Three Takeaways from the Blackhawks’ Loss to Nashville

Kevin Lankinen #32, Chicago Blackhawks Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
Kevin Lankinen #32, Chicago Blackhawks Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports /

The Blackhawks just didn’t show up last night, losing 3-1 to the Nashville Predators.

The Chicago Blackhawks did not show up to play last night. They were sloppy with the puck, didn’t compete for most of the night. Kevin Lankinen did his best, but every goal the Predators scored on him came from defensive mistakes. The Blackhawks are a much better team than they were tonight, and they need to find their form because these points against the Predators are going to be huge towards their playoff chances.

Kirby Dach made his debut much earlier than expected, and he played a great game. This is his first game back, mid-way throughout the season so I didn’t expect to see him light up the opposition. He did a great job with the time he had on ice, and should only get better moving forward.

Puck Management and SHOOT THE PUCK!!!

The Chicago Blackhawks were awful in this category last night, pretty much giving the Predators chances on a silver platter. David Kampf attempted a half-rink stretch pass right down the middle, which didn’t connect and the Predators kept it in for an easy, open shot on goal.

They were also penned into their own zone most of the night which is not a recipe for success, especially for this team. The Blackhawks gave the puck over way too many times tonight, and they can’t hope to make the playoffs if lazy plays like this continues.

The Chicago Blackhawks have been WAY too passive with their SOG. We all saw how the Blackhawks can capitalize on a second-chance opportunity, with Alex Debrincat shooting on Sergei Bobrovsky against Florida, leading to a Pius Suter second-chance goal. Same with Suter once again from a Patrick Kane snapshot, he followed up the shot and scored on another second-chance opportunity. Put the puck on net, and good things will happen.

Defensive Coverage

Almost all of the Predators’ goals were based on poor defensive coverage, starting with the first goal. The front of the net was wide open, and the Predators took advantage of it, and the third goal was again a misplay by the defense, leading to an easy tap-in goal against. This has to change and this doesn’t look to be the norm, either.

The Blackhawks on Thursday night looks to be their A-game: fast and relentless, with occasional giant hits to shift the momentum. They were able to get in front of shots and were very sound defensively. They have to get back to that stage of their game on the second game of the back-to-back.

Poor Early Game Leads to Loss

The Blackhawks turned it on in the last half of the third period, but they should have started much earlier. They started playing fast and relentlessly in the last ten minutes or so in the game, but by then it was really too late.

A complete effort has to be the norm for this team, not just here and there. With the emergence of the Predators, and the fact they are not too far behind in the standings anymore, beating this team will be key to the Blackhawks’ playoff chances.

This was not the same Blackhawks team we saw play just two nights ago. The Predators were all over the Blackhawks tonight, but the Blackhawks pushed back… Just a bit too late to change the outcome. They finished with a 15-4 SOG third period, and this is what this team should be able to do against the Predators on a consistent basis, not just ten minutes. Regardless if they are ahead by three or down by three, playing the Panthers or playing the Red Wings, this team has to play the same way.

To conclude…

The Blackhawks lost the game due to their lack of puck management, lack of defensive coverage, and lack of effort. This team has the potential to beat any team in the league, they just take too many nights off.

They defeated the Florida Panthers twice, defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning once, and the Carolina Hurricanes a couple times. These three are among the top in the league, and this would not change if they were in their respective divisions.

They have to make the smart decisions with the puck, shoot whenever possible, and play with energy and relentlessness to earn the win. I would like to see them activate their 2-1-2 forecheck to put pressure on the Predator’s defense as well. Be smart with the passing plays, check the opposition and frustrate their guys.

The Predators were too comfortable last night, and the Blackhawks have to change that. The way they played in the last ten minutes of the third period is the team I expect to see to start the game tonight on the second game of the back-to-back.

The Blackhawks play again tonight at 7 PM.