Hawks rewind: Observations from Game 10

October, 25, 2013
10/25/13
12:30
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
Here are five observations from the Chicago Blackhawks' 6-5 overtime loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday.

1. Michal Rozsival's last two games have been two of his worst with the Blackhawks. He compiled two penalties and a minus-1 rating in each game. He may have been under the weather against the Carolina Hurricanes on Oct. 15 because he missed the next two days of practice with the flu. Either way, his next game was Thursday, and that wasn’t any better. During one seven-second span in the second period, he turned the puck over with a sloppy pass in the neutral zone and then tripped the Lightning’s Richard Panik as Panik skated with the puck toward the Blackhawks’ net. With Michael Kostka out 4-6 weeks and no other defenseman likely on the way from Rockford, the Blackhawks will need more consistency out of Rozsival.

2. Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville shuffled the top two lines slightly again during Thursday's game. He moved Patrick Sharp off the second line and placed him with Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa, and Brandon Saad joined Patrick Kane and Michal Handzus on the second line. The change led to Sharp and Hossa connecting for a goal when Hossa redirected Sharp’s shot into the net. There might be something there with Sharp being a better shooter than Saad, and he might be able to set up Toews and Hossa for scoring opportunities on redirects and rebounds. The second line didn’t do much, though. Handzus has gone the last four games without a point. Kane produced Thursday off a breakaway and a power play.

3. An obvious one, but Nikolai Khabibulin has to be better for the Blackhawks to have a chance to win with him in net. Not all six goals were Khabibulin’s fault, but at least two -- the first and the last -- were softer than anything Corey Crawford had allowed this season. A lot of people were already calling for Antti Raanta's promotion after Thursday’s game, but it’s a little too soon for that. Raanta will benefit from some more time in Rockford -- he’s played just five games so far -- and Khabibulin deserves more of a chance. With the Blackhawks having two sets of back-of-back games coming up, Khabibulin will likely get a few opportunities to bounce back and prove whether he’s suitable for the backup role.

4. Andrew Shaw is often noticed for doing the little things, but he did some big things on Thursday. His faceoff win in the offensive zone led to Bryan Bickell's goal in the second period. Shaw was 4-of-7 on faceoffs on the night. Later, he tipped in Kane’s shot for a goal, Shaw’s first of the season. And as usual, he won a few puck battles and was defensively dependable.

5. The plan wasn’t for Bickell to be making $4 million a season playing on the third line, but if it works, it works. Bickell has benefited the most from the Blackhawks’ recent line changes. After going from the first to the third line, Bickell has scored goals in three consecutive games. He didn’t score goals in three consecutive games last regular season and has only achieved that feat once in the regular season in his career. He did score in three consecutive games in the Western Conference finals last season, and it was that production which led to his new contract.
Scott Powers is a general reporter for ESPNChicago.com. He is an award-winning journalist and has been reporting on preps, colleges and pros for publications throughout the Midwest since 1997.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Patrick Kane
PTS GOALS AST +/-
16 7 9 -2
OTHER LEADERS
GoalsP. Kane 7
AssistsP. Kane 9
+/-K. Versteeg 6
GAAC. Crawford 1.97