TAMPA, Fla. — Blackhawks interim coach Derek King laid out, in the simplest possible way, why the Blackhawks lost to the Lightning on Thursday.
“We try,” King said. “We just can’t compete with that type of team. We’re not there. We don’t have the players for it.”
He might as well have said the Lightning are good and the Hawks are bad. It’s not much more complicated than that.
That power imbalance was evident immediately as the Lightning whipped the puck around the offensive zone faster than the Hawks could even follow, much less defend. And it was evident on the scoreboard at the end of the night, too, as the Lightning pulled away for a 5-2 win.
The Hawks’ two road games in 24 hours in Florida went about as poorly as expected. They were outscored 9-2 cumulatively and left with two losses, stretching their overall losing streak to four straight.
“I thought Florida was a pretty good team,” King added. “This is a pretty good team. That’s a tough call between the two of them.
“These are the games we get to play on the road, the two top teams maybe in a battle for that conference [championship]. Obviously, I would have loved to see all the ex-Tampa Bay guys score some goals and our power play get a couple and [for us to] stay in this. … But we just didn’t have the juice.”
The Hawks did counter Brandon Hagel’s appearance in a blue sweater by starting a line composed of Tyler Johnson, Taylor Raddysh and Boris Katchouk, and Johnson later received a big ovation from the crowd after his tribute video.
But outside of that and Calvin de Haan’s second goal in three games –matching his total from his previous 117 games –the Hawks predictably didn’t have much to celebrate. They were buried in shots on goal (43-23), scoring chances (44-16) and, of course, sheer talent.
“[We’ve] gotto give our goalies a little bit of run support…[and] we’ve got to limit those grade-‘A’ chances,” de Haan said. “It’s kind of the same old song and dance.”