It’s not just that the Chicago Blackhawks have had bad second periods. It’s that they have had them, many times, after dominating the opening 20 minutes. The contrast is striking.
It happened again on Sunday against the Detroit Red Wings.
Leading 2-0, and playing great hockey after one period, the Hawks melted in the middle 20 minutes, giving up five before the horn saved them from further humiliation. They never recovered, eventually losing 5-4.
“If I knew [what was wrong] I would have gotten on that already,” Jonathan Toews said about second-period Hawk struggles. “It’s a momentum swing for the other team. It’s frustrating. We had that disallowed goal on the power play and everything kind of swung their way.”
A Patrick Kane goal was taken off the board because the referee deemed Dustin Byfuglien got in goaltender Jimmy Howard’s way, though no penalty was called. Still, the Hawks were up 2-0 at the time, and it was no reason for the ensuing meltdown.
“There’s a lot of hockey left,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “There’s always calls you can evaluate but momentum swings in the game, that certainly is a highlight. You can’t expect giving up five in a period and think that’s going to be good enough.”
Quenneville still is searching for an answer to the Hawks' second-period woes.
“They had five goals overall [in the second], which is totally unacceptable,” Quenneville said. “We seem to have the majority of the play in the first and third periods, but the second, not just today, but it’s a recent trend that we have to address, and find a solution.”
Cristobal Huet will get some blame for this meltdown, but he shouldn’t take the brunt. It wasn’t Huet who allowed the traffic in front of his net for the first two goals or allowed for the odd-man breaks later; including the Pavel Datsuk break-away with seconds remaining in the period. It turned out to be the game-winner. By then Antti Niemi was in goal, but the damage had been done.
The second-period problems overshadowed Andrew Ladd’s first career hat trick. He had stern words for his team about those dreadful middle 20 minutes.
“It’s disappointing, really,” Ladd said. “It’s been happening way too much lately, and it’s really something we have to figure out in this room or we’re not going to go as far as we want to. It’s up to everybody in this room to play a 60-minute game instead of just bits here and bits there.”
After a season-high tying five goals allowed in the second period, the Hawks have now outscored opponents in that period by only five goals for the season. They are plus-26 in the first and plus-17 in the third.
The contrast is definitely striking.
Byfuglien claims he didn’t touch Howardon Kane’s second-period dis-allowed goal. “We looked at it between periods and [I] didn’t touch him," Byfuglien said. "I knew I didn’t touch him. It could have had something to do with the change in the game but that’s the way it is.”
In a nod to football coach Dennis Green, Toews spoke of a rejuvenated Red Wings team. “They are who we thought they would be,” Toews said. “I think I’ve heard that somewhere.”