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Analysis

Blackhawks vs Devils: Three Takeaways from the OT loss

Kevin Lankinen #32, Chicago Blackhawks Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
Kevin Lankinen #32, Chicago Blackhawks Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
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Leading up to Wednesday night, a lot of questions were swirling around the new season. Playing the Western Conference favorites didn’t help answer any questions definitively. Early in that one, Chicago was outplayed and out-skated, falling behind three goals quickly. Chicago managed to climb back into the tilt ultimately winning the final 50 minutes 2-1.

Toews is back and improving every game. Dach is back and looks like he did prior to a wrist injury. The Hawks won the faceoff battle for once. The team fought the entire game against a superior foe. However, the defense still struggles with assignment and position; the Avalanche dominated scoring chances by a wide margin 33-15 in 5v5 play.

Friday’s lineup: Noticeable changes = Gaudette in for Carpenter, Gustafsson in for Mitchell, and Lankinen in for Fleury

DeBrincat-Johnson-Kane

Kubalik-Toews-Kurashev

Borgstrom-Dach-Hagel

Khaira-Entwistle-Gaudette

de Haan-S. Jones

McCabe-Murphy

Stillman-Gustafsson

Lankinen

Did the changes make a difference and did the Blackhawks learn from game 1. Not really.

Chicago drops another one, falling short after an amazing comeback- this time 4-3 in overtime. The Blackhawks start the season 0-1-1.

Three Takeaways from yesterday’s loss.

Poor Starts:

According to Led Zeppelin, the Song Remains the Same and the Hawks would concur. On Wednesday, Chicago gave up three goals in the first ten minutes. Yesterday, the Hawks gave up one 17 seconds into the game. In the opening moments, the Hawks’ opponents looked focused while the Hawks D scrambled, chasing the puck. And, the same as Wednesday, Chicago settled down to play even hockey, but the damage was done again- fighting from behind. This team is still trying to find its identity; getting behind early won’t help. The Natural Stat Trick Heat Map shows the disparity in shots- notice the clustering of shot for the Devils:

Penalty Kill:

What was a serious deficiency last year continues to be a strength this year. On Wednesday, the Blackhawks held the Avalanche to zero goals on four attempts. Yesterday, the Hawks held the Devils to zero goals on two attempts. Chicago is making it difficult for the opposing team to set up, and even more difficult to get clean shots. Interestingly, the Hawks have been using Alex DeBrincat on the kill. He is small, but does not shy from board work and offers great hands to turn the kill into a short-handed chance.

McCabe and Murphy Struggle:

Conor Murphy is a sound defenseman and arguably the Hawks’ best behind Seth Jones. Jake McCabe came over to the Hawks as a solid D-man who is very physical. As the pairings go, this was the one no one worried about, against the Devils, these two struggled. McCabe had a +/- of -2, and he turned the puck over two times in the defensive zone leading to a goal and another that had to be saved by Kevin Lankinen. Murphy had a +/- of -3 and a Corsi of 40%. There was a lot of blame to go around, but it needs to end with the veterans. McCabe and Murphy need to be better for the Hawks to excel.

The Blackhawks play the Penguins tonight to try to pick up their first win.

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