The Blackhawks lose yet another game, and are booed off the ice for the second game straight.
The Blackhawks need to right this ship fast. Not only are they losing games in a dominant fashion, but they are losing their fans’ support at a rapid pace. This league is all about putting a spectacle on for the fans, as that is how they get revenue, and that is how players and coaches get their momentum. The United Center was always known for the ruckus they would create and the noise in the arena. Those days seem to be far gone now as the Blackhawks could have heard a pin drop last night.
Here are my three takeaways:
1. Even-Strength Woes Again
The Blackhawks have to come up with some way to establish offense at even-strength. Their special teams rank among the best in the league right now, thanks to Marc Crawford, but their play, in general, is tanking the team. When you have Jujhar Khaira on the first line with Jonathan Toews, something is wrong in your head. Seriously. This guy is not a good offensive player and he didn’t cause anything in the crease last night.
Dylan Strome may have to find his way back with Alex Debrincat and Patrick Kane in a desperate move pretty soon. This team cannot fall to 0-5-1 and need a massive spark. Could a call-up from the AHL help them a bit? I think so. Bringing up young guys who play straight ahead and placing them on the fourth line could bring a needed spark to a dull roster.
Potential lines in my opinion:
Debrincat – Strome – Kane
Kubalik – Toews – Gaudette
Borgstrom – Dach – Hagel
Reese Johnson – Tyler Johnson – Carpenter
It doesn’t seem like this team is failing at creating chances, they are just horrible at finishing them. In this game alone, they could have scored at least three goals on even-strength if ONE thing went better for them. For example, Dylan Strome could have tipped Debrincat’s pass into the net for the lead, but the pass was way too hard.
2. Seth Jones Needs to do More
Seth Jones… This trade has looked bad before the season started but now that we see what he can offer this trade looks even worse. He is at a -4 on the ice as of now, and he doesn’t look to be creating anything offensively, either. When you get paid 9.5 million dollars, you HAVE to be an impact-type of guy who can win games for your team or at least be depended on to play… well. Jones has not shown any sign of returning to his elite form and this is a major concern as he will be in the lineup for the next 8 years.
Also… Why is Eric Gustafsson still in the lineup? Switch him out with Jakob Galvas or Ian Mitchell instead. He played just under 13 minutes last night, and he missed a chance to create a potential game-tying goal in the second period.
3. Special Teams
Special teams are still going well, with a 25% PP rate and a 75% PK rate. Systems look sharp and bring momentum to the team. Even with a great powerplay and penalty kill, if your even-strength play doesn’t pick up, this team won’t be going anywhere.
Special Mention: Coaching
How is Sheldon Brookbank still hired? His defense is horrible, just as it was last season. Jeremy Colliton and Tomas Mitell have established some form of offensive system, but it has failed to succeed this far. Marc Crawford is the MVP at the moment, creating a special teams unit that can carry this team past getting shut-out every game.
This Blackhawks team needs a lot of work. You cannot just wait for results to happen and play the same way, you have to tweak something to make it work. The saying goes “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it” but this system is broken, hence the need to be fixed. Despite being much better with the puck this season and adding some form of physicality, the offense has dwindled down to almost nothing (literally, 3 goals in 5 games at 5 v 5). Again, this team needs a lot of work or they will get to look forward to getting booed off the ice by ~1,500 fans by game 24.