Thursday, Nov. 4, 2010
Updated 4:39 PM
By Tracey Myers
As I got ready for another rendition of all things bloggy this morning, I was armed with my routine a.m. cup of joe. Appropriate, really. I can't get off to a good start without it.
Meanwhile, the Blackhawks just can't get off to a good start.
The Blackhawks keep repeating two bad habits in this early going. One is their inability to stop late regulation goals, the other is their lack-of-panache starts.
They were bitten by both on Wednesday night but let's face it, one leads to the other.
The Blackhawks started woefully slow, got down 2-0 and then needed to extol double the energy just to get back into it. Come to the end, they've got to be tired, right? Enter the mistakes again, in the waning minutes, and bye-bye potential points.
Remember folks, hockey games are like marathons. Your performance needs to be strong, and more importantly, consistent over the duration. Try to sprint in the middle miles to make up for early lost time and you'll have nothing in the tank for the finish.
So there's my theory on the bad endings. But that doesn't explain why the Blackhawks have terrible starts. What reason is there to be lax in the first 10, 15, 20 minutes?
"There's really no excuse for that," said Fernando Pisani. "We need to pride ourselves on being a high-energy team that gets things going. That has to be a template for success."
I asked a few Blackhawks prior to Wednesday's game about being wary of the Devils. They were facing the scenario as with Edmonton last Friday: a struggling, frustrated team was coming into the United Center at the end of a road trip. Play our game, that's the answer I got from a few. And that's fine, if they would've played their game in the first period. Instead they gave up the puck, couldn't clear, etc., and it put them in a hole.
"We've got to take pride in getting better starts," said Viktor Stalberg. "It doesn't matter who's out there. Especially on home ice we have to take advantage of our crowd. We've got to get our fans in the game, and have to get a better start to do that."
It doesn't help that the Blackhawks are fighting through injuries. All teams go through them, but on Wednesday the Blackhawks put defensemen on forward lines to compensate for the injured Marian Hossa and Dave Bolland. Jordan Hendry and John Scott have forward pasts, but not much at the NHL level. They played less than eight minutes combined on Wednesday, and did not play past the midway point of the second period.
The Blackhawks sent true forwards Ben Smith and Ryan Potulny back to Rockford on Tuesday. You have to figure the team's salary cap issues factored in the decision.
But I digress. Back to the beginning, or lack thereof in the Blackhawks' case. Trouble is, folks, I have no reason or excuse for it because there isn't any reason or excuse for it.
The Blackhawks need better performances out of the starting gate, simple as that. If they get that they can avoid deficits, they can avoid playing catch-up and they can avoid pointless -- make that point-less -- endings.
Former Blackhawks goaltender Antti Niemi received his Stanley Cup championship ring from Blackhawks vice president Al MacIsaac Thursday morning in St. Louis.
Niemi was also scheduled to get the start Thursday night against the Blues according to the San Jose Mercury News; it was his first start since he suffered a 4-0 loss to the Calgary Flames on Oct. 24.
Tracey Myers is CSNChicago.com's Blackhawks Insider. Follow Tracey on Twitter @TramyersCSN for up-to-the-minute Hawks information.