The Blackhawks’ brief West Coast trip (and annual Fathers Trip) is over. The Hawks lost 2-1 in overtime to the L.A. Kings on Thursday. Saturday in Anaheim, they overcame their worst period of the season (by a mile) to beat the Ducks 3-2 in Anaheim. Yes…somehow this team, who played two of their worst games of the season in back-to-back games, took three of four available points.
Anaheim opened the scoring just 19 seconds into the game, as Troy Terry picked up his sixth goal of the season. Terry won a board battle against multiple Hawks, which resulted in Trevor Zegras with time behind Arvid Söderblom’s net. Terry worked his way to the slot, Zegras hit him with the pass, and Terry scored. From there, the Ducks continued what could have been an onslaught. For a team that surrenders forty shots on goal against per game, the Ducks looked like they were on the powerplay most of the period. At one point, shots were 14-1 in favor Anaheim.
With their 15th shot, the Ducks made it 2-0. Zegras interfered with Connor Murphy, who was looking to leave the ice. The refs missed it, the Ducks got a two-on-one break, and Adam Henrique ripped a shot over the shoulder of Söderblom.
The Blackhawks cut the Anaheim lead to one after Jarred Tinordi’s backhand goal, set up beautifully by Max Domi.
Late in the first, Pavol Regenda took a hooking penalty for the Ducks, and the Hawks began the second period with 1:50 of powerplay time. They failed to score with the man-advantage, but at the 4:04 mark, defenseman Filip Roos scored his first NHL goal, picking up his own rebound. Somehow, the Hawks had tied it despite their worst 20 minutes of the season.
Late in the second, Boris Katchouk’s stick got wrapped around the neck of Terry, who fell hard and didn’t return for the second period. It was an accidental penalty, but Katchouk was given a four-minute penalty. The Blackhawks killed it off, and the period ended tied at two.
The third period was uneventful, until Arvid Söderblom had to make a post-to-post save on a Ducks two-on-one. Moments after, Ryan Strome and Jonathan Toews mixed it up after the play. Toews’ helmet came off and was barking at Strome. Taylor Raddysh and Regenda also went to the box after the scrum. No powerplays were awarded, but less than a minute later, the Blackhawks took a 3-2 lead as Tinordi scored his second goal of the night (and fourth of his career). Tinordi’s point-shot ricocheted off the foot of Dmitry Kulikov into the back of the Ducks net.
A first period to forget
When a team is actively tanking, it’s easy to dismiss a poor performance as part of the plan, but the first period the Blackhawks put together was absolutely embarrassing. Entering the game, the Ducks had exactly zero regulation wins this season. They’re flat out bad, and rebuild or not, the effort was inexcusable.
Take a look at the first period totals:
Shot attempts: 29-9 ANA
Shots on goal: 19-5 ANA
5-on-5 scoring chances: 16-5 ANA
5-on-5 high-danger chances: 6-2 ANA
That can…not…happen. Especially against a team like Anaheim.
So, how did it happen?
The Ducks have one clear advantage over the Blackhawks. Speed.
The Blackhawks were chasing the Ducks all over the ice during the first, which looked more like a 20-minute powerplay than an even-strength period.
During an intermission interview with the TV broadcast, Tinordi referenced the Blackhawks not moving their feet enough. This has been a common refrain after games in which Chicago looked out of sorts.
So…uh…move your feet? I’m not sure how Luke Richardson can coach “foot moving,” as it’s sort of essential to the whole skating thing.
Söderblom is the Blackhawks best goalie
As the election night pundits say, “I’ve seen enough.” With all due respect to Petr Mrazek and Alex Stalock, I’m ready to call Arvid Söderblom (pronounced SO-der-bloom, for the record) the Blackhawks’ best goalie. Despite giving up a goal 19 seconds into the game, Söderblom continues to show poise, confidence, and most importantly, dependability in net. After doing his best to withstand the Ducks’ first period onslaught, he continued to come up huge throughout the game. He stopped Terry on a clean breakaway with a beautiful blocker save, and kept the team in another game they had no business being in, let alone winning.
During the third period, Troy Murray was discussing Söderblom’s ability to respond to coaching and learn quickly. Murray specifically mentioned how last season, Söderblom had a tendency to keep his glove hand too low, and has worked to improve his glove hand technique. Later, Murray used a video montage to illustrate Söderblom’s solid understanding of angles. I’ve said it many times, but he reminds me a lot of Corey Crawford. Maybe it’s the black pads. Maybe it’s the in-net posture, but he’s always in position to make the save, which is why you rarely see him making a desperation save. However, he did have to make a post-to-post save late in the third. The Ducks had a two-on-one opportunity, and Söderblom slid post-to-post to make the stop.
I still prefer that he returns to Rockford when Stalock returns from injury. The IceHogs’ success has been prioritized this season, and I believe it will pay dividends for the Blackhawks and their prospects. However, if the Blackhawks needed to win one game to land Connor Bedard, I would start Söderblom without hesitation. I wonder if Richardson would do the same.
Hossa Night heads up!
Look for the Blackhawks to announce more information as the week goes on, but apparently, they’re going to have a unique schedule for next Sunday’s Marian Hossa number retirement ceremony.
The doors will open at 3:30 p.m., while the retirement ceremony will begin at 4:30. Puck drop is at 6:00 p.m., but if you want to see the Hossa ceremony, make sure you’re there by 4:30. I’m not sure why they wouldn’t just have the ceremony pregame as usual. The Blackhawks must have something special planned. Stay tuned!