goal deficit after 38 lifeless minutes, but their special teams once again failed as the Wild earned a 4-3 victory in Minnesota on Thursday night.

Jeremy Morin MIN

Chicago was short-handed three times in the game, allowing two goals including the game-tying goal late in the third period. Minnesota scored 41 and 43 seconds into two of their power plays, continuing an increasingly disturbing trend of mediocre special teams being the Blackhawks’ Achilles heel.

Joakim Nordstrom was recalled in place of Brandon Pirri, and the hope was that he could step into the penalty kill unit again. But he had a rough night, winning only one of five faceoffs and skating only 13 shifts. He struggled to handle the puck and clear the zone throughout the night, which will only raise more questions about what Pirri has to do to stick with the NHL club.

Jeremy Morin, also recalled before the game, spent 1:03 of his 8:17 on the ice on power play duty. A Patrick Kane shot that was redirected by Nordstrom found Morin in front of the net for his first goal of the season and the Hawks’ first of the night late in the second period.

Morin’s goal ignited a seven minute stretch of excellent hockey from the Hawks that included three goals. Brandon Saad unleashed a missile only 43 seconds into the third period to tie the game, and Marian Hossa buried a power play goal less than six minutes later to give the Hawks the lead.

Unfortunately, Brent Seabrook was sent to the box late in the period and Jonas Brodin tied the game. Marco Scandella buried his first goal of the year less than four minutes later for the game-winning tally.

Corey Crawford made a number of big saves in the second and third periods, but made only 19 saves against 23 shots to take the loss. For the first time in 30 games, the Hawks have lost consecutive games in regulation.

With Andrew Shaw and Michal Handzus out of the lineup, coach Joel Quenneville mixed his lines early and often. The night started with Kris Versteeg at center between Saad and Kane, and Versteeg handled himself well. He won five of 10 faceoffs and passed the puck well throughout the game.

Versteeg was credited with the primary assist on Hossa’s goal, but was limited to 15:39 on the night. Ben Smith skated 15:09 and took nine faceoffs, winning only three. Saad lost all three of his faceoffs in the game. Marcus Kruger won six of ten faceoffs in the game and recorded another blocked shot.

Sheldon Brookbank skated only 4:59 in the game.

In net for the Wild, Josh Harding allowed three goals against only 19 shots to earn the victory. The Blackhawks were held to four shots in the third period by a stifling Wild defense that was credited with 17 blocked shots in the game.

The Blackhawks will need to turn it up physically on Friday night when they return to the United Center. After totaling only six hits in Minnesota, the Hawks will face the Anaheim Ducks less than 24 hours later at home.

29 thoughts on “Special Teams Fail (Again), Hawks Fall in Minnesota

  1. I heard Bowman is on the phone trying to pick up Madden and Sopel for the PK!!!

    Captain Serious has been pretty average in last 6-7 games…
    coincidentally the Hawks have been pretty average in last few…

    Can someone please chain Crow to the net… he really scares me when he plays the puck.

    I told you Morin needs to play on the top two lines to score (any line w 88 or 81 on it is a top two line).

    Why do the other teams score on all of these 60 foot shots so much???

  2. Even when were down 3 or 2 goals these past games, we have come back everytime & deserved a tie/win in both games. Just need a bounce/call to go our way, after we come back.

    We need pk practice (at johnysicehouse). Get healthy again and when Bicks come back we’ll really benefit from the Steeger trade.

  3. PK continues to struggle. Sharp and Versteeg continue to not have time on the PK… but that’s ok, Q wants Nordstrom on the PK unit and he knows best since he has 2 SC rings(even though Bowman specifically said that Versteeg was acquired to help with the pk).

    On the game winning goal, new 2C Kris Versteeg was lazy along the boards and failed to clear a puck from the d zone. Good thing there was a defensively responsible center on the ice. Oh, he’s not a center? Oh, they demoted an actual center when two centers were hurt/sick? Well then.

    Wall- reason they score on 60 foot shots? They hit the net.
    Unrelated, Toews has also been completely mediocre, as you said.

  4. ^ I sound very complainy. The Hawks will be fine. They need to fix the PK and if that means putting Sharp and Versteeg out there, they have to do it. No more f’ing around with rookies.

  5. I don’t like seeing Brookbank out there at all, and even less at forward. With young players you never know for sure when their upside will kick in so at least you can say the Hawks are developing them and giving them time so they can hopefully help the team more later in the year. With Brookbank its basically just putting a bad player out there and then stressing the rest of the lines because you can’t play him. (only 5 minutes on the ice) Now the Ducks come to town after being off two days. I find it hard to believe that the Hawks don’t have a better option than Brookbank to put out there. I have said my peace, GO HAWKS.

  6. JS- “they hit the net” or did you mean to say the D-men actually get the shot to the net!

    JS- I know you are a HALF FULL/and I am a Half empty guy… BUT I am very concerned about Hawks… Sharp is NOT finishing, Toews looks slow and beaten down, (and if you are gonna call Vsteeg out on GWG- I will call 19 out for a COMPLETE lack of effort (he quit)- on Cooke’s first goal… 24 and 19 went down together – way behind play- Cooke got up and raced 150 feet down the ice to trail and score- while the Captain was coasting near center ice!!!!) NOT a CAPTAIN’s effort!!! If that were 37/11 he would have been benched for rest of game!!!!

    I actually thought 23 had a very good game as 2nd center-

    Back to why I am concerned… PK is awful, Best shooter 10- is not shooting well- best intensity guy 19- is not intense (as above evidence shows)- 17 is skating as forward…
    AND LOOK at the record vs. Division… Hawks are getting killed inside the Division!


  7. That was not a pretty game to watch last night. It was boring hockey. Wild season ticket holders are a tough bunch to endure that on a regular basis. Another sluggish start suggests the guys are a bit tired right now. Not an excuse as every team deals with the long grinding season. While it has been stated above the Pirri send down did not look good last night as Nordstrom was dreadful in in the d zone. At least 3-4 bad ideas with clearing attempts. Crow is not seeing the puck very well the past few games. This was a game where good goal tending wins you one. Raanta between pipes tonight?

    Hawks almost stole a point/points last night. Instead they gave it away. At this point when we go to the box I almost expect other teams to score. That is a dangerous trend that needs to be fixed with Hawks PK.

    It was also a good observation that the Cpt has not been at his best the past few games. He clearly did not have the normal jump last night. Could be he is sick or nursing a nagging injury. Didn’t he take a nasty cross check in the lower back on the road trip? I think it was against the Nucks. Edler?? Yes, that was it. Toews does not take games off so it is one of the above IMO.

    Hawks need to work on shooting the damn puck more, especially in between the rings. Secondly, they need to spend more time practicing hitting the net. So many great chances shot high or wide. Since there hasn’t been much practice time due to rough schedule, this is something that needs work along with the special teams. At least PP is better this year, but my god the PK is just painful. To me eyes Hawks play a passive box that allows opposition to get way to many good looks and passes to guys that can find open lanes. I guess the key word for me here is passive. Way to damn passive. Fro is missed for sure, but we have enough wheels to plug someone in to that role. This area of the Hawks game must improve. The good news is it can’t get any worse. Lots pucks also hitting our guys and getting deflected into the net. That comes and goes as do bounces on the other end.

    I love watching Hossa score goals like last night. Those are the kind of shots that you actually hear zip through the air when you are close. Saad short side high under the bar was also a beauty. Kid needs to shoot more, but his puck control skills have soared this year. Sharpy could have a few last night again…

    Ducks D corps is reduced. Hawks should pot 3 plus on this unit. Have to believe we will see a stronger effort tonight. Weird schedule with this home and away rotation, but we at least get 2 in a row at the UC this weekend.

    Lets Go Hawks!

  8. The Hawks look really drained, not so much tired but drained physically and mentally. After what seemed like forever between games at the beginning the Hawks are now in the middle of a stretch of 19 games in 31 days with 12 of those games on the road. That’s a heavy stretch of games and travel. I am sure all teams can point to scheduling difficulties, but ours is now and we have 2 important starters on the shelf.

    I worry about the load that Toews, Hossa and Sharp have to carry. Hossa is always a hard board check away from the IR and Toews just puts himself into position to get clobbered. The need to add 3-5 extra minutes for these guys is dangerous. It will be good to get Bicks, Shaw and Kostka back. They can take some minutes.

    This leads me to the Olympics and why I hate what has happened to them. First, the Olympics was and should be for amateurs. I don’t care if other countries (Russians, Chinese) cheat. It makes beating them that much better. The Hawks could have as many as 10 players in the Olympics. Those games are as physically demanding as the NHL. I don’t blame owners for being somewhat upset. Every player who gets hurt in the Olympics should have their pay withheld for every game they miss due to the games.

    Ok guys, bash me over this post, I can take it.

  9. It may be possible that Toews is injured and just trying to play throught it. He hasn’t looked himself in the last 7 games or so.

  10. Phil- exactly!
    But the 19 being hurt??? I think he it is a result of exhaustion… he has played A shit load of Hockey in past years- and goes to all of the dirty places (and abused)-
    perhaps he needs a 10 day vacation…

    the Game was bad- but credit Wild… they checked us like Yotes in Playoffs 2 years ago… relentless!!!

    PK- agree… if your not going to sell out and block shots… u better just attack 100% of time… In the end – You know the old saying your Goalie has to be your best PK’er- AND it’s not happening- I am not blaming CROW- but he is NOT Steve Austin ( 6 Million $$$ man reference- for you kids out there)

  11. Hit the net… get it to the net…. all the same!

    Hard to blame Crow on his PK save percentage. It really makes no sense that it hasn’t stabilized, but Oduya has redirected 2 pucks in in the past 2 games… so there is that. If you aren’t going to clear the front of the net you need to attack the points. They aren’t attacking the points and it’s hard for him to see the shots coming and even if he does, there is someone standing out front to redirect it.

    I think Minnesota played a good (INCREDIBLY BORING) game. The Hawks attempted 85 shots on Tuesday, so I don’t think the loss to the Stars was a lack of effort or anything.

    Can we all agree that this thought of Nordstrom being strong in the defensive zone is just a myth?

  12. Oh, and you were right about Toews effort on the first goal. Abysmal. If 37 or 11 did that, they wouldn’t have been benched for the rest of the game, Q would have personally paid for them to take a cab back to Rockford before the game was over.

    I would REALLY like to see Morin get more time with a play-making linemate. He knows how to find open ice and he has a really nice shot… but that isn’t going to happen. More Brookbank at forward! Q knows best! Two rings!

  13. JS- cab ride… lol –

    As I said- 42’s WEAKNESS is exiting the D ZONE (and he really proved me right last nite!)… his strength is the forecheck and skating… but like a lot of Swede/Fins… doesn’t like to take the body- and I would be scared too- if I weighed 160 lbs.

    Morin- needs to be a sniper on 1st 2 lines (+ he really drives the net hard like 28 w/ better hands)… + better over all line balance IMO!!!
    Traded w/ 37 eventually… and I still think that Nielsen trade could be out there at some point.

  14. Agreed…..I think Morin will make a hell of a wing on a playmaking line. But he is not going to crack the Hawks 1st or 2cd line. With 29/65/23 as a 3d line when all are healthy, 11 is not needed there either. So that puts him with on the 4th line, which I like… 11/16/28 but that does not really play to Morin’s talent. Q believes in 52 more than 11 anyway. I say let 11 play 15 – 20 games in place of 52. Offensive improvement, no worse on defense. Rack up some goals and assists and get something for him at deadline.

  15. Well Kane, aside from sucking at faceoffs, handled himself well at center and played some of the best hockey imaginable with Hossa on his right side. Pretty much carried the team as a 1C when Toews was concussed two years ago. Speaking of Kane, apparently no one wants to trade him now…

    Sharp was a center earlier in his career. Fairly good at it. Usually leads the league or is close to the lead in shortys when he kills penalties. Baffled by that one.

    I think Kooga could center Saad and Kane and that would be an acceptable solution. At least he would win draws and not be stupid. He also goes to the front of the net.

    Once the PK gets sorted out I think they will be OK. Some of the roster and playing time decisions are a bit questionable but it is what it is.

  16. You were definitely right about Nordstrom’s weakness, Wall. But do you know how many offensive zone starts he had last night? If your guess was 0, you are correct! To make things better, he was completely destroyed on possession metrics.

    Toews line, which is pretty much capable of turning the puck around on anyone in the league, started 6% of their shifts in the defensive zone… alright. And while we can say he’s not showing much out there, his Corsi was 73% (19 line shots attempted versus 7 against) which was by far the best on the team. So he’s still driving possession, just not scoring.

    Patrick Kane is having an unreal season and, in my opinion, is becoming the best player on the team and should be considered for the Hart if he continues to do what he is doing.

  17. Our standards are high. The Hawks are near the top of the league in points. They are tremendously fun to watch. And they just had a great road trip. They didn’t fall into that “first game back after the trip” trap, they woke up and played a very solid game, lost but you can’t blame the effort or intensity.

    Last night was tough and there are places where they can be better, but I’m going to keep being grateful for this team. After suffering for decades I’ll take a less than great PK while we sit atop the standings.

    I’ll also take sitting atop the standings the year after winning the cup, avoiding the dreaded hangover. We’ve got it darn good and I’m going to keep enjoying the ride.

  18. The PK problem has gone on longer than I expected with some new faces from last year. It needs help asap. More pressure on puck for starters. Can you imagine where we might be if we were taking StL type penalty minutes a game?

    Where is 23?? He should be getting loads of pk time.. The guy used to pot shg all time his last go round here. I know that’s not the best indicator but hell, he knows what he’s doing out there. Use him!

    We already are leaders in fewest pim game, you can only cut down so much to help your chances

  19. what a weird game and atmosphere. puck was bouncing all night, passes at feet or behind receiver, just had a weird feel the entire game. no flow whatsoever.

    we are far too passive defensively, both on the PK and at even strength.

    can’t blame crow for a bad night, despite a weak save percentage again. no weak goals and several big stops, i’ll take that performance. the skaters in front of him, besides 23/81/16/2/88, looked flat for the majority of the game.

    trying BB at wing was worth a shot to see if it would work. it clearly isn’t. i’d love to know the justification for sending pirri down and skating BB at forward.

  20. There are two things keeping the Hawks from being the best team in the league and the odds-on favorite to win the Cup, and they go hand in hand – the PK and Crawford’s play.

    The PK needs to improve and the constant juggling of personnel isn’t going to magically fix it. The sag back style works well when the goalie stops the initial shot and there are more Hawk players near the crease to clear a rebound. But it doesn’t work well when the opponent gets quality uncontested shots with more players in the way obstructing the goalies view and the goalie not playing a strong positional game. That style needs the goalie to make saves he can’t see because the puck just hits him because he’s in the right spot. The goalie also can’t be deep in the net in those situations either because if opens more net front for deflected shots to find a way in. Crawford plays too deep at times and he isn’t a consistently sound positional goalie. Therefore, another approach should be used on the PK – one where the puck is aggressively challenged. It would open up space around the crease for rebound goals but should minimize the Howitzer shots coming in from the points. Even if that just trades one vulnerability for another – can it really get much worse than it is right now at 72.6%?

    Crawford – 33rd in the league with a .906 save percentage – is simply not playing good enough this season. I had not problem with him getting re-signed at $6M providing he was able to play to the level he played at last season – which was a .926 save percentage. Crawford simply has to be better or we better hope Raanta is a diamond in the rough.

    Still a very good team and the sky is still fixed in the firmament … but I do have those two concerns and my gut tells me that if one of them is fixed – either one – we’ll be OK. But if neither is fixed – the Hawks will not repeat.

  21. To be fair to Crawford… His even strength save % is at .923 which is about where it should be.

    His PK save % is at .784

    Last years PK was pretty stellar. This year it sucks. Hence save % looks much worse than real life.

  22. Last year his PK save percentage was much higher as well. Things go hand in hand. He does need to be better on the PK, but teams are exposing the fact that they don’t clear the crease. You can’t not clear the crease and allow open point shots. Recipe for disaster.

  23. Long season is starting to show. I really hope the Hawks can shore up their PK, the PK is a good indicator of playoff success. Hopefully Raanta can have a good game against a tough Ducks team.

  24. If I were Bowman I would trade Brookbank for a bag of pucks. I don’t think he is that bad, but he is NOT a forward, and something needs to be done to put a leash on Q.

  25. I know the 10-19-81 is a monster line. We probably wont touch the 1st, until we need more secondary scoring… Like Wall & other said, when 11 is in lineup/wo 29, lets have more balance in the 4 lines. When Shawzer back, 17 doesn’t need to play FW.


  26. I am thinking, after this game we do not play any of the top teams for so many games and that’s when we will go to the moar balanced lines…

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