Tough Tuesday for the Blackhawks ends with a 3-2 OT loss - FOX 32 News Chicago

Tough Tuesday for the Blackhawks ends with a 3-2 OT loss to Phoenix

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

It would be fair to say Tuesday was a very bad day for the Chicago Blackhawks.

In reverse order, the Hawks were beaten by the Phoenix Coyotes on home ice in overtime by a 3-2 score.

Near the 12-minute mark of the opening period, Marian Hossa was hit high, late and to the head by Coyote forward Raffi Torres. Hossa appeared to lose consciousness and had to be wheeled off the ice.

Lastly, the decision on Andrew Shaw came down as a three game suspension. As shocking as the severity of the suspension to Shaw was, Torres not getting whistled for a penalty was even more outrageous. Torres has a reputation for being a dirty player and he did leave the ice to deliver the blow to Hossa's head.

As far as the game goes, it would be easier to swallow the loss if it could be blamed on the officials. Make no mistake, Tuesday night the two referees were awful. Joel Quenneville put it best in a post game interview by commenting the referring was "a disgrace." Although Quenneville was honest, most likely he will be fined by the league.

Unfortunately the NHL is being shown for what it normally is, but now the stage is bigger. NHL officiating is the worst of any professional sport. The talent pool of worthy referees does not warrant a two-man system but the NHL doesn't like to take a step back. Instead the league stumbles along.

Many of the disciplinary inconsistencies of top cop Brendan Shanahan could be lessened if the original on-ice calls were correct. My suggestion would be to go back to a one man system and send 50 percent of the current referees to the AHL or to find a different career.

Currently there aren't enough referees to allow for a two-man system in every AHL game. My feeling is the AHL officiating could use an upgrade and the same can be said for the ECHL. Wherever many of the refs may end up, it would be best if they were not in the NHL any longer.

In Game 3, the Blackhawks were outplayed for most of the contest. The same could be said for the majority of Games 1 and 2, which is not a good sign.

The Coyotes defensive zone coverage has been a lot better and they have prevented the top Hawk scorers from having an impact. To make the outcome sting even more Corey Crawford let in a very soft goal for the game winner. Before the misplay, Crawford was the reason why the Hawks were not losing, but his error came at a very bad time.

The game was without much flow until offsetting penalties at the 7:46 mark of period three. In a 65 second span, the game went from 1-0 Chicago, to being tied at two. It should be noted from the start of the period the Coyotes were coming on and the Hawks looked tentative in their own zone.

The Blackhawks rely a great deal on Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook as the two averaged about 34 minutes of ice time each in Game 3. There is a drop-off after those two, in particular Johnny Oduya had a rough night and the other defensemen didn't have sparkling efforts. Anyone who thinks Keith and Seabrook are overpaid should reconsider their position. If not for those two, this series would be all Phoenix.

As it is, the Coyotes have proven to be the more complete squad even though they don't have the high-end talent of the Blackhawks. Phoenix as a group doesn't have as much playoff experience but so far it hasn't mattered. If anything the Hawks looked to be the tighter team in much of Tuesday night's game.

Early speculation indicated a fear Hossa suffered a fractured jaw. Hossa's status is unknown at this time but it appears he didn't suffer a serious injury. The only update on Hossa was that he was released from the hospital and was resting comfortably at home. The Hawks team physician mentioned Hossa should make a complete recovery. That's good news but the possibility of Hossa playing on Thursday is not known.

It is scary to see what is going on around the league and it has been futile to predict what the NHL will decide concerning suspensions. My opinion hasn't changed on Shaw, as long as Smith was able to play it is difficult to understand how any suspension was issued. Not only was the verdict against Shaw, but a three game suspension was really stiff.

Readers will recall my fear Shaw would lose his discipline and be a target of referees. He did make a mistake in not stopping before colliding with Smith, but it would be a reach to place a great deal of blame on Shaw. That is especially so considering Smith never missed a shift. Lesson learned for Shaw and unfortunately the Blackhawks don't have another player with his skill set.

Michael Frolik stepped in Tuesday night and scored a nice goal. Frolik has been haunted as it has been months since he has scored. He is a useful player but can't replace what Shaw brings each game.

Torres should have been issued a five minute penalty and a game misconduct. Instead the Hawks Brandon Bollig was sent off the ice for trying to retaliate. Bollig was given a two minute roughing penalty and a 10 minute misconduct.

Incredibly, the Hawks came out on the short end of the stick because all four officials missed a flagrant foul which happened near center ice. Torres is a repeat offender and should be severely punished. He could be suspended for the rest of the playoffs and his sentence could spill over into next season.

No matter how long Torres is banished, it won't lessen the sting of losing Hossa for any length of time. Originally my take was Torres delivered an elbow to Hossa's head after his skates left the ice. In a conversation between periods with a NHL Supervisor of Referees, he disagreed. He thought it was a charging penalty and then admitted it was also a late hit.

What matters most is every official missed the flagrant foul. Instead of ending up with a five minute power play, the Hawks had to kill off a two minute penalty and lost a player for another ten minutes. Torres laid a vicious hit on Seabrook during last year's playoffs and wasn't suspended then. There should be a better chance of the earth standing still than Torres escaping a suspension this time.

The Blackhawks could have gained control of this series but now face a daunting challenge. If Hossa is unable to return for Game 4 the Hawks will have to dig deep and play their best game.

In some ways, the Hawks were lucky to be tied in the series going into Tuesday night's affair. There is no way much luck was on the side of the Blackhawks Tuesday, and it would be best to not count on any from here on out.

Simply put, the Blackhawks will have to do better in Game 4 or they will be facing an almost impossible task.

Al's Shots

The audio link in the upper right hand corner is from a Tuesday SiriusXM interview. Jamie Shalley and I discussed the inconsistencies of the NHL's disciplinary process. We also reviewed the Hawks post season performances and looked ahead to the rest of the series.

Follow me on Twitter @AlCimaglia

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