Once again the Blackhawks fail to achieve victory in one of the NHL’s outdoor events. This time it was at the hands of the rival Blues, with the final score being 4-1 after a three goal third period for St. Louis. The Hawks now start the second half of the year leading the division by one point over Minnesota. Some thoughts…
-The Hawks got off to a nice start with Kempny’s goal 62 seconds into the game. After that it seemed like they went into large spells of sluggish play. Whether that can be attributed to the ice conditions or the weather, who knows. But they seemed very slow at times, especially in the third period. I did think the Hawks generated some nice chances, especially on the power play, but every time Jake Allen was there to make a stop.
-Once again Vladimir Tarasenko was the difference in a Hawks-Blues affair, scoring twice in the third to seal the deal. Granted, one of those goals banked off Hjalmarsson’s skate, but that moment seemed to open the floodgates.
-Corey Crawford was outstanding for the majority of the game to keep the Hawks in it. The Hawks were badly out shot, 35-23, and Crawford was up to the task for most of that. He carried an over matched Hawks side for two and a half periods before St. Louis broke it open. Not going to win many games consistently needing your goalie to bail you out. Here’s where we start Crawford’s Vezina campaign.
-The guys at CI pointed this out in their recap, but NBC’s coverage of outdoor games always seems so odd to me, and this year was no different. Just a general sense that they’re trying to sell me something I’ve already bought, and in the process cramming the entire event down my throat. We get it, the game is outside, many of us grew up playing hockey outdoors… There is still a game going on that needs to be covered. It’s been widely noted, but the NHL’s outdoor hockey product has been extremely watered down in the nine years since the first Winter Classic. It’s just not that special anymore unless you’re actually there. And don’t even get me started on the overhead wire camera. It absolutely sucks. The game changes direction too fast for it, and you can’t even see the puck. If you wouldn’t use it or think it looks good for a regular indoor game, why on earth would you think it’s fine because the game happens to be outside?
-I love the fake outrage from other fans about the Blackhawks being in yet another outdoor game. God forbid the league uses arguably its most marketable team for their “premier event” of the regular season.
-This might be the biggest game/event in St. Louis Blues franchise history. I rest my case.
-Even while being decimated by injuries, and looking shaky and thin for some stretches, the Hawks still find themselves in first place to begin 2017. It’s definitely been an interesting start to the year, a season where many of us weren’t quite sure what to expect from this group. There is still work to be done, but I think we have to be OK with where this thing is headed, especially when the team is fully healthy. The Blackhawks are now 1-4 in their five outdoor games. Good news is their record indoors between April and June is usually pretty good.