Analysis

5 Thoughts: Chicago Blackhawks lose to Vegas Knights in overtime

By Stephen Yatsushiro
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)
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) /
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The Chicago Blackhawks lost their second consecutive overtime loss Saturday night to the Vegas Golden Knights.  Here are my 5 thoughts on the disappointing loss.

1 – Alex DeBrincat and Dominik Kahun are developing some chemistry on the top line.

The two young Chicago Blackhawks‘ forwards put together a solid game after looking a bit ragged in their first game back together against the Nashville Predators.  After the team opened the game with a a sloppy first four minutes, Kahun neatly fed DeBrincat for a slick backhand shot to beat Vegas Golden Knights‘ goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury.

Through the game, they were both looking for each other in the offensive zone and creating possession time, with some nice give-and-go plays and cross-ice passes. Their hustle and skill are nice complements to Jonathan Toews‘ hard-driving play.

It’s encouraging to see this line developing as a legitimate scoring threat. As the ‘Hawks continue to figure out what they have with their young talent, DeBrincat is ramping up his scoring at a torrid pace.

Additionally, Kahun is showing some high-end puck handling ability and speed as well. His hockey IQ is pretty keen and tonight it showed on his assist on DeBrincat’s first period goal. Take a look:

2 – The power play continues to roll.

The Chicago Blackhawks converted on two of four power play opportunities. The reasons for the surge are that Erik Gustafsson now quarterbacks the first unit, and that unit has figured out how to play the 1-3-1 overload.

While Gustafsson still has defensive shortcomings, there is no denying that his offensive prowess is very high. As the sole defender at the blue line, he has the speed to keep pucks in the zone and the smooth skating ability to walk the puck sideways along the blue line. This lateral movement opens up passing and shooting lanes.

With two skilled forwards along each half board in DeBrincat and Patrick Kane, Gustafsson can alternate the direction of the attack. The second big factor is that both DeBrincat and Kane move north and south to stay in a straight line with the pivot-man Toews. This is crucial in creating passing and shooting opportunities.

Watch on DeBrincat’s goal how the two forwards are perfectly in sync with each other.

Notice that even on Kane’s power play tally, DeBrincat slid up high as Kane glided in low on his shot, maintaining a straight line with Kane and Toews.

By doing so, DeBrincat opened himself up for a potential pass from Kane.

This is how the 1-3-1 is supposed to work. Kudos to coach Jeremy Colliton and his staff for fixing what used to be a major problem.

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