What is going on with the Chicago Blackhawks?
The defending Stanley Cup champions have lost three of their last four games and that includes being shut out on two of those occasions. On Friday, they fell behind the Ottawa Senators and couldn’t catch up, losing by a final score of 5-3. Forward Andrew Shaw, perhaps venting some of that recent frustration, was ejected for spearing Senators’ forward Zack Smith with less than six minutes remaining in the third period.
Making the playoffs isn’t an issue for the Blackhawks, although they have yet to officially clinch a post-season berth. Sitting at 99 points, and with seven games remaining, it is very, very likely going to happen. Now eight points back of the St. Louis Blues, the Central Division might be too far out of reach.
But still, it will be a team expected to make another run for a Stanley Cup once the playoffs get going. However, these recent struggles could be enough to cast doubt on that notion.
“It’s not one or two guys, it’s throughout our whole lineup. Everybody seems to a part of the bad habits that are running contagiously through our lineup,” said Blackhawks’ captain Jonathan Toews, as per ESPN Chicago.
“We’ll address and get better at it and not let it snowball on us.”
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…