Bullied: Lightning 4, Blackhawks 1 - March 20, 2021

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Bullied: Lightning 4, Blackhawks 1 – March 20, 2021

Chicago Blackhawks

If you also wasted a beautiful Saturday afternoon watching this game, I’m there with you.

The Chicago Blackhawks got bullied by the Tampa Bay Lightning, losing 4-1 to end their six-game road trip with a 1-5-0 record and have now lost six of their last seven games. They’re also now 2-6-1 in the month of March and 1-5-1 against the Lightning this season. Chicago falls to 14-13-5 on the year with 33 points in the standings. The Columbus Blue Jackets are two points behind the Blackhawks in the standings and are playing the Carolina Hurricanes later this evening.

The Lightning opened the scoring in the first period, then blew the game open in the second period with three goals in the middle frame. Chicago squandered a 5-on-3 power play in the second period when down 2-0 and that basically set the tone for the rest of the afternoon. Alex DeBrincat was able to stop the bleeding for the Blackhawks in the third period, scoring his team-leading 16th goal of the season to make the game 4-1 for Tampa Bay at the time.

https://twitter.com/NBCSBlackhawks/status/1373395819609653252?s=20

Chicago was dominated by Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy, but what else is new? Vasilevskiy made 30 saves on 31 shots faced and with the win, is now on an 11-game winning streak and is 20-3-1 on the season. On the opposite end of the ice, Malcolm Subban made 25 saves on 29 shots faced in the loss. Subban moves to 4-4-1 on the season and has allowed 13 goals over his last three starts.

My biggest problem with the Blackhawks after this afternoon’s game, and something that has been an underlying issue with this team all season is the physical push-back. Yanni Gourde, all 5-foot-9, 175 pounds of him, took some liberties with DeBrincat and Patrick Kane in this game that went unaccounted for by the Blackhawks. In fact, Gourde was able to get DeBrincat to retaliate to a number of cross-checks that led to the 4-on-4 play in the second period that led to the 2-0 Lightning goal. Along with Gourde’s shenanigans, Adam Boqvist took an elbow up high away from the play from Alex Killorn that also went unaccounted for.

I said it on Twitter and I’ll say it again here, I’m not an advocate for gooning or scheduled fights, but the Blackhawks don’t have any push back. They get pushed around too easily and they don’t have the star-power to outscore every team in the league whenever they decide to, like Blackhawks teams of the past. You can’t let opponents do whatever they want to players like DeBrincat and Kane without having to eventually answer for it. It doesn’t help your cause when you come out in the media and basically say, “we don’t want to fight,” like Jeremy Colliton did this week with the Connor Murphy situation.

If you are trying to be a playoff team, you aren’t going to make any noise or be a threat to anyone without some degree of a physical push back. Chicago doesn’t have it, and if I’m any team up next on the schedule, my plan would be to drag the Blackhawks into the mud and do whatever you want that the refs won’t call.

The Blackhawks will get to go home for their next six games, which is good news and an opportunity to reset back at the United Center. The bad news is that four of the next six games are against the Florida Panthers and Carolina Hurricanes, with the other two against the Nashville Predators, who they have not faced since January 26-27.

Final Thoughts

•   Andrei Vasilevskiy is 10-0-0 with just 19 goals allowed in his career against the Blackhawks. He extends his winning streak to 11-games, which is a career-high for him and a Tampa Bay franchise record. If you ask me, he’s the Vezina Trophy front-runner and a legitimate Hart Trophy candidate.

•   Patrick Kane was kept off the scoresheet for the second game in-a-row, which is only the second time he has gone two games without scoring this season. He was previously held off the scoresheet in January against the Nashville Predators.

•   Other than the physical aspect of the game and the fact that Vasilevskiy owned the Blackhawks again, this was a game that the Blackhawks had their chances to score and shift the tides. They out-chanced and out-shot the Lightning and had all the metrics in their favor, besides the metric of the puck going in the net, which is the most important one.


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Author: Mario Tirabassi

Mario Tirabassi is a writer for Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @Mario_Tirabassi.