Is it a sign of “youthful immaturity” that the Chicago Blackhawks failed to put up much of a resistance against the Vancouver Canucks last night? Nope, my guess is that the two teams aren’t separated by much from a talent or will power standpoint and the Canucks rode a great start (2-0 in the first period) and a stellar performance from Roberto Luongo to cut Chicago’s series lead to 3-2.
That doesn’t mean that the loss failed to raise some concern among the Blackhawks. Defenseman Brian Campbell said that the team “didn’t come through” and hypothesized that they might be guilty of looking ahead.
Campbell: You can get a little bit of complacency, but we knew what was at stake and how important it was. That was the biggest thing for us. We just didn’t move our feet. We didn’t move the puck quick enough. We just were a step behind in all areas.
Maybe they get swept away by the deafening fan response to the national anthem and try too hard to score first. Maybe the United Center’s ice — which has been complained about by players from the Blackhawks and visiting teams — isn’t as conducive to the Hawks’ up-tempo pace. Maybe they just get too fancy at home.
Whatever the reason, the stats are telling. After Sunday’s 4-1 home loss to Vancouver in Game 5 of their Western Conference Semifinal series, the Hawks are just 3-3 at the United Center this postseason. Away from the building they are 4-1, with the only loss coming at Nashville in Game 3 of that quarterfinal series — which was clinched on the road.
Then again, the Canucks are the ones who went 0-2 at home, weren’t they? I wouldn’t worry too much just yet if I were the Blackhawks. While the team could stand to generate a little more urgency even when they don’t need to win, they still have the series lead. Tuesday’s game in Vancouver could tell us a lot about the Blackhawks – even if they fail to finish things off.
Raanta rewards Rangers for starts over Lundqvist by blanking Blackhawks
If someone told you that the New York Rangers started a goalie on back-to-back nights, and that goalie wasn’t Henrik Lundqvist, you’d probably wonder if he was hurt or retired.
Nope. It just so happens that Antti Raanta is playing at an incredibly high level, Alain Vigneault noticed, and that decision paid dividends on Friday night. Raanta won both nights of a back-to-back, allowing a single goal (with the Rangers protecting him, being that he only needed to stop 43 of 44 shots during that span).
Raanta and the Rangers blanked the Chicago Blackhawks with a 1-0 overtime win, at least briefly climbing to first place in the massively competitive Metro Division:
1. Rangers – 39 points in 29 games played
2. Penguins- 37 points in 27 GP
3. Blue Jackets – 36 points in 25 GP
4. Capitals – 35 points in 26 GP
5. Flyers – 35 points in 29 GP
Nick Holden ended up scoring the only goal of the game:
Meanwhile, the Blackhawks lost but at least salvaged a standings point and it seems like Patrick Kane is OK after this injury scare:
Raanta improved to 7-1-0 on the season, allowing two goals or less in all but one of his appearances so far this season. That’s the kind of work you’d expect to see if you’re going sit a guy who’s, you know, a living legend.
Blue Jackets remain in thick of things in Metro on tough night for Red Wings
As the Columbus Blue Jackets keep rolling, the Detroit Red Wings are probably just happy to get Friday behind them.
For the second straight game, the Blue Jackets beat their opponent 4-1.
They’re now on a five-game winning streak, and like the climbing St. Louis Blues, things look great if you go back a little further. They’re 10-1-2 in their last 13 games and 13-2-3 since November began.
The New Jersey Devils have been incredibly difficult to beat at home. Lately, the St. Louis Blues have been on a roll just about anywhere.
On Friday night, the Blues were the hotter team, handing the Devils their first home loss in regulation in 2016-17. And it wasn’t particularly close, with St. Louis winning 4-1.
It’s a convenient time to note that the Blues rank among the hottest teams in the NHL. Most recently, they’re 5-1-1 in their last seven games, but they’ve been especially impressive since they flirted with .500 at 7-6-3. Beginning with a 4-1 win against the Buffalo Sabres on Nov. 15, the Blues are on a 8-2-1 tear.
This leaves them second in the Central with a 16-8-4 record.
That’s impressive stuff.
This 4-1 win was quite the showcase for Robby Fabbri and Vladimir Tarasenko, in particular. Tarasenko collected three assists while Fabbri scored two goals on Friday night. His second goal was particularly slick:
The Blues are right in saying that this was a pretty fitting opportunity to drop a “Holy Jumpin.”
Minnesota Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk has been the most difficult goalies to score against this season. Leave it to a high-level player like Leon Draisaitl to make it look this, well, “easy.”
Draisaitl scored his 13th goal of 2016-17 by capping this pretty give-and-go play with Benoit Pouliot. You can see the frustration from Dubnyk at the end of the tally, as if he was saying “How was I supposed to stop that?” (though probably with more colorful language).
Draisaitl came into Friday with five goals and three assists in his last five games, so he’s been almost unstoppable lately.