Faulty clock management costs the Blackhawks in St. Louis - FOX 10 News | fox10phoenix.com

Faulty clock management costs the Blackhawks in St. Louis

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

The Chicago Blackhawks skated into St. Louis and dropped a 3-2 decision in a game that was a pleasure to watch. The contest was a chance for the Blues to make a statement and they did show the Hawks they shouldn't be taken lightly. The Blackhawks should come away with a bit more respect for the Blues. Also, the next time in a similar situation they should assure themselves of coming away with at least one point.

The Blackhawks have lost two of three games played this season and each time the opposing goaltender was the difference maker. On Wednesday night Jaroslav Halak made the biggest saves as the Blackhawks had the edge in quality scoring chances. Corey Crawford stopped 31 of 34 shots but didn't outplay his counterpart.

In a closely contested contest many times the teams that can capitalize on the most mistakes win. Wednesday night the Blues were guilty in the opening period of being too aggressive and became vulnerable to the Hawks counterattack. Halak held down the fort and the Blues made some adjustments and were more careful over the next two periods. Unfortunately for Chicago their mistakes were capitalized on, and they were too aggressive in the closing minute of the third frame.

The Blackhawks play an aggressive confident game and it usually works. This time their clock management was faulty and they pressed for the winning goal in the final seconds. In hindsight being more careful and securing at least one point on the road wouldn't have been a bad idea. Especially versus the club that appears to be their biggest intra-division challenge.

The winning goal happened after four Blackhawks got caught deep in the St. Louis zone and the puck was turned over. The result was a three on one Blues breakout and this time Crawford wasn't able to come up with a big stop.

In an evenly fought game, the Blackhawks scored two power play goals, one each by Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews. Each Chicago score came soon after St. Louis had taken a lead.

The evening started as if the Hawks would answer every challenge the Blues gave them. In the end it was St. Louis that capitalized on Marian Hossa's turnover and the Hawks inability to win faceoffs while shorthanded to score twice.

The faceoff issue has been a problem for a few years. It is most noticeable while shorthanded because Marcus Kruger is a main cog in the penalty killing unit and is a poor faceoff man.

Kruger won only 36 percent of his draws and often his win percentage isn't any better. Michal Handzus is more reliable in the faceoff circle although not great. Kruger does not take every draw while on the ice but unfortunately he can't always be shielded. The Hawks need the more mobile Kruger on the ice while shorthanded and Toews can't take every faceoff. So a chink in the Hawks armor, which isn't something new, is losing defensive zone draws.

The Hawks have hired former NHL faceoff specialist Yanic Perreault as a Development Coach for the forwards. One of his main duties will be to be a part of practices and try to improve the faceoff skills of Kruger, Andrew Shaw and other forwards. Some players can learn to become good faceoff men while others always seem to struggle. For now, Kruger could use a lot of help.

The Blackhawks squandered at least one point if not two versus the Blues and Joel Quenneville can't be pleased. Coach Q. should have his troops ready to battle two foes from the Eastern Conference in back to back home games this weekend.

The Hawks face the up and coming New York Islanders on Friday and then the Buffalo Sabres will be on tap Saturday night at the United Center. The Hawks will want to bounce back and pick up some wins, especially on home ice.

Nikolai Khabibulin should get a start over the weekend and Crawford will look to tighten up his game. A very good Crawford would have made the save on Alexander Steen's game winner with 22 seconds left in the third period.

Follow me on Twitter @AlCimaglia

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