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Chicago Blackhawks: Three keys to victory against the Florida Panthers

Patrick Kane #88, Chicago Blackhawks Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Patrick Kane #88, Chicago Blackhawks Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Chicago Blackhawks are coming off a tough two-game road trip with the defending Stanley Cup Champions, Tampa Bay Lightning, while the Florida Panthers have yet to play due to postponed games with the Dallas Stars. Without having footage of the 2021 Panthers, the Blackhawks will have to focus on their own game to make adjustments and improve their play.

Finding three keys to victory isn’t hard right now as nearly every aspect of the Chicago Blackhawks gameplay must be improved. There is no need to pile on the goalies here; everyone knows they will need to improve for the ‘Hawks to have a chance to win. The keys to victory, then, must happen in front of the netminder.

First, Alex DeBrincat and Patrick Kane must get more five-on-five shots on goal.

On Friday, both DeBrincat and Kane tallied one shot on goal. Yes, they both scored, but their offensive production must improve. During the game, their line, with Pius Suter at center, racked up an abysmal Corsi of 40%. For the Blackhawks to win, these two can’t spend most of their time in the D zone. Coach Jeremy Colliton will have to get creative with this line and get them on the ice against better matchups.

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Second, the Blackhawks must get better in their defensive zone.

In the first two games, the defense has frequently been caught standing around, leaving the goalie vulnerable. Chicago must do a better job of pressuring the player with the puck. Brayden Point, Anthony Cirelli, and others seemed to have free reign in the Blackhawks D-Zone.

Once the puck is covered, the second defenseman must have a better awareness of the other attackers in the zone so they can play the player and the pass- far too much watching. Finally, once Chicago gains puck possession, the defenseman must do a better job advancing the puck. Far too many turnovers in the D-zone that ultimately ended up in the back of the net.

Finally, Chicago must be more intentional through the neutral zone.

The team looks confused as to whether their identity is a chip and chase squad or a team who is going to carry the puck in. The loss of Captain Jonathan Toews, Kirby Dach, and former winger Brandon Saad will definitely be felt when it comes to digging pucks out in the corners and behind the net.

Couple that with lines like Kane, DeBrincat, and Suter, chip and chase will not be an option. This team is going to have to learn to exit the D-Zone quickly and sharpen their passes tape to tape to get through the neutral zone quickly. If they can’t do this, they will continue to scramble in their own end.

"Who starts next in goal for the Chicago Blackhawks?"

Although it looks dire for the Blackhawks right now, fans can feel good that a few simple changes can make a huge difference and Pius Suter and Ian Mitchell look like they could be the real deal. Hang in there and watch with an eye to the future.

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