Despite holding a third-period lead, the Chicago Blackhawks were summarily done in by the Vegas Golden Knights on Tuesday to suffer their seventh consecutive defeat
The Chicago Blackhawks have proven of late that they’re not a very good hockey team. The latest example came Tuesday in a 5-2 road loss to the upstart Vegas Golden Knights, as the Blackhawks were outplayed all night and saw the fruits of that come about primarily in the third period.
Believe it or not, the Blackhawks have been relatively effective when leading after two periods, as the Chicago Sun-Times’ Mark Lazerus pointed out Tuesday.
Well, you can stick a 1 in the middle of that after the Knights put up four on the Blackhawks in the last period, with goaltender Jeff Glass looking particularly bad in the process. Let’s get to some thoughts from this loss.
No goalie, no hope
It was widely believed the Blackhawks would be in serious trouble if Corey Crawford missed extended time this season. Lo and behold, this entire prophecy has played out.
What’s made matters worse is the Blackhawks have a young goaltender whose coach refuses to allow him to develop, and an old goaltender who is pretty bad but has the coach’s fancy.
Anton Forsberg has been far from perfect, but he’s the goaltender the Blackhawks brought in to be Crow’s backup for, presumably, a fair amount of time. But every time Forsberg has an off night, coach Joel Quenneville is quick to offer the hook.
Da Windy City
Meanwhile, Jeff Glass has had a few solid games, but many more duds. Yet Q can’t seem to get enough of the guy. Last night, when Forsberg allowed a brutal goal to put the Blackhawks down 3-1, Glass was on the ice seemingly before the puck crossed the goal line. Tuesday, Glass permitted an equally awful goal and got to stick around with the Blackhawks facing a similar two-goal deficit. OK, then.
Q has always been inconsistent with his use/treatment of players, but at a key position like goaltender, and with Crow’s future in a weird gray area, this is something that can’t afford to keep happening, even in a lost season. Some sort of reasonable decision needs to be made to actually better the organization’s future in net.
That’s something, anyway.
The Blackhawks were summarily outstatted in most important areas, if not all important areas. But fantasy hockey owners playing with penalty minutes as a stat must’ve been thrilled with Chicago’s output in this one.
If you’ve lost six straight and have proven inferior to a majority of your opponents, the last thing you can do is afford to take 14 minutes worth of penalties. Even while the Knights cashed in just once, it was the game-tying tally early in the third period. Seems pretty important.
It’s good the Blackhawks’ powerplay was mostly effective in this one, but it shouldn’t need to be worked out this much. Certainly, playing against a faster team on the second half of a traveling back-to-back had something to do with it, but that’s not an excuse in the NHL.
Can’t stop the Cat
No matter who Alex DeBrincat gets lined up with, he continues to produce. DeBrincat was back with Patrick Sharp and Ryan Hartman on Tuesday, and he tallied a goal and an assist. He’s now tied Kane for the team goals lead with 21.
DeBrincat shouldn’t be playing with any of the guys he’s been stuck with the last two nights, but the fact he can still produce with bottom-six talent is incredibly impressive.
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DeBrincat is essentially the only Blackhawk worth watching right now. Hopefully we won’t be saying this beyond the 2017-18 season.
Time to quit?
I’m never going to get behind the idea of a tank job, regardless of the situation. But Coach Q doesn’t seem to have so much trouble with this, based on ice times Tuesday.
Normally, when the Blackhawks are in a tight game or chasing, Patrick Kane will see a ton of ice time. He was on the ice for less than 17 minutes on Tuesday, being outgained among forwards by Jonathan Toews and Brandon Saad.
Meanwhile, Brent Seabrook managed to play nearly 24 minutes, including more than six on the penalty kill. If the Blackhawks were seriously concerned with winning right now, Seabs wouldn’t be playing more than 17 or so minutes, if that.
I’m not arguing whether or not the team should be concerned with winning right now — the Blackhawks aren’t making the postseason. I’m more curious if Q is getting orders from up high to just go crazy (which would explain some other things I’ve brought up here), or if he just doesn’t care anymore. I guess it could be both.
The Vegas environment
It’s hard to tell right now if the Knights have long-term staying power. It’ll be interesting to see how they fare in their first postseason. But the city does seem to be getting more involved with the organization.
There were plenty of Blackhawks fans in attendance Tuesday, but you could see ample Knights jerseys in the crowd. The atmosphere, during play and between periods, was pretty electric. Lazerus reported seeing more Knights gear around town, too.
This is good news, as you want to see an expansion franchise latch on with its city. The last thing you want is an Arizona Coyotes situation (I know they’re not an expansion franchise, but the idea is the same). I’m hopeful the Knights’ historic first season draws a solid fan base it can build off moving forward.