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Monday, April 22

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Blackhawks Thu Feb 05 2015

Scoring Woes for Blackhawks a Mere Blip on the Radar

Chicago Blackhawks Ease off the ledge, Blackhawks fans. Things might look a little shaky as February begins, but just because Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow to allow for another six weeks of Old Man Winter, doesn't mean your favorite team will continue its recent play into the extension called on by everyone's favorite rodent.

Yes, things currently may not seem fine, considering the team has scored as many goals in the last two games as the entire writing staff at Gapers Block -- zero. And, yes, they've been shutout two games in a row for the first time since 2006. But just as the blades upon which they skate can use a little sharpening from time to time, so too will be their ability to sharpen their skills and glide right back to winning more consistently.

Anyone who watched the game against Anaheim last Friday evening witnessed at 4-1 win against the best team in the Western Conference at the time (Nashville is currently tied with the Ducks with 72 points), and went to sleep with warm thoughts and visions of leaving this current road series to the west in the rearview mirror. That was until the Hawks saw Antti Niemi stand on his head, stopping 31 shots (it felt more like 50) for a 2-0 loss in San Jose.

The Blackhawks tipped their hat to their former netminder and made their way to Minnesota to face a Wild team with Devan Dubnyk in goal, who had helped his team win its previous three games by a combined score of seven to three. If the previous two games for the Hawks looked as good as any on this swing, this was the one that instilled fear and begat thoughts of early tee times for Jonathan Toews and potential Hart Trophy winner Patrick Kane two months from now.

They certainly played poorly against Mike Yeo's squad, seemingly working off the backs of their skates, producing slow-to-the-puck advances and squandering 43 shots (it felt more like 70) against Corey Crawford, who tended amiably between the pipes despite his offense producing only 24 shots, losing by the final of 3-0.

Andrew Shaw committed a careless Interference penalty on Kyle Brodziak, which negated a power play for the Hawks in the second period; the team lost the face-off battle 55 percent to 45 percent; while turnovers killed any chances of a scoring threat that, in the end, gave Crawford a workout comparable to any P90X DVD.

Ultimately, it was one really bad game and a few that could have gone either way, including the 4-3 loss to Los Angeles that kicked off the "Frozen" road trip.

The Blackhawks are still in the top-5 in Fenwick-for in the entire league at 53.5 percent, which means possession numbers are still very good. Overall shots per game on goal lead the league at 34.9 per, a full one-shot plus ahead of the Islanders.

Maybe the thought of back-to-back shutouts harkened back to a time when Tony Salmelainen, Adrian Aucoin and Michal Handzus (the first go-around) recalled horrific memories of a season two-years' removed from the last full-season lockout. In any event, the recent freeze on offense won't last, even if the team remains in stasis in Winnipeg and St. Louis to round out the trip.

The trade deadline is a little less than one month out (March 2), and it is possible Stan Bowman makes a move to shed some cap. If he moves some high-priced offense to dump the inevitable (Patrick Sharp -- $5.9 million per, Bryan Bickell -- $4 million per), it'll be for the betterment of the team's long-haul objective, as well as a potential small plug in the boat, as opposed to hitting the panic button for the sake of correcting any scoring woes for any equal salary in return.

April is still a long way out, Hawks fans. There's still plenty of time for the team to practice lowering and increasing your blood pressure before the playoffs begin.

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