Analysis

5 Chicago Blackhawks’ Thoughts From Lackluster Loss To Red Wings

By Colin Likas
CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 14: Danny DeKeyser
CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 14: Danny DeKeyser /
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In one of those old trap-style games, the Chicago Blackhawks took too long to wake up in the first period against the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday, and it ultimately cost the home team

The Detroit Red Wings aren’t currently a difficult opponent to face, in general. They’re currently in some sort of quasi rebuild and have struggled this season. This alone was good news for the Chicago Blackhawks heading into Sunday’s matinee matchup, but even better was that Detroit had played yesterday in Pittsburgh.

That didn’t make much of a difference in the end, as the Blackhawks were asleep at the wheel for an 11:30 a.m. start and just couldn’t beat Petr Mrazek once they perked up. The Red Wings snagged a 4-0 victory, and the Blackhawks enter their bye week out of the postseason picture and with some negative vibes.

Let’s take a look at five thoughts from this result.

Non-quality defense

The Blackhawks’ defense was pretty porous during this affair, allowing some grade-A chances to get to goaltender Jeff Glass. The pairing of Jordan Oesterle and Duncan Keith in particular had a lot of trouble, with Oesterle finding himself out of position and committing turnovers on multiple occasions.

I know the NBC broadcast was talking up how great it was that Chicago’s defense likes to pinch in and play up on offense, but watching it today, I’m not sure what all the fuss was about. It’s more of a detriment, than anything, as most of the Blackhawks’ blueliners are not fast enough to get back in defense after chipping in on offense.

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Case in point, when Gustav Forsling committed a slash on Andreas Athanasiou on a really simple rush back toward Glass. It’s the kind of thing that happens when you pinch in and can’t compensate for it. Maybe the Blackhawks’ defenders should focus on playing defense.

Losing the net

Though Glass often wasn’t getting help from his defensemen (and forwards), it’s not as though he did nothing wrong in this game.

The second Detroit goal, tallied by defenseman Mike Green, may have seemed unstoppable at first glance. But if you watch how slowly Glass goes from side to side in net, it becomes clear someone like Corey Crawford could have knocked that blast down.

Glass also continued his penchant for losing the net. One particularly egregious example came when Gustav Nyquist blasted through four Blackhawks in 4-on-4 play. Nyquist got Glass to bite so hard on a move to the outside, that it actually forced Nyquist to change his plan because Glass had completely exited the blue paint.

Then, Glass took a solid four seconds to get back in the paint while the play kept going. While he ended up making a save, it was just a really bad look. And it was far from the only time this happened on the day. Glass’ record is misleading, in my opinion, as he’s benefited from some decent games from his teammates. This was not one of those occasions.

Nothing going offensively

The Blackhawks controlled play for a large portion of the first period after Detroit’s two goals and couldn’t do much. They had their chances in the second period, and nothing happened. The third period didn’t offer much, but it might as well have been the same as the first two frames.

Too many of the Blackhawks’ chances were of low quality. The only amazing chances I can remember are when one of Chicago’s powerplays ended in the first period, and the team kept up pressure for some time in the offensive zone, and an Anthony Duclair drag move that created a nice chance between the circles in the second period.

I’m not sure exactly how many blocked shots Detroit had, but if you told me it was north of 100, I’d probably believe you. (Exaggeration is a powerful tool sometimes.)

Also, the forwards as defenders were also weak. On the third Detroit tally, the Blackhawks made an abysmal line change and left Oesterle and Keith to fend against what became three Wings. On the fourth goal, Patrick Sharp left the defensive zone way too soon, allowing Tyler Bertuzzi to mop up a rebound right in front of Glass.

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I can rag on the defensemen all day, but the forwards have to do their part as well. And I can’t say they did in this one.

Settle on a line

Coach Joel Quenneville‘s line blender wasn’t too wild Sunday, but there was one noticeable change: Duclair and Vinnie Hinostroza, at one point, swapped spots on the first and third lines.

I don’t mind this, as both players bring good speed, hands and shooting skills. However, Coach Q needs to decide during the upcoming bye week which of these guys is going on which line.

The worst thing he can do is toss Duclair all over the place as soon as he walks in the door. This is what happened with guys like Tomas Fleischmann and Dale Weise. While not as talented as Duclair, it certainly didn’t help those two adjust to playing in Chicago.

Rest required

The Blackhawks will not play again until Saturday at home against the New York Islanders. This starts a tough stretch that includes games against Tampa Bay, Toronto and Nashville to end the month.

The Blackhawks’ resolve is seriously going to be tested in that time. If they’re going to be a serious postseason threat, they’re going to need to find some wins in that time. They’re going to have to settle on some lines and pairings during the break and come out firing on all cylinders to end January.

Next: Duclair Proves To Be Strong In Blackhawks' Debut

Oh, and they need Corey Crawford to get healthy. But considering a timeline still doesn’t exist for his return, that’s creating some serious nervous tension in the Windy City.

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