After Saturday’s 5-3 loss to the Minnesota Wild, Chicago sits at sixth place in the Western Division–quite the fall from glory.
The Blackhawks can’t seem to find a rhythm so far. They’ve been unable to hold two and three goal leads. For the last two games they’ve given up five or more goals.
“We had breakdowns, we had turnovers inside our zone, we had miscommunication and took some penalties we shouldn’t have taken. I think one thing relates to the other and it’s just a little bit sloppy sometimes,” Blackhawks Captain Jonathan Toews said. “We’ve got to tighten that up and get back to playing a solid checking game that we know how to play. Our talent and ability is going to take over when the work ethic is there. It’s a frustrating loss to lose like that at home.”
Fortunately, Monday, they have another chance against the Wild on the road. Hopefully they’ll take some lessons from the last couple losses and some recent lackluster performances.
Some things fans (and likely the teams) would like to see more of:
- Shots. Get the puck on net. There are no flair points in the NHL. Shoot, shoot, shoot. It doesn’t matter who the goalie is, with enough shots, eventually some pucks will slip by him. Patrick Sharp is trying. He’s in the top 15 of the league with 45 shots on goal this season, but he’s only managed to score once. Bryan Bickell has scored four in four games after a slow start. They haven’t all been pretty, but he’s been shooting.
- Power Play POWER. This has been problematic for the past few seasons. They managed to get by in spite of a poor Power Play showing last year. But with an inability to maintain leads this year, they need to capitalize on every advantage. Saturday’s Power Play was one for seven.
- Penalty Killing. Last in the league?! Again, last year, the Hawks could score goals down a man. The Wild Saturday scored five seconds into their Power Play. They Blackhawks have allowed two that early into the Penalty Kill. Three others came less than 36 into the PK. Now they can’t win faceoffs, they can’t get control of the puck, and they aren’t giving their goalie any help.
- Not getting bad penalties to begin with… Toews has served 12 penalty minutes this season. Marian Hossa, another successful penalty killer, has served plenty of time in the box as well. He had two penalties Satuday. And many of the team’s shorthanded minutes are the result of lazy plays–hooks, high sticks, trips. They need to play smarter and with more speed.
“They called a lot of penalties tonight. Some were lack of discipline,” Coach Joel Quenneville said Saturday. “We took some careless ones tonight that led to them being on the power play and getting some momentum back in the game.”
- Star Power. Patrick Kane has scored six goals so far this season, but is currently a -9, the lowest on the team. The team’s captain is racking penalty minutes and losing faceoffs.
- Chemistry. They need to get in the swing of things. The Hawks are missing passes, not seeing each other, and looking sloppy.All that said, this isn’t a 48-game season. There’s time to get it together.