Blackhawks blanked by Avs in record game; final Road to Winter Classic airs

Last night, the Blackhawks got in the NHL records books for a reason they shouldn't be particularly proud about: while their 54 SOG were outstanding, Colorado's Semyon Varlamov stood on his head and kept them all out of his net. The shutout gave him the distinction of the "NHL record for most saves in a regular-season shutout on the road", according to Sportsnet Stats (@SNstats).

Chicago got behind the eight-ball early, giving up two goals to the Avalanche less than 90 seconds into the game. The first was by Nathan MacKinnon at 0:53 into the game, and then Max Talbot scored again just 24 seconds later with the same Blackhawks players on the ice.

The Blackhawks' power play withered again, going 0-for-4 on the night.

Every player on the Blackhawks had at least one SOG on the score sheet. Patrick Kane led the team with seven; Duncan Keith, Patrick Sharp, and Jonathan Toews all had five. Keith marked the most attempted shots with five SOG, five attempts blocked, and one missed shot. By comparison, they only allowed Colorado 24 SOG - but had they only allowed half a dozen, it wouldn't have mattered, as the Avs did all the scoring they needed to early.

Although Brandon Saad apparently scored late in the third, the play was already blown dead before the puck crossed the line.

It was an embarassing loss for a team that just saw five players voted into the All-Star Game.

There's something about playing the Blackhawks that seems to get Varlamov on top of his game; last season, he also had a 54-save game against Chicago. After earning a Vezina nod last season, his play has regressed this year. His 2.79 GAA (after last night's game) is  31st among goalies who have played in at least 15 games this season. His save percentage improved to .918, which ties him for 10th with Cory Schneider and Devan Dubnyk.

It was the sixth time in as many games that the Blackhawks gave up the first goal of the game. After the game, Blackhawks players admitted they needed to make better starts. Patrick Sharp called it "frustrating", and team captain Jonathan Toews said the loss was "ugly".

The Blackhawks will face the Wild at Minnesota on Thursday night.

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Of the six spots available for the NHL All-Star Game, five were won by Blackhawks, receiving more than a million votes apiece: Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews for forwards, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook for defensemen, and Corey Crawford for goalie. The last remaining forward spot went to Zemgus Girgensons of the Buffalo Sabres, who took the top spot with 1,574,896 votes.

The remaining All-Stars will be determined by the NHL, and are to be announced on Saturday, January 10th.

Columbus will be hosting this year's All-Star Game. The league's showcase event will feature the Honda NHL All-Star Skills Competition on Saturday, January 24th at 7pm ET, and the NHL All-Star Game on Sunday, January 25th at 5pm ET. Both events can be viewed in the US on NBCSN and in Canada on CBC and TVA Sports.

Players will be drafted into two teams on Friday night as part of the NHL Fan Fair, which will be happening January 23-25 at the Greater Columbus Convention Center. Full details of the team draft have not yet been released.

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On Tuesday night, the fourth and final episode of this season's "Road the Winter Classic" aired on EPIX.

It had very good game coverage of the Winter Classic, including some behind-the-scenes chirping between the two teams. And yes, we got a good look at the final, controversial penalty, and Jonathan Toews' spitfire reaction as he headed to the sin bin.

There were no fireworks between these two teams, but the series provided a glimpse behind the curtain of two very different teams: the Blackhawks, who are regarded as one of the best teams in the NHL, and work to live up to that standard; and the Capitals, who hope to earn what Chicago has been enjoying.

The episodes will be available on demand on EpixHD.com, and swearing-censored versions are available through NHL.com, capitals.nhl.com, and blackhawks.nhl.com.
 

 

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