After a hit from Phoenix Coyote Raffi Torres on Marian Hossa, the game went south for the Chicago Blackhawks.
Hossa had the puck and was skating up ice when he turned and was hit by Torres. Torres feet left the ice in his check and knocked Hossa down hard. The play was whistled dead and Hossa was down and not moving.
Trainers and medical staff came to Hossa’s aid but he couldn’t even get up. He was then carried off the ice on a stretcher and was taken to a nearby hospital. He was later released from the hospital with an upper body injury and was able to walk out on his own.
The Blackhawks could have used Hossa not just because he is a star player and knows how to put the puck in the back of the net. But he also knows to pass the puck tape to tape comfortably for the receiver to make a breakout play.
Chicago’s playing last night was sloppy. Nobody on the team seemed to be able to send or receive a pass. This kept the puck in their zone less than the Blackhawks would have liked resulting in less shots and goal opportunities.
Chicago did a lot of dump and chasing last night as well. There weren’t too many times the forwards would try to skate the puck into the Coyotes zone but instead would skate up to center ice, dump the puck in and either chase the puck down or make a line change.
This is especially troublesome for the Blackhawks first line. They are supposed to be the best puck control and causing scoring opportunities. This is playoff hockey. Dumping the puck in the zone is good for line changes but is lazy and talentless as a way of putting the puck in the opponent’s zone.
They need to instead slow down, control the puck and make a clean tape-to-tape pass. This will result in pulling your opponents players, goaltender, or both out of position and can become a good scoring opportunity.
A player who’s not known for fancy play 38-year old forward Andrew Brunette was impressive in front of the net. Screening Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith after a faceoff in the Phoenix zone brought too much traffic for Smith to handle and resulted in a goal.
Coyotes’ defensemen would try forcing Brunette out of Smith’s way but Brunette didn’t budge much if at all. It just added another body in front of Smith making it harder for him to see a soaring shot from the top of the circle from Patrick Kane resulting in a goal.
The goal was later credited to Brunette that he tipped and redirected the shot in.
Making it 1-0 in the first Chicago held the lead until a series of three goals were scored in 65 seconds midway through the third period.
The game was tied 2-2 and the game would head into overtime for the third time in this series.
More lazy hockey and lack of precise passing is what gave Phoenix the win in overtime. Taylor Pyatt of the Coyotes made a pass down the boards and into the corner of the Chicago defensive zone where Blackhawks’ defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson was.
Instead of taking covering the puck and possibly taking a hit in the corner he skated to the puck, turned and poke checked the puck straight into the hands of opponent Mikkel Boedker. Boedker’s weak shot from an odd angle caught Crawford off guard and won the game for Phoenix.
A simple turnover can and did cost the Blackhawks game three of the series and are now down two games to one. They have one more game at home before they are back on the road again.
A questionable return date of key forward and playmaker Marian Hossa will make things tough but if Chicago is going to win they need to slow down their plays and not try to force plays that aren’t there.