The Chicago Blackhawks did play a decent game at even-strength, but their special teams units dropped the ball.
The Chicago Blackhawks looked pretty good, until Nikita Zadorov forgot that he was 6’6″ and keeping his arms up hitting 5’10” Nick Cousins. He received an elbowing call and the Predators scored on the following powerplay. There was nothing Kevin Lankinen could do on the following howitzer from Eeli Tolvanen and the Blackhawks were down 1-0. They would then give up a rare SHG on a penalty shot, unable to find a good way to enter the zone.
Their even strength play was good, despite those two long shifts in their own zone, one of them by the Predators’ fourth line. The Blackhawks got their chances, but would either miss the net or pass the puck when they should have shot.
Going on the Powerplay Doesn’t Look Like an Advantage
The Chicago Blackhawks’ powerplay unit was the only bright spot to start the season. Now? It’s the worst aspect of their game. They cannot find a good way to enter the zone, with a passing play into the zone getting stymied at the blueline, then the drop-pass doesn’t work since the opponent’s PK unit swarms the puck carrier immediately.
Once they get into the zone, the Blackhawks do generate quite a few chances for and some quality SOG. They have one-timer threats on both units in Alex Debrincat and Dominik Kubalik, playmakers on both units such as Patrick Kane and Philipp Kurashev, and generate offensive pressure with passing plays on most of their possessions. Sometimes they make lazy passes and the penalty kill unit goes down the ice for a scoring chance.
The powerplay did not generate anything, but, via Charlie Roumeliotis, the Blackhawks allowed at some point:
- Three shot attempts
- Two SOG
- Two scoring chances
- Two high-danger scoring chances
- 1 SHG, Penalty Shot
The Blackhawks generated:
- One SOG… Congrats.
The powerplay needs to move a lot more than they have done as of late, but their main issues here are their zone entry and their faceoffs. Winning faceoffs will lead to good things on the man advantage, but the Blackhawks were not able to win any of them. They need to be smarter in the zone as well and take better care of the puck as well. The powerplay just wasn’t good, and as a result went 0-4, with a 2 minute, two-man advantage.
Juuse Saros Gives the Blackhawks a Taste of Their Own Medicine
The Chicago Blackhawks lost a game 3-0, despite leading in SOG, shots attempted, and scoring chances. Who else led in those stats in a 3-0 loss? The Florida Panthers in a Kevin Lankinen 41 save shutout win. The Blackhawks had multiple chances to score tonight, but Saros was on his game today earning a, get this, a 41 save shutout.
So was Lank, but his team didn’t do him any favors: Dominik Kubalik turned the puck over on a horrible play, the powerplay unit gave Nashville a penalty shot, and the entire team leaves the slot wide open. He has been standing on his head since he earned the starting role and the Blackhawks need to be better all around to help him.
Now the Blackhawks know how it feels to be on the other end of a game where the opponent’s goaltender is lights out. Maybe they will try to put in an extra effort to be better defensively.
Even Strength Play
The Chicago Blackhawks did pretty well at even strength, leading in every offensive statistic other than, well, scoring goals. They generated their chances, for the most part were smart with the puck, and were able to sustain some pressure in the offensive zone. Unfortunately, the team had no puck luck and their chances either went wide, but they didn’t help themselves by passing when they had an open shooting lane.
I still think the Blackhawks were the better team tonight all around, but Juuse Saros stole the win away from them. This was yet another two points the Blackhawks could not have given up.
The Blackhawks are toast if they can’t beat the Predators. They need to beat them points-wise if they want to make the playoffs as all of their tie-breaking stats don’t help them. Their last few games to end the season will include a three-game series against the Predators before they play another six games against the top teams in the league. They played great at even strength for the most part, but their special teams dropped the ball.
The Blackhawks play the Stars on Tuesday, their third game in four nights. They need to take advantage of the possible fatigue the Stars may have and take two needed points. They also need to go on a win streak coming into their final stretch of games. We can’t expect this team to earn a winning record against the top teams, and the team they haven’t beaten yet.
Next Game: Blackhawks vs Stars – NBC Sports Chicago – 7:00 PM CST