Blackhawks Buried by Rolling Avalanche
Semyon Varlamov stopped all 25 Chicago Blackhawks shots he faced en route to Colorado Avalanche's dominating 4-0 victory last night.
Simply put, the Blackhawks were out-skated at almost all parts of the ice and Corey Crawford was no where near as sharp as his opponent, Varlamov, was at the United Center last night.
The Blackhawks did have some decent scoring chances in their 25 shots against the Avalanche defense, but last night, Colorado was just the better team and Varlamov was just the better goaltender.
David Jones opened the scoring for Colorado mid-way through the first period when he tipped-in defenseman Erik Johnson's point shot. And after that, it was all Colorado.
TJ Galiardi made it 2-0 in the beginning of the second period for the Avalanche when he put home a rebound from the opposite side of Paul Stastny's short-side wrister.
David Van Der Gulik put the Avalanche up 3-0 about nine minutes into the third period with his rebound tally off of a Gabriel Landeskog wrap-around attempt. Chuck Kobasew finally put the Avalanche up for good 4-0 with his tip-in off of Jay McClement's slap shot with two minutes to play in the third period.
Basically, Colorado skated circles around the Blackhawks throughout most of the game. When Chicago did breakthrough with a few chances in close on Varlamov, he was there to shut the door on Chicago.
Now, with Chicago having suffered three losses in a row, fans, as well as the coaching staff and players themselves, will be looking for some kind of explanation.
Essentially, it's getting to the point now where more than half of the Chicago defensive corps is getting exposed with too many minutes on top of their inexperience. It's a little too much to ask of Niklas Hjalmarsson, who is a fine top-four defenseman, to be the mentor for youngster, Nick Leddy.
Leddy has done a great job in his second season with Chicago, but because he is still just 20 years old, it's a tall order to give him more than 20 minutes a game. Take last night for instance- Leddy played 25 minutes and was a minus 4 on the night. Statistics aren't everything, but it's obvious Leddy was at least on the ice for every one of Colorado's goals. The loss isn't Leddy's fault, but just an example of some of the defensive issues.
The Chicago defense as a whole has not played well in the last three games, but a lot of that can be attributed to not just injuries, but the team's inability to really rely at all in their bottom pair.
And this is why it's imperative that Chicago management takes a really long and hard look at what they can do to acquire a top-four defenseman and fast. It's exciting to think about the possibility of a Bobby Ryan or a Ryan Getzlaf wearing a Blackhawks sweater, but it doesn't really make any sense. Sure the Blackhawks could benefit from a natural second-line center with a few years under his belt, but their true need lies on the blue line.
Of course, that's easier said than done. We all we keep hearing about how GM's are faced with a strict buyer's market. So anything the Hawks will be looking at trading for will be extremely costly. It's definitely possible to put together the right package, but regardless, the Blackhawks would have to say goodbye to a core player.
In short, soon we're going to see what kind of risks Stan Bowman is willing to take to get his team where it needs to be to make a serious run in the playoffs.
The Chicago Blackhawks must now prepare to battle the Detroit Red Wings in their second season matchup when they host their rivals at the United Center tomorrow evening at 4 pm CT.