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Blackhawks have plenty of room to improve

10/8/2010
Michael Martin/NHLI/Getty Images

DENVER -- The two expressions heard most often at the Pepsi Center after the Chicago Blackhawks' 4-3 overtime loss to the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday night were: Sloppy and work in progress.

Would it surprise you if Marty Turco had to look down at his jersey a few times to see who he was playing for?

The Hawks gave up 41 shots. They averaged 25 against last year. And lest you think there was some kind of special teams advantage for Colorado, the Hawks had seven more minutes of power play time.

A breakdown of the five-on-five play had the Avalanche with a whopping 34 shots in approximately 48 minutes of play. That's not Blackhawk hockey, at least not circa 2009-10.

But maybe that's what needs to be driven home. Turco was asked if he was surprised to be under siege so much of the night.

"Maybe that is a very important point," he said. "Maybe the expectations for what occurred last year [are] there. It was a great year, but this team hasn't proven anything. It's just one game into the season and giving up four [goals] and a lot of shots, but there is a lot of room for improvement."

Translation: Just because they only gave up 25 shots per game last year doesn't mean anything right now.

But there was some good news.

The Hawks' stars played well, and Tomas Kopecky had a strong effort on the top line. As a team they didn't take many penalties, and they fought back to get a point on the road after getting down 3-1 against a playoff team.

The work in progress relates to team defense. The Hawks puck possession game wasn't nearly as dominant as it can be, hence the Hawks giving up so many shots. The bottom end of the roster needs to perform, but no one thought that was going to happen in one night.

The concern might be on defense. The trickle down effect with the loss of Brian Campbell was glaring on Thursday. Does anyone think Niklas Hjalmarsson is on the ice for all four goals against if Campbell is his partner? Maybe, but doubtful.

Duncan Keith played more minutes last year than any human being on the planet. He's off to the same start this year, reaching 33 in the first game. Brent Seabrook wasn't far behind. The bottom line is how much confidence does Joel Quenneville have in Jordan Hendry and John Scott when they play a combined 12 1/2 minutes in an overtime game while 19-year-old Nick Leddy plays over 19?

Is Nick Boynton the answer there? Maybe. We'll find out Saturday.

For now, the Hawks have enough positives to build on, but that "work in progress" idea might make a lot of sense.

Slappers

  • Patrick Sharp had 7 shots on net to lead the Hawks. Tomas Kopecky had 5.

  • Dave Bolland lost some key faceoffs and was only 7 for 21 in the game.

  • Viktor Stalberg, in his Hawk debut, played only 6:10, lowest among forwards.