Thursday, April 5, 2018

Blackhawks Deliver Heartbreaker in Final Seconds

Chicago Blackhawks vs St. Louis Blues - Game 80 Recap
Goals: Bortuzzo (4), Schenn (27) and Tarasenko (33)
Record 43-31-6 
My thoughts on this game

  • I went to this game. I was sick to my stomach when I left. What a disappointing loss! I almost didn't write a recap, I was so upset. But, being the analytical that I am, after writing 79 game recaps I couldn't let a game go "uncovered" here on my blog. It would be the equivalent of leaving a button unbuttoned in the middle of your shirt, or painting a house and leaving a small section untouched. You get the idea.
  • So, what I decided to do was to watch the recorded version of the game on my trusty DVR and break down some things by watching in slow motion some of the goals and what led to them, and offer some opinions on what I saw.
  • As good as technology is, it's unbelievable how the breaks have gone for the Blues on replays and challenges this season. It seems that the camera is never at the right angle or something is in the way, blah blah blah. This time it was Jaden Schwartz who looked to have scored a goal early in the first period. They buzzed the horn about 2 minutes later so Toronto evidently saw something. But when it came down to the refs looking at it, there wasn't enough clear evidence to overturn the 'no-goal' call.
  • Oh well! It may have ignited a bit of a fire because just a couple of minutes later Robert Bortuzzo added to his career-high scoring year by netting his 4th goal of the season. His shot was aided by the screen from Alexander Steen in front who has been consistently working that dirty area lately. It's something we've all said had been missing most of the season, but it seems to me like he decided he was going to fill that void about the same time his good friend, Paul Stastny was traded at the trade deadline. The goal was created by some good forechecking.
  • On Chicago's first goal that tied the game 4 1/2 minutes later, I discovered by watching and rewinding and playing back in slow motion that the Blues had the puck not once, but twice in their defensive zone and turned it over, allowing Chicago the opportunity that they shouldn't have had. To turn it over and then get it back only to turn it over again was just poor play on the part of the Blues.
  • The Blues had a power play, I don't remember now if it was the one late in the first or the one in the 2nd period, but I made some notes on it. They made 6 passes, finally took a shot and missed the net. Then they got it back and made 8 passes and got a shot on goal. Towards the end, Colton Parayko got off a shot and there was a rebound out front. Ivan Barbashev and Vladi Sobotka were both there but neither could get a stick on it.
  • I was sitting there thinking, based on how poor the power play has been this season and all the times I've watched us pass it around and then not get a shot on goal, that it was another poor power play executed by the Blues. But the NBC announcers said "perfect example of how a power play should work. Why are they 30th in the league?" I guess they see things differently than I do. 
  • Personally, I think our power play looked the best all season when Vladi was hurt and missed a couple of games. Just saying.
  • After the Blues went up 3-1 on goals by Schenn and Tarasenko early in the 2nd period, Chicago got a short-handed goal by Blake Hillman. It was his first NHL goal. I'm like, "How did that happen?!"
  • Watching the replay, the Hawks entered the offensive zone with 2 on 2 and a trailer. The guy with the puck spun and waited for the trailer, Hillman. Vladi Sobotka was in front of Hillman and gave him some space, enough space that he wound up and slapped it past Jake Allen to cut the lead to 2-1. I don't' know why Sobotka gave him so much space. Maybe he didn't expect him to shoot it. I thought it was a poor decision.
  • The tying goal was unassisted, but it was caused by another bad decision by the Blues, this time in their offensive zone when Tage Thompson turned the puck over out near the blue line. Rookie Alex DeBrincat skated up ice with the puck and maneuvered into some open space and fired a slap shot from the top of the circle that went under Jake's arm on the stick side. Jake was visibly upset that he allowed it to go in. Poor puck possession on our part. It just seemed to be a theme of the evening for us.
  • The game-winner came on a power-play goal with just 8.5 seconds left in the game. A penalty was called on defenseman Chris Butler for holding when Chicago got the puck on a breakaway and was behind the defense. I don't know how the defenseman's shifts had played out leading up to it, but I wondered why our veteran defensemen weren't on the ice with just 2 minutes remaining. When it seemed like we were about to at least make it to overtime and secure at least 1 point, veteran Blackhawk defenseman Duncan Keith got a cross-ice pass and one-timed it into the net. You could feel the air leave the building. 
  • Looking back at the play in slo-mo, the cross-ice pass was open because our guy on the weak side was sucked down towards the goal by another Blackhawk down near the goal line. That opened up the lane and gave Keith the space he needed to get the shot off. 
  • If I'm not mistaken, three of their goals were scored at or near the top of the circles. To me, that's just too many goals from that far out. Blame some of them on Jake if you want. Rightly so. But this was just an overall poor performance by the entire Blues team to allow this team, without Jonathan Toews to come back from a 3-1 deficit and beat you in regulation in your own building with this much on the line. 
  • OK. I've stated my opinion. Now, let's put it behind us and move forward. Unbelievably enough, we still control our own destiny and can make the playoffs. 
#AllTogetherNowStL #LGB

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