There is not much to like about about the play of the Chicago Blackhawks right now.
For 56 minutes on Tuesday night they looked completely incapable of generating any sort of a push against the San Jose Sharks, only managing to score a couple of garbage time goals late in the third period to make the final score of their 4-2 loss look a little more respectable than it otherwise should have been.
Make no mistake, this was a brutal performance by everyone not named Robin Lehner.
After two periods the Blackhawks found themselves facing a 2-0 deficit and were being outshot by an embarrassing 26-8 margin, getting completely dominated by a Sharks team that entered the game with the worst record in the Western Conference. It was not even close. The Blackhawks looked two steps slow to every loose puck, couldn’t retrieve dump-ins to the offensive zone, couldn’t get out of the defensive zone where they looked like they were on a penalty kill the entire time, and just looked bad.
It was a continuation of a recent trend where they have spent entire games defending in their own zone, bleeding shots against and being unable to mount any sort of sustained attack in the offensive zone.
It happened against Nashville (outshot 51-20) in a 3-0 loss, it happened against Los Angeles (outshot 49-27) in an overtime loss, and it happened again on Tuesday.
Even with their attempts to fix the defense over the summer all of the same problems still exist and there does not seem to be any kind of a solution in the immediate future.
As for the Sharks, this was a desperately needed win.
They came into the night at the bottom of the Western Conference standings and had lost five in a row and seven of their past eight. It’s not too early to start hitting the panic button when you’re already that far out of a playoff spot, and the time has come for them to start collecting points.
They may not have closed out the game the way they wanted to in the closing minutes, but this was the type of performance the Sharks were expecting from this group. They were in complete control of the game and for the first time started to look like the Stanley Cup contender they are supposed to be.