Chicago Blackhawks: New Faces Finding Place in Loss
Coming into the NHL Season opener the Chicago Blackhawks knew that they would have a new kind of challenge. With new names and faces in the lineup for the first time it was very evident from the start that we were looking at a new team.
Instead of leaning on his supporting cast, Marty Turco held the reigns the majority of the night. Perhaps the only thing missing from last night and the 41 shots Turco faced was the win. The veteran held the Hawks in the game the best he could turning away numerous breakaways resulting from defensive breakdowns.
Defensive woes were apparent for the majority of the night, which was rarely seen a season ago. More as a result of the pace of the game, it seemed as if there were two-on-one breakouts every other trip down the ice. While making for exciting hockey, it kept many fans on edge and perhaps in a constant cringe.
On the offensive side of the puck the Blackhawks managed 37 shots, while losing the faceoff battle.
It was obvious most of the night that the Blackhawks still have plenty of meshing to accomplish. From defensive responsibility to forward expectation, it is still being learned by the new-comers.
Take a look at the report cards for Game 1!
Pressure Was Consistent, Urgency Lacked at Times
Overall Grade: B
The forwards for the most part seemed to be able to move around at will in the opposing zone. At times finding it frustrating as Craig Anderson stifled many quality chances.
The Blackhawks lost in many important categories last night, most notably shots (37 to 41). Rarely seen last season, the Avalanche are one of a few team that can match the Blackhawks speed for speed.
|Toews, J.||B-||At times was invisible...did pick up an assist on game-tying goal.|
|Kane, P.||C||Finished (-2) and had two shots to match. Needs to step up.|
|Pasani, F.||D||Was brought in for the PK...two for three last night.|
|Sharp, P.||B+||Seven shots and a goal is a start...29 percent in the faceoff circle is not.|
|Skille, J.||C||Minimal time on ice, bad hooking penalty...expecting more.|
|Brouwer, T.||C+||Got an assist, two shots, waiting to see what Brouwer can really do.|
|Stalberg, V.||C-||On ice for goal against, minimal minutes...fans wanting more.|
|Dowell, J.||C+||Was on ice for goal against, but got done what is expected of him.. win faceoffs.|
|Bickell, B.||B-||Nice goal to start the game...where did you go after that?|
|Bolland, D.||C||Sluggish on the draw last night...needs to show more of an offensive threat.|
|Hossa, M.||A-||Great game from Hossa, crashed the boards, nice redirect, and had an assist.|
|Kopecky, T.||B+||Showed signs of finally using the body. Got two assists and finished (+1).|
First Game Is the Measuring Stick
Overall Grade: C-
Maybe a little harsh, but overall the veterans from last season will need to step up. The lack of parity in playing time will tire anyone throughout an entire season. While it was only the first game, the Hawks will have the time to adjust.
Expect new pairings possibly tomorrow night when the Hawks take the ice against the Detroit Red Wings. Fundamentally, the Blackhawks defense must be more sound when playing against the more mature Red Wings.
|Keith, D.||B||Logged 33+ minutes of ice time...needs to keep it in check to keep fresh.|
|Hjalmarsson, N.||D||Finished (-3)...enough said.|
|Hendry, J.||C+||Didn't see much ice, but also wasn't out for a goal against.|
|Seabrook, B.||C||Took the tripping penalty which led to the Avs third goal...needs to be consistent.|
|Scott, J.||C||Also didn't see much time and kept the puck away from the net...can't ask for much else.|
|Leddy, N.||C+||For all the hype, Leddy started very shaky. As the game went on the confidence slowly grew.|
Turco, Fans Confidence Growing After Performance
Overall Goaltending: B+
While Marty Turco envisioned many opportunities this season, the one picture he did not see was that of having to face 41 shots on opening night.
Over the entire 2009-10 NHL campaign the Blackhawks allowed on average less then 25 shots per game. So coming out of the gates allowing as many as they did was a surprise. Expectations obviously are high in regards to the Blackhawks defense, but they are even higher for Marty Turco.
Every goal can't be blamed on the defenseman, but it is hard when not much was being done to minimize the quality of the shot. Instead of making saves to preserve a win, Turco was simply the reason they were in the game from the beginning.
Should Turco display the passion and willingness to do what it takes to make the saves that need to be made, confidence will continue to grow. Not only in himself, but fans surrounding the offseason goalie skepticism.