Chicago Blackhawks’ Weaknesses Exposed In Win Over Predators

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 12: Connor Murphy
CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 12: Connor Murphy /

The Chicago Blackhawks got two points Saturday night against the Predators, but not without exposing some of their key weaknesses

After two periods of hockey Saturday night, many Chicago Blackhawks fans were getting deja vu as the Predators continued to shut out the ‘Hawks at the United Center.  But after Patrick Sharp scored on a Preds turnover and Brandon Saad sealed the deal in overtime, the ‘Hawks got a little revenge against the team that ended their season early last year.

There is no question that these teams have developed a new hatred for each other, and that spoke loudly with the number of hits there were.  But there was a lot of similarities in this game and the playoff series from last year.

The Blackhawks are a puck possession team that controls the pace of the game.  But just like the St. Louis Blues, the Preds know exactly how to play them.  Similar to how football defenses “load the box” when they assume a quarterback can’t throw, the Preds continued to stack the blue line and force the Blackhawks to play dump-and-chase.  Zone entries were mucked up, turnovers were forced and pressure bottled up the ’Hawks.

Here are a few weaknesses the Blackhawks have that were exposed in this victory.

Where was Connor Murphy?

On the Predators’ only goal of the game, you may have noticed something unique about their powerplay setup.  There was a player right in front of Corey Crawford and another higher up in the slot.  Between the two, they took away a lot of the vision for Crawford to see the puck, so when an innocent shot came from the point, Crow gave up a rebound to a wide-open Filip Forsberg.

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  • One of the qualities the Blackhawks loved in defenseman Connor Murphy was his ability to be physical below the goal line and clear his net.  But Murphy was a healthy scratch Saturday for reasons unknown.

    I’m not sure what coach Joel Quenneville is looking for from Murphy, but the guy who was traded for Niklas Hjalmarsson needs to be on the ice.  It’s one thing to punish a guy who is playing poorly, but keeping him from the system he needs to adjust to isn’t helping.  The defensive depth issues will continue to be a problem, even with Jan Rutta adding some nice reliability.

    Alex DeBrincat gets trucked — again

    I like Alex DeBrincat’s game.  Really, I do.  But he’s really showing his age out there.  DeBrincat took another huge hit Saturday in the corner that should’ve started a fight, but Artem Anisimov didn’t drop the gloves.

    Here are my problems with him being up.  Part of young players going to the minors is them getting used to playing frequently and getting on a professional fitness plan.  DeBrincat isn’t the fastest guy out there, and he’s not absorbing anticipated hits.  Some hits you can’t anticipate, but he’s flying off NHL defensemen into the boards.

    His IQ is fantastic and there is no doubt he’ll score a lot of points in this league, but he needs to talk to Patrick Kane about not getting hit as a small guy.  And maybe a good place for him to practice that is in Rockford.

    Powerplay is ice cold

    The Blackhawks were 0 for 6 on the powerplay Saturday against the Predators, and were 1 for 5 against the Wild the other night.  I’m not sure what the problem is with the ‘Hawks and being at an offensive advantage, but whatever they’re doing isn’t working.

    The ‘Hawks traded away Artemi Panarin because he was a “perimeter player,” yet all this team does on the powerplay is play four corners until the other team dumps it down.  This has been a problem for years now and you’d think that with these new assistant coaches they’d try something different. But we’ve yet to see anything of the sort.

    Maybe a star-studded powerplay unit isn’t what’s necessary.  Maybe putting Richard Panik and Saad up front to clean up some rebounds would help?  This powerplay is a broken record right now, and watching it struggle to “set up” when teams unsuspectingly forecheck is plain lazy.  I hold my breath every time the Blackhawks try to squeeze by four defenders, only to cough it up moments later.

    Regardless of the exposed weaknesses, a win is a win so the ‘Hawks will take the two points.  It’s just disconcerting that the Preds defense was missing Roman Josi and Ryan Ellis, but still gave the ‘Hawks trouble.

    Next: Blackhawks 5 Thoughts On 2-1 Win Vs. Predators

    It’s a good thing the Blackhawks don’t play again until Wednesday, so they’ll have time to watch tape on their first two games that looked a lot better than the ones since.  But then again, everything goes out the window when you play St. Louis.