5 Lessons Learned + STL Primer
The loss last night, well "it hurt" according to Coach Q.
It was a game where, yes, the Hawks gave up some prime scoring chances (19 high danger scoring chances according to Natural Stat Trick), but overall the Blackhawks didn't play terribly.
There were actually some positives with Debincat netting 2 goals, Dominik Kahun scoring his 1st ever career goal and the PP converting its first tally of the year.
However, giving up a goal… a short-handed goal nonetheless, to Ryan Suter with :23 left in the game, that a tough one to swallow.
As difficult as this loss was, I believe there were some lessons learned by the Hawks players, coaching staff and new observations from the Blackhawks' faithful.
Here are my top 5:
1) Cam Ward can goalie a little bit – People have been ragging on Ward since his arrival (and rightfully so when you look at his stats) but the fact is, he played well last night. He came up with huge saves and had 42 saves. He's also "helped" the Hawks to 6 out of 8 possible points. Last night was his most solid performance. He will be a solid backup here soon. C'mon back Corey!
2) Dominik Kahun is going to be just fine – While I'd like to have him on the 3rd line on a really good team, he's gelling nicely with Toews and Debrincat. His snipe last night was a legit NHL shot. Couple that with his speed and hockey instincts, this kid is a keeper. He's not going to be a game-breaker, but a nice depth scorer on this team that is in desperate need of those.
3) That Powerplay… woof – Sure, they scored a goal, but the kicker was the SHG they gave up to blow the lead with under 30 seconds to go in the game. This powerplay is a disaster and it needs to be fixed. The Hawks have elite talent and one of the best players to enter an offensive zone in the entire league in Kane, so there should be no problem getting in and setting up.
4) Fortin… he fast – Alex Fortin only played 8:49 (the least amount of Hawks forwards) and his stat line wasn't amazing, but his speed and forechecking was noticeable. It was so noticeable actually the Coach Q moved him up to the 2nd line with Schmaltz and Kane today at practice.
5) Duncan Keith's 1,000 game – Sure, Keith could have played that game-tying better but let's stop to reflect all he's giving the Hawks over 1,000 games (which he will celebrate on Saturday). He's won 2 Norris Trophies and has been a staple as the Hawks leader from the back end for the last decade.
Let's put that game behind us and look forward to the St. Louis Blues, the Hawks opponent on Saturday.
There were some interesting developments at practice today with Q demoting Saad, promoting Fortin (I told you he is a Q favourite) and inserting Brandon Davidson.
The lineup for tomorrow will be led onto the ice by Cam Ward and the rest appears to be:
Speaking of that woeful PP, here are the new units:
PP1: Fortin, Schmaltz, Kane; Gustafsson, Seabrook
PP2: DeBrincat-Kahun, Toews; Keith, Jokiharju
Thoughts on that?
It looks to be a real kick in the pants for Brandon Saad. The guy just flat out needs to produce. He's not Artemi Panarin. No one is expecting him to be. However, the Hawks NEED him to be a regular contributor to the top 6.
Also, it looks like Corey Crawford maaaaay be back for the October 18th game… and maybe not as per Quenneville:
"If it's Thursday, it's Thursday. Or if it's around there, it's around there. It's a date we threw there and if it all goes well, in a perfect world, that could be the day."
Below, we have the early season fight cards:
Blackhawks: 2-0-2 (6 points)
18 GF = 3rd
18 GA = 27th
6.7% PP = 25th
69.2 PK% = 27th
48.6 FO% = 22nd
Who we got tonight: St. Louis Blues
Season Matchup in 2018-19
Chicago – W (5-4)
St. Louis Blues: 1-1-1 (3 points)
10 GF = 28th
13 GA = 24th
25% PP = 11th
90.0 PK% = 7th
53.5 FO% = 5th
JL's player to watch: Ryan O'Reilly murdered the Hawks last game at the dot and is 65.6%. Jonathan Toews will be a good matchup though for him as he's won the most draws in the NHL at 61 total wins in 4 games.
See ya out there,