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5 Thoughts: Chicago Blackhawks lose 4-3 to the Dallas Stars

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CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - FEBRUARY 24: Mattias Janmark #13 of the Dallas Stars and Gustav Forsling #42 of the Chicago Blackhawksbattle for the puck at the United Center on February 24, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - FEBRUARY 24: Mattias Janmark #13 of the Dallas Stars and Gustav Forsling #42 of the Chicago Blackhawksbattle for the puck at the United Center on February 24, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /
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The Chicago Blackhawks looked to stay in playoff contention against the Dallas Stars in a Sunday matinee game.  They couldn’t outscore their opponent once again.  Here are my 5 Thoughts on the loss.

1 – Early matinee game with a wacky start.

The Chicago Blackhawks came out strong to start the game with impressive puck possession.  They did everything with the puck but bury it in the back of the Dallas Stars‘ net.

And then, madcap hockey set in.  In a weird series of events,

Slater Koekkoek

lost a skate blade in the Stars zone after getting leveled by

Radek Faksa

, a fight broke out between

John Hayden

and

Jason Dickenson

, and Faksa ended up blowing past

Erik Gustafsson

to score on a breakaway. In the ensuing video, it’s hard to digest everything that’s happening all at once.

This was the beginning of a wild momentum swing, as the Stars controlled the rest of the period with scoring chances.

We’ll go with the obvious pun here and say that the first period was koo-koo.  But this is what to expect from a team that does not play consistent fundamental hockey.

2 – The ‘Hawks still find ways to fight back.

With a lack of sound team defense, the ‘Hawks continually find themselves forced to simply outscore their opponents.  In their last 7 games, the Chicago Blackhawks have surrendered 33 goals, for a 4.7 per game average.  At the same time, the ‘Hawks have scored 29 goals, for an average of 4.1 goals per game.  This is not the formula for success.

The ‘Hawks once again managed to claw their way back into the game against the Stars after falling behind 3-0.  Goals by Chris Kunitz, Drake Caggiula, and Jonathan Toews gave ‘Hawks a fighting chance to eke out a victory. The forward lines and power play have been creating offensive chances and have placed the team 11th in NHL scoring.

But just as events transpired against the Colorado Avalanche on Friday night, the ‘Hawks went up against a good goalie in Anton Khudobin. Khudobin made 44 saves on 47 shots for a .936 save percentage.  In a double-minor power play at the end of the game, Khudobin was the difference as he fought off the ‘Hawks potent attack.

If the ‘Hawks aren’t winning games, they are at least very entertaining this year with their potent offense.

3 – The PK is killing the team, not penalties.

A significant defect with the team is its penalty killing.  The team sits dead last in the NHL with a 73.5 percent efficiency rate.  Sunday’s game added to their miserable status as they killed off 1 of 2 penalties for a 50 percent rate.  Much of the problem is due to a lack of size and physicality.  Their failure to win board battles and separate the man from the puck has been an ongoing problem.  The second problem is with the team’s inability to block shots.

The Stars’ game-winning goal came on a 5-on-3 power play almost midway through the third period.  While it could be argued that Slater Koekkoek was tripped/interfered with, the Chicago Blackhawks got themselves into the 2-man disadvantage because they had trouble defending the single man disadvantage.  Their breakdowns cost them the game.  The penalty kill will be a project for the coaching staff to correct through the remainder of the season.

4 – Patrick Kane’s scoring streak comes to an end.

Patrick Kane

‘s 20-game scoring streak came to an end as Khudobin played a solid game in net.  During a Blackhawks power play, Khudobin made an excellent save to deny

Alex DeBrincat

after a nifty feed from Kane.  This could have extended Kane’s streak to 21 games.

While Kane was held off the scoresheet, his play was exceptional.  In 25:50 of ice time, he rattled off 7 shots on goal while creating chances for his linemates and on the power play.  It’s a pleasure to witness his elite offensive play as he makes a case for Hart Trophy consideration.

5 – The ‘Hawks are sinking in the West.

The team’s recent surge of victories gave many the hope of them making the playoffs.  With this loss to the Stars, the Chicago Blackhawks are now 4 points behind the Avalanche for the 2nd wild-card playoff spot.  The Avalanche also hold 1 game in hand on the ‘Hawks.  With 19 games remaining in the regular season, it’s difficult to imagine the ‘Hawks overcoming the point deficit to sneak into a wild-card spot.  The team’s last two losses were coincidentally at the hands of the two teams currently holding those two wild-card spots, in the Av’s and the Stars.

Next. 'Hawks demote Jokiharju, pleased with progress. dark

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This is significant in that the NHL trade deadline is this Tuesday, February 25 at 3:00 pm EST. With the ‘Hawks losing these last 2 crucial games, all eyes will be on general manager Stan Bowman.  Will he be willing to sell at the deadline with his team fading out of contention?  Our Juliana Nikac answered questions about this in her recent mailbag article.  I’m hoping for a deal that will net a big, mobile defenseman for the future.  We shall see what we shall see.  Onward.

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