Chicago Blackhawks no longer perfect - FOX 35 News Orlando

Chicago Blackhawks no longer perfect

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

The Blackhawks came close to staying undefeated but give the Minnesota Wild credit.

It wasn't as if the Wild dominated the contest but the Hawks could not find a way to score in the final forty minutes of regulation. Once a game goes into overtime and then a shootout, anything can happen. Actually this match gave everyone their money's worth as it wasn't decided until after Patrick Sharp hit the crossbar in his shootout attempt. The Blackhawks are no longer perfect on the season as they dropped a 3-2 decision in Minnesota.

The Wild had a tough first period as the Hawks were the better team. Credit has to be given to Minnesota head coach Mike Yeo who didn't wait long to replace starting goal tender Josh Harding. Niklas Backstrom, usually Minnesota's number one goalie, came on and was perfect on the night. Including OT, Backstrom played 58:15 and stopped all 28 shots he faced.

It appeared the Blackhawks would have an edge as the Wild played the night before and were starting their back-up goal tender. Harding did allow two scores and did let in one soft goal but that was all the Chicago scoring. The Wild seemed to be a bit winded in the late going but they hung tough. In this case the winning team should be credited more than the loser blamed.

The Wild did a nice job in the second period of making life difficult for Chicago defensemen. They kept the pressure on while also keeping the Hawk forwards out on the perimeter. Corey Crawford played well enough to win on most night but when the offense can only manage two scores victories won't come so easily.

Andrew Shaw had his best game of the season and picked up his first goal. His linemates, Bryan Bickel and Viktor Stalberg played well as they were crashing the net early. Unfortunately they couldn't sustain the same effort in the late going.

Michael Frolik is having a fine season and has been very good as a penalty keeper. Frolik has been skating hard and is noticeable. Last night he was credited with a game high six shots on goal.

On the other end of the spectrum was Dave Bolland who was basically invisible. Bolland was held without a shot, finished a -1 on the game and trouble could follow if he doesn't bounce back quickly. As a second line center, playing with some of the more talented offensive players the Hawks can't afford Bolland to go into a prolonged slump. Last season there were times when Bolland disappeared over a few games. If the same happens now, his linemates Sharp and Patrick Kane could also suffer.

The Hawks will take a point out of Minnesota and head into Western Canada. They will play on Friday in Vancouver and on Saturday in Calgary. The Canucks haven't gotten off to a great start and the Flames sit in last place in the Northwest division.

So far the Hawks have captured 13 of a possible 14 points in this young season. If they can hold their own over the next five road games they will then head back to town for a long seven game homestand.

Al's Shots

Crawford's first period save on Pierre-Marc Bouchard was one of his best ever.

Jonathan Toews played more than any Chicago forward recording 21:45 of ice time. As usual Toews was strong in the faceoff circle winning 57% of his draws.

Kane was the best player on his line logging 20:01 of playing time and was credited with one assist.

Marcus Kruger was an effective penalty killer once again and had a nice night at the dot winning 57%.

Bolland lost 14 of 20 faceoffs for a weak 30%.

I would think Crawford would get the nod on Friday in Vancouver. Most likely Ray Emery will take the net Saturday in Calgary.

Supposed Canuck back-up Roberto Luongo has played better than Cory Schneider. Things have to be in a state of flux in Vancouver as Bobby Lu started back-to back games on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Blackhawk penalty killers have been super allowing only one power play goal in seven games.

Stop back on Saturday morning as I will share some thoughts about the battle versus the Canucks and also look ahead to the Flames.

Follow me on Twitter @AlCimaglia.

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