Analysis

Chicago Blackhawk Three Takeaways From St. Louis Blues Defeat

By Mario Tirabassi
Oct 12, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; St. Louis Blues center Paul Stastny (26) scores against Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford (50) during the third period at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 12, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; St. Louis Blues center Paul Stastny (26) scores against Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford (50) during the third period at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Chicago Blackhawks fell to the St. Louis Blues 5-2 on opening night, but that’s not the end of the story

The Chicago Blackhawks opened up the long-awaited 2016-17 season against the team that ended their 2015-16 campaign, the St. Louis Blues.

Opening night of the NHL season should be a North American holiday. It basically is in Canada, not so much in the States. That’s a topic for another time, but the focus is that HOCKEY IS BACK!

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After the introduction to the season, the anthem and puck drop, the Blackhawks started the year facing a lot of questions. Early on, it seemed like many would get quick answers.

Would the powerplay struggle again this season? Nope, Richard Panik got the Blackhawks on the board with a powerplay goal in the first period.

Are the young players going to need a learning curve to get up to NHL speed? Yeah, probably. While Ryan Hartman scored his first NHL goal in the second period, it was a lone bright spot for the young group in their first taste of real NHL action together.

Before moving on to Friday’s game on the road against the Nashville Predators, what are some takeaways from opening night of the 2016-17 season?

Check it out: Chicago Blackhawks Milk Carton – TVR Edition

Blackhawks takeaways

1 . Patience is a virtue

Thinking that the youth movement in Chicago would turn out like Auston Matthews did on opening night would be a pipe dream. The Blackhawks organization will need to give the players time to develop and, yes, time to make rookie mistakes.

Those things need to happen so that they can learn how to correct them and become better players. You don’t get better by watching, you get better by playing.

It is going to take patience from the front office, the coaching staff, and the fans for the Blackhawks and their young talent to get up to NHL game speed. The only hope is that it doesn’t take too long or they could find themselves playing catch-up all season.

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2. PIMs on PIMs on PIMs on PIMs

The Blackhawks couldn’t help themselves last night when it came to penalties. In a stretch of the second period and into the third period, Chicago committed four penalties in less than four minutes of actual game time.

Jonathan Toews, slashing. Artem Anisimov, hooking. Duncan Keith, high-stick. Trevor van Riemsdyk, boarding. (Boarding? Really?)

All in all, the Blackhawks put themselves down a man and down to a pair of 5-on-3 penalty kills. The Blues took full advantage of it, scoring two powerplay goals in that span.

Overall, Chicago would kill just two of St. Louis’ five powerplay chances.

Chicago ranked 28th last season in penalty minutes (PIM) per game with 7:27, but ranked just 22nd in penalty kill percentage, killing off 80.3 percent of its penalties. The efficiency of the Blackhawks’ penalty-killing unit has to be better if they are to continue their recent level of success. If not, more of what happened last night will continue throughout the year.

3. Speed is great, but it has to go somewhere

Watching the game last night, the team looked fast. It could have been because it was against the Blues. But nonetheless, fast. Defensive-zone exits were working nicely thanks to the puck movement and skating abilities of new additions Michal Kempny, Brian Campbell, and Gustav Forsling, but it did not lead to an increase in scoring chances.

Chicago mustered up just 19 shots on net, compared to the Blues’ 34 shots on net. The Blackhawks shouldn’t have less than 20 shots on net the rest of the season. There is too much skill on the top end and too much newly added speed for that to be the case.

Also, no more no-look passes behind you. Please? For everybody’s sake. No more.

Looking Ahead

At 0-1-0, the Blackhawks now focus their attention to the NHL Central Division favorite Nashville Predators. Friday night’s game is on NBCSN again, puck drop is at 7p CT.

Next: Blackhawks Milk Carton: TVR Edition

Expect more changes in the lineup for the Blackhawks as they face the much-faster-than-St.-Louis Predators:

Boy, I hope so.

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