5 Chicago Blackhawks Thoughts After Ugly First Period Against Jets
By Colin Likas
OK, so maybe most of the Chicago Blackhawks’ Thursday tilt against the Winnipeg Jets was ugly, but it was an especially bad first period that sealed the fate of the visiting squad
The Chicago Blackhawks had some surprising success against the Winnipeg Jets earlier in the season, posting a 5-1 victory in December and a 2-1 win in January. That result was not repeated Thursday, as the Jets imposed their will in the first period en route to a 6-2 success.
Winnipeg responded to an early Brandon Saad strike by netting five consecutive goals before the first period had ended. That concluded Anton Forsberg‘s night early, and J.F. Berube didn’t fare too much better before that first horn.
Let’s get to some thoughts about another defeat for the Blackhawks,
Whizzing and whirring
This would describe how the Jets were playing around the Blackhawks throughout the night. I’d imagine Forsberg and Berube would want three of Winnipeg’s five first-period goals back, but to be fair, they weren’t getting much help.
On each tally, there was either a Blackhawks turnover, a Blackhawks failed clearing attempt or a bad Blackhawks line change. Sometimes, there was more than one of these things in a single play.
This is exactly where Corey Crawford comes in handy. Unfortunately, neither Forsberg nor Berube is presently good enough to keep up the way Crow did in these situations. This is something to watch during the offseason.
The Blackhawks went 0 for 3 on the powerplay Thursday. This is no surprise. But there’s something interesting to be seen in the forwards’ special teams’ clockings.
All but two of Chicago’s forwards saw some sort of powerplay ice time. Those two would be Saad and Matthew Highmore. Why, exactly, were those two left off?
Da Windy City
I understand this is a lost season and coach Joel Quenneville might as well just throw things at the wall and see what sticks. But considering Saad scored 11 seconds into the contest, and has a power-forward presence that could be useful on the man-advantage, while Highmore was presumably brought up because he was scoring frequently in the AHL, it’s odd to see those two left out in the cold.
Special teams positive
The Blackhawks did have a few good takeaways from this negative results. They finished with just seven giveaways to 18 for the Jets. I think all seven Chicago giveaways led to a goal against, but hey. You win some, you lose some.
Additionally, the Blackhawks stoned the Jets’ powerplay on four occasions. Winnipeg has the best home powerplay in the league, as noted by WGN 720-AM’s John Wideman and Troy Murray.
So while Q’s staff can’t get anything to work on the powerplay, at least the guys found something effective on the PK on Thursday.
DeBrincat’s scoring drought
Alex DeBrincat has not scored a goal in his last 12 games. While this hardly matters in the grand scheme of the season, it’s an interesting note for a player who hasn’t gone through many skids like this in his professional career.
DeBrincat will be just fine, I’m sure. But this is a moment in which he can learn something about playing at the NHL level, as noted by the Chicago Sun-Times’ Mark Lazerus. Opponents will start to scout him better, and he’ll need to adjust. Perhaps he’s learning that now.
In the midst of a lost season, this could be a very valuable experience for DeBrincat as he tries to be part of the next wave of young talent to lead the Blackhawks.
We’ll end these five thoughts with something beyond the Blackhawks, though it still ties back to them. Chris Kuc previously covered the organization as part of the Chicago Tribune. He had since been moved to cover the Chicago Bulls and White Sox.
On Thursday, Kuc was laid off in a bevy of staff cuts. This is frustrating stuff to see, as Kuc has always been a solid sports reporter. He’s also a really fun guy for fans to interact with on social media.
Next: 5 Blackhawks Actions That Must Happen Before 18-19
Kuc very likely will find a new home rather quickly (The Athletic?), but for now it’s a sad note for the present-day Chicago sports scene. The Blackhawks recently had the likes of Kuc, Lazerus, Chris Hine and Tracey Myers covering them. Now, one has been laid off, one took a job in Minnesota and a third works for NHL.com. The times, they are a’changin.