On a five game winning streak and a three-day rest, the Chicago Blackhawks visited the Dallas Stars Thursday night for a Central Division match up. Unfortunately for the Hawks, they came away empty handed in wins, points and goals. The Blackhawks won the shots battle with pedestrian shots into the body of Stars’ goalie Ben Bishop, but were otherwise dominated by the Dallas Stars who posted an impressive 4-0 victory, jumping the Hawks in the standings by two points.
Coming off a three-day rest, one would think the Chicago Blackhawks would be energized and ready to play. The exact opposite was true. The Blackhawks were continuously beat to the puck, lost a majority of the board battles, were unable to secure the crease and, most importantly, were abysmal at the dot.
Jonathan Toews continues to be solid in the Faceoff circle, and Artem Anisimov has done a 180, becoming a consistent threat at the dot. Last night, Toews continued to be good winning 10 of 16 chances. Anisimov slipped back winning only 6-15. The rest of the team? Not good.
The Dallas Stars won the Faceoff battle 37-23. The losses at the dot that stand out the most for the Hawks were the ones taken in their own defensive zone. Jason Spezza, Tyler Seguin and Alexander Radulov were a combined five for seven in the offensive zone. The Hawks were unable to get the puck out of the zone which lead to two of the Stars scores.
The offensive zone wasn’t any better for the Hawks. Spezza and Seguin combined for nine of eleven with their backs to the net while the Blackhawks won only nine of twenty-five in the offensive zone. The Blackhawks were unable to gain control of the puck at either end posting an awful 14-35 when in the offensive and defensive zones combined.
Three of the four Stars’ goals were a result of losing the faceoff in the defensive zone. Couple that with the inability to win board battles and poor position in front of the net by Gustav Forsling, Brent Seabrook and Connor Murphy and we have a three goal deficit. On a night when the Hawks had no pep in their step, one goal was a challenge- three was insurmountable.
Of note: for the first time this season, veteran Patrick Sharp was a healthy scratch for the Blackhawks. His lack of offensive production prompted Coach Joel Quenneville to bench Sharp and reinsert Richard Panik who sat the previous three games. The move was negligible as Panik was nearly invisible again. I would look for Sharp to return versus the Devils in the place of Panik or Ryan Hartman who took another ill-advised penalty in the Hawks offensive zone. Hartman’s inability to stay out of the penalty box and lack of production could find him scratched frequently in the future.
The Chicago Blackhawks return to action on Saturday night versus the New Jersey Devils.