The Chicago Blackhawks were on the receiving end of a hat-trick while spending most of the game playing catch-up with the Winnipeg Jets. Turnovers and the consistent problematic defense made for a 5th straight loss against a strong divisional rival.
Chicago is currently in the midst of their toughest week of games this year. The Blackhawks traveled to Winnipeg Thursday after the wheels fell off at the United Center Tuesday night at the hands of the Vegas Golden Knights. An 8-3 loss to the Knights was preceded by a trip north to a Cup contending Central division rival.
The Blackhawks entered Winnipeg 8-12-5 with 23 points on the season. They went up against a 13-8-2 Jets team that is slowing climbing up the chain of the Central division at 28 points. Winnipeg also leads the league in home power-play at 36.4%, and second in the league overall at 29.6%. The Blackhawks lead the league in the most goals given up in the first period (31).
More from Blackhawk Up
- Blackhawks: Three Noticeable Improvements in Comeback Win vs Blues
- Blackhawks: Key Takeaways from 3-2 win over the Blues
- Blackhawks: Grading Connor Murphy and a position comparison
- Blackhawks: Shuffling the lines to try and spark offense at 5 on 5
- These Lineup Changes could Solve the Blackhawks’ Scoring Problem
So. Let’s do that hockey.
The first period started off with Patrik Laine’s 100th career goal and the 4th youngest player in NHL history to do. Marcus Kruger tallied his 3rd goal of the season in the first, later followed by John Hayden’s second goal of the year. The first period ended at 2-2 which shots on goal favoring the Jets 15-13. In their last five games, the Blackhawks have allowed the first within the first six minutes of the first period.
The Blackhawks somehow couldn’t muster double-digit shots on goal in the second period, ending with 4 even strength chances. Jan Rutta tee’d up a loose puck in full view of Hellebuyck Chicago’s only second-period goal.
Defensive liabilities are still the hallmark of this Blackhawks squad. The 3rd period was a clinic on bad puck possession and poor choices from defensemen. Jan Rutta scrambles with the puck on the left of the crease to start the period.
Patrik Laine picks it up for his second of the night. He now leads the league in goals scored. Rutta can’t make that mistake with Laine right in front of him, that close to the net.
Erik Gustafsson makes an errant east-to-west pass, easily robbed by Nikolaj Ehlers for the hat trick. If this game was at the United Center this would be about the time fans would start heading for the door. Nail, meet coffin.
Possibly the brightest spot for Chicago was Alex DeBrincat’s pass to Patrick Kane to set up Artem Anisimov late in the third. Wide open entry gave all three forwards plenty of room to create a play to bring the game to 6-5.
Even after pulling Corey Crawford and keeping offensive-minded defensemen Gustaffson and Rutta on the ice, the Blackhawks couldn’t tie it up.
Hayden, Kampf, and Kahun are looking like a solid and productive third line with 2 goals and 2 assists in the loss. The 1st and 2nd period Chicago only trailed shots on goal by 2. The team is still waiting for consistent production from the top lines.
Want your voice heard? Join the Blackhawk Up team!
Until Chicago trades for more competent defensemen, the top 6 forwards are going to be key in keeping the team afloat. Rumor has it that Anisimov could be next on the traded. If his value goes up with continued production, Chicago might be able to flip him for D-Man and a pick (ideally.) The current D lines can’t hold on to the puck, maintain possession or block shots. Adding a porous defensive pairing in front of Crawford puts extra weight on his shoulders.