After a tepid first period, the Chicago Blackhawks and Minnesota Wild traded blows like, well, the two best teams in the Western Conference right now. There were plenty of exciting moments in the last two periods and overtime, but the Blackhawks prevailed 4-3 in the shootout thanks to this mind-blowing shootout goal. (Which came against a should-be All-Star goalie, by the way.)This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!
On the surface, the Chicago Blackhawks have plenty to be pleased about. They’re healthy, they’ve secured 10 points from seven games and currently sit tied atop the Central division heading into tonight’s home date with Anaheim.
But all is not rosy in the Windy City — especially when games are tied after overtime.
The Blackhawks have gone to the shootout twice this year against Boston and Colorado and lost both times. Most distressingly, they’re 0-for-6 on shootout attempts (Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews are 0-for-2, Patrick Sharp and Viktor Stalberg are 0-for-1) which has left the team into looking for answers.
“We’re discussing orders, we’re talking about candidates and shooting first or second. When things don’t work, we look at options,” head coach Joel Quenneville told the Chicago Sun-Times. “We haven’t been anywhere near as effective as we were [last season]. We know we can be better.”
Quenneville even went so far as to hold shootout drills in the middle of Monday’s practice. Under normal circumstances, most teams toy around with them at the end of the session (for example, Pittsburgh’s ‘moustache boy’ competition.)
“It’s frustrating after losing in a shootout because it’s almost like it’s a real loss and you didn’t get anything out of it,” Kane said. “If you win those shootouts, everyone’s excited and upbeat and everyone thinks you played a great game. When you lose in a shootout, it’s like there’s a lot of work that needs to be done.”
That Chicago is frustrated by this — and looking to fix the issue immediately — says a lot about the team. Some would argue the shootout issue will eventually solve itself, given 1) the wealth of Chicago’s offensive talent, 2) the fact Chicago was eighth-best in the shootout last year and 3) in the grand scheme of things, it’s only two shootout losses.
But it’s evident the ‘Hawks want to return to prominence after last season’s letdown, so they’re striving for perfection. It’s kind of like when people are oohing and aahing over a carpenter’s latest project, but all he can focus on is the bent nail in the corner. (I got a D in woodworking, so I’m only assuming this is how he’d feel. My coffee table had three legs.)
As such, none of Chicago’s issues go unaddressed. Even those that might not seem like a big deal.