Analysis

Chicago Blackhawks: Five Thoughts on 4-1 Loss to Arizona Coyotes

By Samuel Boland
CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 18: Alex DeBrincat #12 of the Chicago Blackhawks hits the puck past Vinnie Hinostroza #13 of the Arizona Coyotes in the third period at the United Center on October 18, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Chase Agnello-Dean/NHLI via Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 18: Alex DeBrincat #12 of the Chicago Blackhawks hits the puck past Vinnie Hinostroza #13 of the Arizona Coyotes in the third period at the United Center on October 18, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Chase Agnello-Dean/NHLI via Getty Images) /
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The Chicago Blackhawks experienced their first regulation loss of the young season to the Arizona Coyotes Thursday, falling 4-1. It was a loss full of lessons, so we’ll give you our five thoughts on it here.

No. 1: Corey Crawford looked sharp.

Incase you live under a rock, were asleep for the past 36 hours or haven’t been following the Chicago Blackhawks all that closely this season (two are understandable, one is unacceptable), Corey Crawford started his first game in ten (TEN!) months on Thursday.

Only three months ago it was uncertain whether or not Crawford would ever play hockey again. In fact, Corey himself said he considered retirement amidst his recovery. However, after weeks of conditioning and regaining his mobility, Crawford finally returned to the crease.

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Crawford looked solid overall — he tracked the puck well and his mobility didn’t appear to be an issue. That said, Corey, like previous starter Cam Ward, spent a lot of the night trying to bail out his teammates’ turnovers and mistakes defensively.

For a deeper analysis on Crawford’s first start since December 23rd, 2017, check out deeper dive into it here.

No. 2: The Defense continues to be an issue with no solution in sight.

All eyes were locked on how Corey Crawford would look when returning from injury. As someone who follows the team, I probably should’ve known better than to expect Crawford to be the problem.

He looked to be in midseason form. Unfortunately, so did our defense.

Once again, the Chicago Blackhawks defensemen (and forwards, occasionally) hung their goaltender out to dry. For a perfect example of this, take a look at Lawson Course’s tally to put the Coyotes up 1-0.


First and foremost, watch Henri Jokiharju (28) get caught of position at the blue line. Jokes tries to hold it, but Keller is already off to the races before he can recover.

Jokiharju is a rookie and these mistakes happen, but it doesn’t make it any less of a problem for this team.

What really bothers me, though, is the play Brandon Manning makes on the puck.

Or really, the play he doesn’t make. At the red line it’s already clear that he’s going to be defending a 2-on-1. Two Coyotes forwards are skating full steam ahead and Manning knows that he’s the only one back with maybe a step on them.

In his defense, he does a good job skating hard to put himself in position to make a play.

The problem is, he doesn’t make a play at all. Each forward plants themselves in their respective circles and Manning freezes at the hashmarks. He should go to pressure one of them.

If Manning challenges Keller and Crouse is all alone, fine. If Manning commits to the pass leaving Keller with an opportunity to shoot, whatever. He was decisive, it didn’t work out, move on. There are still ways to challenge a puck carrier on a 2-on-1 without over committing to him.

The biggest problem is that Manning does nothing. He freezes and makes a half hearted attempt at both forwards.

He played that 2-on-1 about as well as the Blackhawks mannequins do in practice.

That play ended up being the last straw for coach Joel Quenneville who is scratching Manning tonight in exchange for Davidson.

While this was just one specific example, it perfectly encapsulates the problem the Chicago Blackhawks are dealing with. Manning was brought in to help with the problems they experienced defensively. Instead, he’s earning himself his first healthy scratch only six games after signing a two year contract worth $4.5 million dollars.

Not great.

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