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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Chicago Blackhawks
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – JANUARY 12: Shea Theodore #27 of the Vegas Golden Knights scores the game-winning goal against Collin Delia #60 of the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center on January 12, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. The Golden Knights defeated the Blackhawks 4-3 in overtime. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

3 – Brandon Pirri?

Coming into this game, one-time Blackhawk Brandon Pirri had scored 7 goals in 9 games for the Vegas Knights. After bouncing around the NHL and AHL with a tainted reputation, Pirri has found himself to be in the spotlight with his recent feeding frenzy of scoring.

However, the ‘Hawks and goalie Collin Delia were able to keep Pirri off the scoresheet, despite having some serious scoring chances. Hockey is an amazing sport.

4 – Failure to hold leads continues.

It’s a broken record, but the Blackhawks’ inconsistent defensive play is still a problem.

We’ve detailed this problem time and time again, but we see the same results. The team is living the definition of insanity by trotting out the same players and expecting a different result. The first four minutes of the game saw Delia with a mishandle and Brent Seabrook with a terrible turnover, both leading to scoring threats from the Knights.

Additionally Carl Dahlstrom, part of what Twitter is calling the Blackhawks’ supposed “shut-down” pairing, had a rough night. On the game tying goal, he passively defended Ryan Carpenter, who snapped off a wicked wrister past Delia.

Take a look at how not to defend:

And on the overtime game-winner, Dahlstrom allowed “speedy forward defenseman” Shea Theodore to blow past him to sneak a shot through Delia. Dahlstrom’s lack of speed was again exposed in this soft goal.

Warning, viewing this goal may be hazardous to your health:

The ability to shut opponents down while owning a lead falls on the defense as constructed.  While Dahlstrom and Connor Murphy can play a decent physical half-court game, especially on the penalty kill, they don’t have the speed to be an effective shut-down pair in 5-on-5 play and especially against the rush.

Again, much of the problem is the team’s failure to suppress opponents’ shots.

The ‘Hawks were out-shot 33-23. While the number of shots was less than we’ve seen recently, the number of high quality scoring chances was high against Delia. The team needs to find answers for questions that are two years old.

5-Brandon Saad, where are you?

The curious case of Brandon Saad continues. After a cold start this season, he started to find his game and found himself back on the top line with Toews and Kahun. But he has hit another slump and is currently on the third line. Against the Knights, he was a minus-2 with 2 shots on goal in 15:57 of ice time. He also was credited with being offside to negate a Patrick Kane goal.

But to his credit, he did have solid night on the penalty kill and did draw a 4-minute penalty on which the ‘Hawks scored. At the end of the day. the Chicago Blackhawks need him to start stepping up his game again.

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The ‘Hawks will have a chance to step up their team game this coming Monday when they visit the sinking New Jersey Devils. We shall see what we shall see.

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