A classic Blackhawks vs Blues game shows how much more work the Blackhawks have to do.
Let’s start with this: The Blackhawks finally have a faceoff percentage of above 60%, managed to keep up with the Blues in the hits department, didn’t give away the puck with only 4 giveaways, and had 12 takeaways in the game. Statistically, the Blackhawks beat the Blues everywhere except the most important stats: SOG, and Goals for.
As it is always said, the preseason is very different than training camp. With that said, when a roster is hailed as the “Big Time” roster, I expected a bit more. Here are my three takeaways from last night:
- Old habits don’t die
- Seth Jones…
- Lost Roster Spots?
1. Old Habits Don’t Die
The Blackhawks once again stumble in the third period. In the two games they played, they gave up 25-17 in SOG, with the Blues owning 16 of those to the Blackhawks’ 7. This brings back bad memories from last season where one bad period cost the Blackhawks the game, and in both games so far, it has been the third.
The Blackhawks usually took off the early period last season and turned it on in the third. It was either they were on point at the start or at the end, there was no consistency. This season may have more of the same, despite the experienced guys they brought in to help them. Many points were lost due to the Blackhawks lack of motivation, or lack of killer instinct. This is the preseason, yes, but it’s important to remember what happened last season and why it’s worrisome to still see the same tendencies.
The Blackhawks also still wait too long before shooting the puck, waiting for that perfect play. That’s another thing that has to stop, along with the defenseman being to aggressive on the rush, allowing a high-risk chance against. On the bright side, they actually hit people this game and stood up for each other for once. That was encouraging.
2. Seth Jones…
Seth Jones really has to pick up his play. He is not a responsible defender, way to quick to join the rush instead of anticipating a potential play if the break out pass doesn’t work. He left Jake McCabe alone, and his brother Caleb, for many odd-man chances against due to his aggressiveness. There is a time to pinch and join the play and that is when your team has sole possession of the puck. Seth’s aggressiveness cost the Blackhawks many times, and ended with a -3 rating. Let’s hope he was limit testing tonight and that this doesn’t become a constant.
For example, let’s look at the Robert Thomas goal. Seth made a pass to Alex Debrincat, who passed to Patrick Kane on the breakout play. Kane would take the puck up the ice and Seth would join the rush, but he didn’t work hard enough to get back and defend. As a defenseman, you’re supposed to worry more about defense than offense. There are many games left to go, and Seth has to become more established in this system before the season begins. With that said, his debut was one no one wants to remember.
3. Lost Roster Spots?
The prospects were very noticeable this game, with two fights by Reese Johnson and Dimitry Osipov and a solid outing by Caleb Jones and Nolan Allan. That’s not a good sign for guys on the outside-looking-in such as Alex Nylander and Dylan Strome. Both of them are skill guys, but neither were able to carry the play with their skill, nor were they able to make an impact physically. As the Blackhawks look to have younger and more impactful guys on the roster this season, these two could see themselves on the way out.
The preseason is used as a way to see who has what it takes to play in the NHL, and who does not. Based on the last two preseason games, Nylander does not. He was invisible most of the time, never a threat to the opposition. He should spend time in Rockford or get traded this season. Strome has a better chance, but he was invisible last night as well.
This is still the preseason, and a lot can change from now to October 13th. With that said, it isn’t encouraging to see the same tendencies that lost the Blackhawks games last season still embedded in the players brains. It also doesn’t help to see your claimed “top defenseman” act more like a forward than get paid 9.5 million to defend. And, finally, some roster spots may have already been lost in Alex Nylander and potentially Dylan Strome. The young guys look hungrier than they do, and play an impactful game when they are not scoring.
The Blackhawks have a lot of work to do, and don’t have time to think too much about it. This was a preseason game, yes, but this was also one with most of their starters on the roster.
Next game: @Blues, 7 pm. No listed T.V. broadcast via NHL.com