There are going to be games like this, and the Colorado Avalanche offered a sobering lesson of how much further the Chicago Blackhawks have to climb.
A tight contest early opened up significantly for the Avalanche as they cruised to a 4-0 victory over the Blackhawks Thursday. The loss mercifully ends a five-game road trip, but certainly showed the talent gap between a Cup contender in Colorado and the rebuilding Blackhawks.
The Blackhawks power play got a chance to build on their success from Monday night, but it was the Avalanche who struck first, burying a short handed chance to take a 1-0 lead. The Avs would add another, this time on their power play, when Ryan Johansen stuffed a third chance past Petr Mrazek to take a 2-0 lead.
The Blackhawks went over 10 minutes without registering a shot on goal between the first and second periods and had only two scoring chances with just over ten minutes left to play in the second period. Compare that to the Avs 14, and well, it told the story for the night.
The Blackhawks are rebuilding with speed and skill and the Avalanche put on display why it’s so important. The end of night numbers were gaudy in Colorado’s favor but it was unfair to Mrazek, who was great again for Chicago.
Mrazek Great Again but Blackhawks Struggled to Score
The deficit could very well have been more, but Mrazek kept the Blackhawks in the game with one big save after another. But as the deficit went from 1-0, to then two and three–the Blackhawks appeared frozen in place as the Avalanche dipped and danced all over the ice. Whether it was the chasm between shots on goal or scoring chances, the Blackhawks simply didn’t have an answer for what Colorado threw at them.
It was a lot, too.
Mrazek, for his part, stood up to shots that ricocheted off his mask, and peppered him from every possible angle. Some he had a chance on–some not even close.
But once again, the Blackhawks goaltending came to the rescue when there wasn’t much else that could break through.
Homebound after Five-Game Road Trip
The Blackhawks now head back to the United Center for the first time since wrapping up their preseason. The festivities for the home opener begin early on in the afternoon Saturday before Chicago takes on the defending champion Vegas Golden Knights at 7pm.
Two more sleeps 🥳 pic.twitter.com/hxYOM302tn
— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) October 19, 2023
As of this writing, they are still undefeated so they may have their hands full again. But Hawk fans will get to finally welcome Connor Bedard to Chicago in the regular season.