Failed offside challenge has Blackhawks seething: 'One play cost us the whole game'


Failed offside challenge has Blackhawks seething: 'One play cost us the whole game'

Taking another look, asking for the review. The coaches challenge comes with a different twist this season, one that ups the risk if you choose to implement it. Lose it, and you head to the penalty kill.

“You can see how it turns the game around a little bit,” Ryan Hartman said Thursday night. “They install that to make sure you know for sure.”

The Blackhawks were sure this challenge would turn out in their favor. They were sure that Jason Zucker was offside when the puck banked off Brent Seabrook’s skate and into the Blackhawks’ zone and the Minnesota Wild’s second goal, off a 2-on-1 by Chris Stewart, would be wiped out. But the call stood, the goal counted, the penalty was assessed, the Wild added a power-play goal and the game was ultimately lost.

“One play cost us the whole game,” coach Joel Quenneville said following the Blackhawks' 5-2 loss to the Wild.

The NHL situation room released its explanation on the failed challenge, stating:

After reviewing all available replays and consulting with the Linesman, NHL Hockey Operations staff determined that the actions of Chicago's Brent Seabrook caused the puck to enter the attacking zone and the call on the ice was upheld - good goal Minnesota Wild. The decision was made in accordance with Rule 83.1 which states, in part, that "If a player legally carries or passes the puck back into his own defending zone while a player of the opposing team is in such defending zone, the off-side shall be ignored and play permitted to continue."

“He didn’t carry it and didn’t have possession, so I disagree with that rule,” Quenneville said. “We brought [the puck] in, but you have to have control, possession of it.”

It seems that Rule 83.2 would apply more to Thursday’s situation:

Deflections / Rebounds – When a defending player propels the puck out of his defending zone and the puck clearly rebounds off a defending player in the neutral zone back into the defending zone, all attacking players are eligible to play the puck. However, any action by an attacking player that causes a deflection/rebound off a defending player in the neutral zone back into the defending zone (i.e. stick check, body check, physical contact), a delayed off-side shall be signaled by the Linesman. A puck that deflects back into the defending zone off an official who is in the neutral zone will be off-side (or delayed off-side, as appropriate).

Seabrook was just frustrated at himself.

“That was tough. A bouncing puck but it’s on me. I have to do a better job of keeping it at the blue line, or at least making a play and not giving up a 2-on-1 at that point,” Seabrook said. “We just got back with a tie game and just a tough one.”

The Blackhawks were sure they got this one right but it was ruled otherwise. It was one call, but it was one costly call.

The pros and cons of reuniting Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews on Blackhawks top line


The pros and cons of reuniting Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews on Blackhawks top line

Jonathan Toews' offense usually comes in spurts. We're seeing it again right now.

But it's no coincidence his numbers have spiked since Patrick Kane joined him on the top line.

After recording another two points in Saturday's 5-3 loss to the Buffalo Sabres, the Blackhawks captain has 11 points (four goals, seven assists) in his past eight games; he had 11 points in his previous 23 games total.

Toews also reached the 20-goal mark for the 11th straight season, joining Kane and Alex Ovechkin as the only three active players to accomplish that feat to open their NHL careers.

Kane has seen his offensive production pick up, too. He has 16 points (four goals, 12 assists) in his past 13 games after going five straight without one, which was his longest point drought of the season.

When the two of them are on the ice together at even strength, they control 57.9 percent of the shot attempts. It hasn't quite translated on the scoresheet (14 goals for and 17 goals against) maybe the way it should, but they are certainly spending far more time in the offensive zone than the defensive end and are generating a high volume of shots.

So yes, reuniting the dynamic duo has worked stats-wise.

But it comes at a cost:

— Vinnie Hinostroza and Nick Schmaltz haven't scored in six straight contests.

— Alex DeBrincat's season-long goal drought is up to 13 games.

— Artem Anisimov's last even-strength goal came nine games ago.

When you put Kane and Toews together, you risk losing some balance across the lineup and that's why Joel Quenneville has always been reluctant to go to that nuclear option. He prefers when opposing teams are forced to play 'Pick Your Poison.'

Ideally, you'd like to spread out the scoring, but one thing is for certain: The Blackhawks are better when Kane and Toews are each producing offensively, whether they're apart or together. 

When the wins start to dry up though — and they have — that's normally when it's time to try something different.

Perhaps more importantly, the last thing you want are those scoring droughts mentioned above to stretch even further and get inside the younger skaters' heads, then carrying it with them into the offseason.

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Has the championship window closed?


Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Has the championship window closed?

On the latest Hawks Talk Podcast, Jonathan Toews sits down with Pat Boyle for a 1-on-1 interview. Toews weighs in on his season with Brandon Saad, whether he expects major changes this offseason and has the championship window closed?

Also, Adam Burish joins the podcast and plays the game: “Building block, not sure, or no thanks.” Burish runs down the Blackhawks forwards and predicts whether or not they have a future with the team.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below: