Lackluster Blackhawks fall to San Jose 3-2 in a shootout - FOX 35 News Orlando

Lackluster Blackhawks fall to San Jose 3-2 in a shootout

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

The new year is young but so far the Chicago Blackhawks have been lackluster despite not recording a regulation loss. On Sunday the San Jose Sharks came into town and skated away with a 3-2 shootout victory.

The Hawks came out with a determined effort to begin the night but it was short-lived as they trailed 1-0 after the opening frame. The Sharks controlled the second period but Corey Crawford kept his club close with many quality saves. San Jose couldn't dent the twine in the middle frame despite recording 15 shots on goal and it looked like they would regret not scoring. The Hawks rallied to start the third period and scored twice but the Sharks tied the game and it stayed that way through overtime.

As has been the case this season the Blackhawks didn't score in OT. Then San Jose looked confident in the shootout. The Hawks shot first as Jonathan Toews and Patrick Sharp didn't come close while Logan Couture and Joe Pavelski were smooth and successful.

Joel Quenneville likes to shoot first in a shootout. It wouldn't be my choice especially at home, but shooters have to score.

Toews hasn't been as good this season, Sharp is streaky and Patrick Kane hasn't scored in nine attempts. Quenneville has dropped Kane down in the order to shoot third. At some point Kane should get hot and it might be best to leave him in the second slot. By being third in the order there will be times like Sunday night when Kane won't get a chance to shoot. In any event, extra time hasn't worked in the Hawks favor this season.

Give the Sharks credit, they didn't get into Chicago until late Saturday night. They played a taxing game in Colorado on Saturday afternoon and fought back from a big deficit only to lose 4-3. Basically they controlled the pace of play for much of the night, and were able to fire 42 shots at Crawford.

The Hawks weren't able to dial things up and play their game. The passing wasn't sharp and until the third period their defensemen were not very involved in the offense. There were a few moments when the Blackhawks looked like they could seize control but San Jose prevented that from happening.

Niklas Hjalmarsson and Michal Rozsival were the scorers. Hjalmarsson made a nifty move after receiving a nice pass from Toews. Rozsival let a long shot go and it found its way behind Alex Stalock.

Bryan Bickell continues to struggle at both ends of the ice. Bickell looked to be late on his coverage on the Sharks first score and that appeared to not go over well with Quenneville. Bickell played only nine shifts for a total of 5:20 which was a team low. Bickell did not play at all after the second period.

Bickell may not be 100% and his play has been off. Quenneville probably could live with the lack of offense, but Bickell has made defensive miscues and that won't fly. Quenneville is looking for more as he has mentioned, and Bickell will need to regain his confidence.

When the Blackhawks have had the most success the third line has shined. When a third line can chip in with goals and play in all situations it is a tremendous edge for the head coach. It is safe to say clubs with strong third lines usually keep playing in the postseason.

In general the Hawks look a little off and haven't been able to play a complete game in their last two outings. Maybe some fatigue is starting to set in or maybe the distraction of awaiting the Team Canada selections is having an affect.

The Canadian Olympic Team will be announced on Tuesday morning. Brent Seabrook and Corey Crawford are on the bubble but Duncan Keith and Toews are locks. Sharp has played so well of late it would be a surprise if he wasn't selected.

Probably the best thing for the Blackhawks is to regain focus and keep the game simple. With Bickell struggling Quenneville is mixing line combinations more than usual. So getting some stability with a simple, quality effort would go a long way.

Next up will be New York Rangers on Wednesday night at the UC.

Al's Shot's

Once again it was not a great night for the officials. There were misses that cost both sides.

Unfortunately for the Blackhawks a cross-checking infraction which opened up space for Brent Burns to score the tying goal was missed. Hjalmarsson was knocked down with a cross check in his back and the ref was only a few feet away but didn't blow the whistle.

If anyone is looking for salary cap information, there is only one stop necessary. I have used for a long time and the site has been enhanced over the years. Most important, the site is very accurate and is a must for those who like to play general manager.

I will be back on Thursday and you can follow me on Twitter @AlCimaglia.

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