The Chicago Blackhawks blue line is wounded.
Seth Jones did not make the recent road trip after suffering an upper-body injury against the Washington Capitals. Rookie Kevin Korchinski is out for an unknown period as he is addressing a family issue. Jared Tinordi is back on injured reserve with a concussion.
You can hate Jones' contract, but he has been the team's best defenseman with his contribution on both sides. Korchinski is showing the potential of being Duncan Keith-like on the next great Hawks team.
Going without Jones and Korchinski is also going to impact the power play. Both are good at quarterbacking it. Now that they are out, the Blackhawks have to rely on guys like Nikita Zaitsev to take on that role. Zaitsev has spent more time being a healthy scratch than running the point on the power play.
It also means the Hawks are missing two of their three most productive defensemen. Jones leads the time in ice time with Korchinski coming in at third. It also means the blue line resembles more of what you would expect to see in Rockford.
The Blackhawks already have a razor-thin margin for error with their lack of scoring firepower. Missing Jones, Korchinski, and a veteran like Tinordi means that margin is nil.
Alex Vlasic has stepped up and is having a great first full season in the NHL. The problem is Wyatt Kaiser struggled to the point he had to be demoted to the Ice Hogs. Connor Murphy has been having a down season so far. It is not ideal to have a veteran struggling especially with the lack of experience the Hawks have to put out on the ice.
The lack of experience on defense means winning becomes even harder than it already is.
Head coach Luke Richardson had to put out a defensive group that included four players with a combined 98 NHL games to face the Edmonton Oilers.
The result was an easy three-goal victory for the Oilers. The Hawks do get to face the Seattle Kraken next. They do not exactly light the lamp like the Oilers do, but Richardson is going to have to put out the same inexperienced group.
The lack of experience and having to use a player like Filip Roos, who is nothing more than an organizational depth piece at defense, means Petr Mrazek and Arvid Soderblom are going to have to stand on their heads to help the Hawks pick up two points.
It does not help that the Hawks are struggling to score goals outside of Connor Bedard.
The second line has produced nothing lately. Taylor Raddysh is playing so poorly that a healthy scratch should be considered to him going.
Thankfully the third line has been producing. Jason Dickinson has been outstanding this season. When that line comes up with goals, the Blackhawks have a good chance of winning. That should not be the case. The top two lines should be producing points and the third and fourth lines should provide support.
The Hawks are still in the middle of a massive rebuild so losing is going to happen. Being down three defensemen means winning just became more difficult than it already was.