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Chicago Blackhawks Fall to Nashville in Overtime: 5 Takeaways

nmeyers
CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 09: Nashville Predators left wing Kevin Fiala (22) controls the puck against Chicago Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews (19) during a game between the Nashville Predators and the Chicago Blackhawks on January 9, 2019, at the United Center in Chicago, IL. (Photo by Patrick Gorski/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 09: Nashville Predators left wing Kevin Fiala (22) controls the puck against Chicago Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews (19) during a game between the Nashville Predators and the Chicago Blackhawks on January 9, 2019, at the United Center in Chicago, IL. (Photo by Patrick Gorski/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /
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Chicago Blackhawks
CHICAGO, IL – JANUARY 09: Alex DeBrincat #12 of the Chicago Blackhawks reacts after scoring against the Nashville Predators in the first period at the United Center on January 9, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images) /

3 – DeBrincat Bumped Up

Last night, Alex DeBrincat was promoted to the top line with Toews and Dominik Kahun and logged 17:01 TOI.  He currently sits at 36 points this year and certainly deserves Kane-Toews level ice time.

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DeBrincat’s hustle and goal scoring ability was on full display last night. He made his presence felt on the first line and added a power play goal as well. DeBrincat generated 7 shots on goal and it doesn’t feel like an overstatement to say that the vast majority of them had a realistic chance of going in.

As a result, this move sent Saad to the third line with Kampf and Drake Caggiula. Saad, though playing less minutes, was still a notable factor on that third line.

4 – Seabrook and Forsling Out; Jokiharju Returns from WJC

The defensive pairings were shaken up with the return of Henri Jokiharju and Brent Seabrook out with illness. Additionally, the Chicago Blackhawks placed Gustav Forsling on IR retroactive to January 5th with a torso injury Wednesday afternoon.

Erik Gustafsson was paired with Duncan Keith and logged 24:04 TOI. His night started out rough as he lost the puck behind his net, giving Nashville the first goal of the game.

Gustafsson not only turned the puck over, but was completely out of position when the goal was scored. He was covering the short side goal post at best, but that doesn’t really accomplish anything.

Gus stood and watched, half-screened Delia and then looked surprised to see the puck go in.

Not great.

If Seabrook or Forsling aren’t back by Saturday’s game against the Vegas Golden Knights, Gustaffson should be bumped for Jokiharju.

5 – Potential Fixes

Kahun wasn’t productive on the first line tonight, and I don’t think he shouldn’t stay there long.  In my opinion, putting Strome and DeBrincat together is more vital than keeping Kane and Strome on the same line.

If Colliton is looking for offensive production out of Saad, he needs to be bumped to the first or second line. He doesn’t play like a defensive minded forward, and is a better asset when paired with other goal scorers. Swapping Artem Anisimov for Saad could be mutually beneficial.

Previously, Jokiharju looked great when paired with Keith. Any confidence he found while winning gold with Finland at the World Junior Tournament likely won’t manifest itself on the third defensive pairing with Brandon Davidson.

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Tonight was not the best showing, but Delia has to be the guy in net moving forward. Using the defensive pairings efficiently while putting the forwards in propitious slots will take a lot of weight of Delia’s shoulders.

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