Analysis

Three Takeaways from the Blackhawks’ 5-4 Loss to Panthers

Jeremy Colliton, Chicago Blackhawks (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jeremy Colliton, Chicago Blackhawks (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /
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The Blackhawks’ comeback comes up short in a 5-4 loss to the Florida Panthers

The Chicago Blackhawks displayed a relentless, desperate effort to play with the Panthers on their heels for the last ten minutes or so. The Blackhawks’ late second-period goal, then two early goals in the third marked their demise, but their fight to get back into the game was respectable.

However, it has to be said that if they didn’t allow the odd-man rush against with 6.8 seconds left that gave the Panthers the lead, things may have been different. They would not have to play with such intensity in the last three minutes if they played well the entire game.

Powerplay Success

The Blackhawks’ faceoff success has brought back some success on the powerplay. Adam Gaudette won a faceoff that Connor Murphy took advantage of and scored on the play. They would then find themselves with another chance to score on the PP and Kirby Dach would find the back of the net with a beautiful display of hand-eye coordination. The Blackhawks went 2-4 in this game with the man advantage and can build off of their success in this aspect of their game as the season ends.

The Comeback “Kids” at it Again

The Blackhawks now have the identity of being able to bring games back. On Thursday, the Blackhawks tied the game with mere seconds left to go against the Panthers. They won a game in overtime from a 4-1 deficit to the Nashville Predators not too long ago. See, the Nashville game could have been seen as a fluke by some people, but, now that they have done this on numerous occasions, it is something to watch as they end the season.

Kirby Dach displayed great hands by batting in a PPG a couple feet away from the goaltender to start the comeback. Patrick Kane then added to the comeback with an amazing pass to Dominik Kubalik who would bring the ‘Hawks within one goal. This team has the ability to score in bunches, and they had many chances to continue that trend.

This team has relentlessness, but it is unfortunate that the best play the Blackhawks have comes from a deficit. It is important to say that it is great to know that this team is able to bring a game back from behind. However, it is that much more important to play in a manner that doesn’t need such a desperate bounce back to find success.

They did not tie the game this time, but they were very close.

Defensive Play, Turnovers, and Goaltending

The Blackhawks lost this game with sloppy play in their own zone within a couple minutes. The Blackhawks attempted a cycle play for a breakout pass, only to find the pass taken by Sam Bennett behind the net and a puck in their net seconds later. They were aggressive, but they allowed too many odd-man chances against them.

Honestly, it’s up to Sheldon Brookbank to teach these guys how to defend, but he hasn’t been up to the task. The coaching staff has their own focus, and Brookbank’s focus is the only one that is really struggling: Defense. The defense has trouble handling the puck in high-pressure situations which leads to giveaways. Brookbank has to change this or move aside. A good coach can bring the best out of this team, the young guys have gotten better on offense with Colliton and Mitell, but Brookbank’s defense has been at a standstill since the start of the season.

Kevin Lankinen had to be thinking “I don’t get paid enough for this” in this game. The Blackhawks forced him to make multiple difficult saves, and their lazy play to start the third ended up losing them, and him, the game. His play was great and he deserved a better result than what he was given. There were 39 scoring chances against the Blackhawks in this game, and this cannot continue.

The Blackhawks are young, and, as Connor Murphy said in his press conference, it is a process but the odd-man chances have to end. The team needs to understand the situation and respond accordingly. The way they defended in this game cannot be the norm.

To Conclude…

This team is capable of coming back, but the way they play the game in “comeback mode” has to be their norm. They need to play each minute as if they are behind instead of tied or in the lead. A desperate ‘Hawks team is a dangerous ‘Hawks team. The Blackhawks generated a lot of chances but they were sloppy with the puck in their own zone.

They were slow to defend the rush, and Kevin Lankinen is understandably frustrated by this point. He kept the team in the game as long as he could, and the Blackhawks’ sloppiness with the puck lost them the game.

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The Blackhawks need to play as a desperate team in every game as they were in the last minutes of this one. They need to watch their turnovers and be careful with their plays. The Blackhawks have a ton of potential here, and they need to finish the season well to build off of for next season.

Next game: May 3, @ Hurricanes, 6:00 PM, NBCS Chicago

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