It’s not that the Chicago Blackhawks are playing poorly, because they’re not. But no team in today’s NHL has set a higher bar than the defending Stanley Cup champions, who you’ll also recall barely lost a game in the 2013 regular season.
Since starting the current season 20-4-4 and looking like they’d be romping to another Presidents’ Trophy, the ‘Hawks are just 19-11-11. Which isn’t exactly terrible, but again, high bar.
“We’ve got to find a way to be better,” said captain Jonathan Toews, per CSN Chicago, after Tuesday’s 3-2 overtime loss in Philadelphia. “If we play better and we sharpen up on little things, we’ve got a lot of skill and we’ve got a lot of ability; it will take care of itself. We’ll find a way to get points.”
Tonight, it’s the NHL-leading St. Louis Blues paying a visit to the United Center (on NBCSN, 8 p.m. ET).
“Obviously, it’ll be a huge game for us and it will be exciting to get to play these guys,” said ‘Hawks coach Joel Quenneville. “I see our team responding and being excited about that game.”
Worth mentioning: the way the standings look, the ‘Hawks and Blues are on a collision course to meet in the second round of the playoffs, assuming both of them make it that far.
Related: St. Louis or Chicago — who ya got?
Well, the NHL’s two new initiatives for ’15-16 seem to be going swimmingly.
Not long after Ottawa successfully made the second-ever coach’s challenge, fans got their first look at 3-on-3 overtime.
And what a look it was.
In the span of 137 seconds, the Tampa Bay Lightning and Philadelphia Flyers combined for eight shots on goal, a few breakaways, some tremendous saves — including one on a penalty shot — and, finally, Jason Garrison‘s game-winning goal on a breakaway from center, giving the Bolts a 3-2 win.
It was, in a word, fun.
Lots of fun.
A quick sampling of reviews:
Of course, not everybody was a fan:
Now, to temper things a bit — this was the first time we’ve seen 3-on-3 with something on the line, so there was a novelty factor at play. There’s also no guaranteeing future OT sessions will be as exciting as this.
But none of that takes away from the fact 3-on-3 made for appointment viewing, and immense entertainment value. The prospect of future games like this? That’s pretty exciting.
Didn’t take long for Alex Burmistrov to make his presence felt — though not in a good way.
Burmistrov, playing in his first game for the Jets after a two-year stint in Russia, delivered a questionable elbow to the head of Boston’s Patrice Bergeron late in the first period of Thursday’s season-opener:
Burmistrov received a two-minute minor for an illegal check to the head, while Bergeron received a matching minor for roughing (retaliating for the elbow, specifically).
The Bruins went into the intermission leading 1-0, and have yet to update Bergeron’s status.
Update: Bergeron stayed in the game, but B’s head coach Claude Julien was none too pleased with the hit. Following the game, he called for the NHL’s Department of Player Safety to look at it…