The Chicago Blackhawks lost 3-1 to the Philadelphia Flyers at home Thursday night, giving up two crucial points for their playoff push.
The Chicago Blackhawks were so close to being two points behind the Arizona Coyotes and Colorado Avalanche for the second wildcard spot with a game in hand. Now, they’re four points out, still with a game in hand. Here are five thoughts on their outing against the Flyers:
5. Offense Couldn’t Break Through Hart
Although putting in a 41 shot effort, the Chicago Blackhawks offense just couldn’t get past Flyers goaltender Carter Hart. The offense was piling on shots in the last 40 minutes of the game, where they outshot the Flyers 27-12. The only player to break through was defenseman Erik Gustafsson, who scored his team-leading 15th defensive goal of the year, all thanks to a screen by Jonathan Toews.
On a night where offense was needed the most, the Blackhawks just couldn’t find it in their Hart to find the back of the net.
See what I did there?
4. Keith and Gustafsson…YIKES
The defensive pairing between Duncan Keith and Gustafsson have been conflicting lately. Some shifts they look great, others not so great. Against the Flyers, it was a hit or miss. In the first period, they helped the Blackhawks get on board early, but they were found flat-footed as the game progressed. At the end of the night, they were both a -2 sharing nearly 23-minutes of ice-time each, the most of any defensive pairing.
I don’t know about you, but if you’re playing big minutes as the top defensive pairing, you better lock it down, especially if you’re fighting for a playoff position.
3. Body Positioning Leads To Blackhawks Doom
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They’re called the “Broadstreet Bullies” for a reason.
The Chicago Blackhawks weren’t outmatched in talent necessarily, but the Flyers used their body to a crucial advantage in this matchup. It’s not like they were staple-gunning players into the boards to cause turnovers, but their net-front presence and zone-entries were the reason they won this game.
Corban Knight and James van Riemsdyk‘s two goals were scored because of bodies either in front of the net, or their use of the body entering the offensive zone. For example, Radko Gudas taking out a player at the top of the dot allowed room for Knight to gain access to the slot and rifle home the game-tying goal.
On your toes, gentleman. Not your heels.
2. Sean Couturier Was Lights Out
I’m not one to praise opposing players, but Sean Couturier was the best player on the ice, hands down. With playoff hopes of their own on the line, the Flyers veteran was dominant in leading his team to victory.
Couturier had a goal and an assist, as well as a 60% face-off success rate in the game. He played 22:06 of TOI, the most of any offensive player on the Flyers. He played as if he had the Blackhawks game-plan mapped out on the back of his hand. If he weren’t there, this game would’ve been a whole lot easier.
1. Onto The Next
The Blackhawks are four points out of the second wildcard spot, sitting right behind the Arizona Coyotes and Colorado Avalanche, who are tied with one another at 78 points. To add to the fun, the Blackhawks play back-to-back games against the Avalanche this weekend, splitting a home-and-home.
Believe it or not, with nine games left on the season and a game in hand of both the Avs and Yotes, these are must-win games. Take four points this weekend, and you have a chance to hold that second wildcard spot.
Let’s hope they can get it done.