The Chicago Blackhawks lost what was perhaps their most frustrating game yet 4-0 to the Edmonton Oilers. As frustrating as it was, this game perfectly embodied everything that’s wrong with the 2018-19 Chicago Blackhawks.
Chicago Blackhawks fans across the national found themselves spoiled, and perhaps mislead, after the team started the season taking eight out of a possible ten points and not losing in regulation until their sixth game of the season.
Even the group of fans who are routinely pessimistic were pleasantly surprised when the team was sitting at 6-2-2.
In those ten games, Patrick Kane, Alex DeBrincat and Jonathan Toews took turns letting the remaining Chicago Blackhawks roster ride around on their shoulders as they were the prime producers offensively. While it’s great to see the guys you need producing actually doing so, it takes more than three players to win games.
Even with a healthy Corey Crawford and a significantly better-than-expected Cam Ward in goal, this tandem can only bail out poor defensive efforts and unforced turnovers so many times.
Against the Edmonton Oilers, we saw a perfect example of this team’s most glaring problems and, perhaps more importantly, what happens when this offensive trio doesn’t produce and goaltending faces too many dangerous chances.
Two of the team’s biggest problems with this team were on full display in that 4-0 loss and we’ll do our best to dive into them.
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Fourteen games into the 2018-19 regular season, Toews, Kane and DeBrincat alone have accounted for 60.5% of the Chicago Blackhawks goals. They’ve scored 26 of the teams 43 goals.
In past seasons it’s taken time for the ‘Hawks to get their stars to start scoring, so I’m not complaining about the fact that these are the guys who are leading the way. However, what bothers me is the sheer lack or production from anyone else.
Brandon Saad is the next highest scoring player on the list, however he’s only tallied three goals. Everyone else is sitting at two or less.
It’s still early, but Chris Kunitz does not seem to be the effective, depth-scoring Patrick Sharp of years past. Additionally, though guys like Luke Johnson and Alexandre Fortin have promise, no one seems to be the second coming of Teuvo Teräväinen. And yeah, John Hayden and Andreas Martinsen can throw their bodies around, but they haven’t put pucks in the way Andrew Shaw or Ryan Hartman did.
Not everyone has to be a 20-goal scorer, however being carried by three players offensively isn’t a sustainable model, either.
In Edmonton this issue was on full display as the Blackhawks big-three (or small-three, in the case of DeBrincat) went dormant against the Oilers (partially due to Kane being less than 100%) and no one else was able to step up.
This has been a problem all season long and, though Saad stepped up against Vancouver in Kane’s absence, it looks as if it will continue to be unless these young guys start learning, and fast.