Analysis

Chicago Blackhawks’ Retooling Now Points to Defense

By Stephen Yatsushiro
CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 10: Stan Bowman, Chicago Blackhawks senior vice president and general manager, speaks to the media in between periods of the game between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Minnesota Wild at the United Center on January 10, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Chase Agnello-Dean/NHLI via Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 10: Stan Bowman, Chicago Blackhawks senior vice president and general manager, speaks to the media in between periods of the game between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Minnesota Wild at the United Center on January 10, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Chase Agnello-Dean/NHLI via Getty Images) /
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Chicago Blackhawks
CHICAGO, IL – NOVEMBER 27: Brayden McNabb #3 of the Vegas Golden Knights loses his footing against the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center on November 27, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Chase Agnello-Dean/NHLI via Getty Images) /

Primary assist for Crawford

As momentum shifted toward the Knights, the ‘Hawks team defense struggled more and more.  At 12:14, Corey Crawford decided to take matters into his own hands and attempted to clear his zone, rather than allow the beleaguered Brendan Manning to handle the puck.

The result was a perfect pass right to Alex Tuch for a quick snipe.

Three strikes and you’re out, or maybe not

Late in the first period, a Chicago Blackhawks turnover in the Golden Knights’ zone led to a rush the other way. As luck would have it, a deflected pass from Max Pacioretty found a wide open Cody Eakin in the slot for a waltz-in goal.

After this third goal, the buzz around the United Center was that Crawford would be pulled. But that didn’t happen.

That said, even if Crawford wasn’t pulled, the team had already pulled out.

Take a look at the tide chart from Micah Blake McCurdy (@IneffectiveMath) which clearly shows the ‘Hawks’ losing energy after the disallowed goal. They attempted one more surge, but were done for the night after the Eakin goal.

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger?

The Chicago Blackhawks defensive struggles started two seasons ago and still exist today. After all, we’ve written numerous articles here at BlackhawkUp about this.

It’s hard to admit, but Duncan Keith is no longer a no. 1 defenseman. The iron-man minutes he’s logged over the years have caught up with him. His ability to turn and chase is nowhere near what it was in 2015, the year of the last Stanley Cup win.

I’ve been an apologist for him in recent past, owing his struggles to a lack of decent partners. That said, it’s become unfortunately clear that he’s lost a step and the egregious turnovers are the result of age and fatigue.

Additionally, we’ve repeatedly discussed Brent Seabrook and his struggles with aging. He and Keith are still good defenders, just not elite anymore. What doesn’t kill you simply wears you down in their case.

So where do the next elite defenders come from?

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