Chicago Blackhawks’ 3 Heroes, Goats From Opening Night Loss

By Colin Likas
Oct 12, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks right wing Ryan Hartman (2-R) celebrates with teammates after scoring against the St. Louis Blues during the second period at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 12, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks right wing Ryan Hartman (2-R) celebrates with teammates after scoring against the St. Louis Blues during the second period at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports /
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Oct 4, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks right wing Jordin Tootoo (22), defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk (57) and defenseman Duncan Keith (2) celebrates after scoring a goal during the first period of play against Detroit Red Wings during a preseason game at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Caylor Arnold-USA TODAY Sports /

Blackhawks’ goats

— Trevor van Riemsdyk. If coach Joel Quenneville had any doubts about which defenseman should leave the lineup when Niklas Hjalmarsson returns from his suspension Friday, they were quickly answered in this game.

TVR was absolutely abysmal. He was repeatedly pantsed near the net, including once by a fellow defenseman in Colton Parayko. And Parayko was falling down while he pantsed TVR. How does that even happen?

TVR looked really slow, he was constantly out of position and he took two minor penalties to boot. Somehow, he still managed more ice time than Forsling at 16:06. That number will go down to 0:00 Friday, but don’t worry. TVR will probably wind up rotating with Kempny and Michal Rozsival. Joy.

— Jordin Tootoo. The guy played 4:26. As The Committed Indian pointed out, he wasn’t on the ice for a single Chicago scoring attempt for. The one time I actually remembered seeing Tootoo was in a board battle in his own zone, in which he kind of just dropped his stick and skated toward the middle of the ice.

Q quickly realized Tootoo wasn’t going to work without putting him next to a pair of guys capable of carrying him to success. Nick Schmaltz in his first NHL game and Vinnie Hinostroza in his eighth weren’t that pair.

The worst part about Tootoo playing was he actually dragged down those two youngsters. Tootoo hardly played, and Q didn’t seem to want to jumble his younger/newcomer forwards too soon. So Schmaltz (8:51) and Hinostroza (7:47) hardly played either.

We need to see what these youngsters have to offer, and having them drag around an anchor won’t let that happen. Get Dennis Rasmussen in the lineup Friday, push Schmaltz to a wing and let’s see what that line can do.

— The refs, the vets and the penalty kill. Alright, so there was a hideous segment late in the second period and early in the third in which the Blackhawks couldn’t stop committing penalties. And it wasn’t the young guys, for the most part. Jonathan Toews, Anisimov, Duncan Keith and TVR all saw the box between the 17:54 mark of the second period and the 1:31 mark of the third.

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Thing is, the calls against Toews and Anisimov were extremely soft. Toews was called for a pretty light slash, after which Parayko (I think) flopped into the wall like someone had cut his feet off. Anisimov’s hook in the middle of the defensive-zone ice was also sketchy.

But as veterans of the team, those guys can’t be putting themselves in the position to get called for penalties, especially when the Blues were clearly outskating Chicago in the second period to begin with.

So then we get to the PK, which was severely hampered by Hjammer being out. So that wasn’t a good start. Toews, Anisimov and Keith are all PK guys as well. So … you see where that’s going.

On top of that, Vladimir Tarasenko was constantly left open on the Blues’ powerplays. I know 5-on-3s are going to leave ample space for the offensive team, but if there’s one guy you want to try and cut off, it’s Tarasneko. Instead, he was kind of given free reign over the ice.

Just not a great effort from the PK unit overall. Hopefully Hjammer’s return boost that unit.

Bonus goat

— The United Center audio and ice crews. Oi. If there was ever a harbinger for a bad night, it had to have been the UC’s audio system crapping out for the first half of Jim Cornelison’s national anthem. I assumed NBC had just screwed up the audio, but a friend in attendance at the game told me otherwise.

Far more egregious, however, was the condition of the ice. I know it’s typically not that good. Early in the season, it’s especially difficult to get the ice in “good” condition. But last night … the puck resembled a ping pong ball.

Next: 3 Takeaways From Opening Night Loss

There was a point late in the contest when Kempny, trying to turn behind his own net with no one even close to him, simply fell over. I’m going to assume Kempny knows how to skate, and he was far from the only one falling with little to no contact. Let’s hope for better UC ice moving forward.