Five takeaways from Blackhawks' 3-1 loss to Flyers: Lacking the finish

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' 3-1 loss to Flyers: Lacking the finish

Here are five takeaways from the Blackhawks’ 3-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday night:

1. Unfortunate break leads to first goal but no excuse for quiet start.

Despite a three-day break, the Blackhawks got off to a slow start in the first period and didn't exactly get some luck along the way either. Claude Giroux put the Flyers on the board first when he buried a one-timer from Jakub Voracek, capitalizing on a defensive breakdown, but also taking advantage of an unfortunate break for the Blackhawks.

Patrick Sharp tried passing to Duncan Keith, but the puck hit the official's skate along the boards and fell right into the lap of Voracek, who controlled the puck then fed Giroux a pass that eventually led to the goal.

Still, the Blackhawks didn't come out with a lot of push and it showed. They recorded 18 shot attempts compared to the Flyers' 30 in the opening frame.

2. First-line reunion short-lived.

Joel Quenneville tried rekindling some magic that worked pretty well in the same building back in 2010 by reuniting Sharp, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane on the first line, but it didn't last long.

After a quiet first 20 minutes, Quenneville separated the trio by moving Brandon Saad up to his normal top-line spot at left wing, alongside Toews and Kane to start the second period, and it actually was the team's best line following the change. Saad finished with a game-high 13 shot attempts, eight of which were on goal.

It was his best game in a while. Same with Kane, who registered five shots on goal, and played with a purpose in the third period.

3. Blackhawks have no answer for Flyers top line.

In our Three Things to Watch, we noted how dangerous Philly's Big 3 is and they showed exactly why in this one.

All three of the Flyers' goals came from their first line, and each member found the back of the net: Giroux and Voracek in the first, and Sean Couturier in the second, all coming at even strength. They combined for three goals, four assists, eight shot attempts and six shots on goal.

4. Lacking the finish.

The Blackhawks have statistically been a below average puck possession team this season, but the quantity of shots wasn't an issue against Philadelphia. They had 69 shot attempts (39 on goal) while the Flyers had 52 attempts (31 on goal), and those numbers are even more surprising when you consider Chicago won only 24 of their 73 faceoffs (33 percent).

The quality of the shots wasn't really a problem, either. The Blackhawks had 27 even-strength scoring chances compared to Philadelphia's 20. They just couldn't finish.

The biggest missed opportunity was a 5-on-3 man advantage in the second period for a solid 1:44, yet they came up empty. Those are the kinds of opportunities that can change the complexion of the game.

5. Connor Murphy on the board.

It was a fitting time for Murphy to score his first goal as a member of the Blackhawks, despite it taking 13 games.

With his mom in the arena for the Blackhawks' mother's trip and his dad, Gord, on the home bench as the assistant coach for the Flyers, Murphy broke his scoring slump when he followed up his own rebound and wristed one past Brian Elliott for his first goal since March 21 of last season.

Murphy finished with seven shot attempts (three on goal), two hits and one blocked shot in 12:49 of ice time.

Life was a lot different last time the Blackhawks missed the playoffs

Life was a lot different last time the Blackhawks missed the playoffs

For the first time in a decade, the Blackhawks officially will not be in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

With a 5-1 loss to the Colorado Avalanche Tuesday night at the United Center, the Blackhawks will be sitting at home mid-April instead of looking to add to their trophy case.

Exactly 366 days before, the Blackhawks actually became the first NHL team to clinch a playoff berth, also the result of a game against the Avs:

The last time the Blackhawks missed the playoffs, Denis Savard was the coach and Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane were just 19 years old in the midst of their rookie seasons.

The next year, Joel Quenneville took over as coach after four games and led the Blackhawks all the way to the Conference Finals.

Of course, the following year (2009-10 season) brought the first of three Stanley Cups.

For perspective on how incredible this stretch has been for the Blackhawks, here's how the other professional Chicago sports teams spent 2008:

—The Bears finished 9-7 in Matt Forte's rookie year (he's since retired) with Kyle Orton as the starting quarterback and Lovie Smith as head coach.

—The Cubs led the National League in runs scored en route to a 97-win regular season...before falling flat against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLDS. Lou Piniella was still the manager and Theo Epstein was still three years away from coming to Chicago.

—The Bulls found some incredible luck, pulling the No. 1 overall pick and selecting Chicago native Derrick Rose. He helped the Bulls to a 41-41 season as a rookie under coach Vinny Del Negro.

—The White Sox lost to Joe Maddon and the Tampa Bay Rays in the ALDS after winning the AL Central under manager Ozzie Guillen. Carlos Quentin enjoyed a breakout season (36 HR, 100 RBI) while Gavin Floyd won 17 games. 

The Blackhawks still have eight games left before the 2017-18 season ends April 7.

Alex DeBrincat records third career hat trick, but Blackhawks lose to Blues in overtime

Alex DeBrincat records third career hat trick, but Blackhawks lose to Blues in overtime

For Alex DeBrincat, it was probably nice to hear Chelsea Dagger again.

But how about three times?

The 20-year-old rookie snapped out of a 13-game scoring drought in a big way on Sunday night, recording his third hat trick of the season. DeBrincat did all he could to help give the Blackhawks two points, but they only came away with one in a 5-4 overtime loss to the St. Louis Blues.

DeBrincat is now the first rookie in franchise history with three hat tricks in the same season, passing Steve Larmer. His last two hat tricks came against the Anaheim Ducks on Nov. 27, 2017 and Detroit Red Wings on Jan. 25.

"It's pretty cool," DeBrincat said of his third hat trick, "but I wouldn't be able to do that without the guys we have in this locker room and the linemates I've had. Most credit to them."

Entering Sunday, his last goal was on Feb. 17 against the Washington Capitals.

"Obviously it's frustrating when you go through a slump that like that but what I've learned is to stay positive and there's other things you can help your team win with," DeBrincat said. "Just kind of focus on those things."

He netted goals No. 23, 24 and 25 on the season, tying Patrick Kane for the team lead. He is also tied for second among goals scored by a rookie this season.

DeBrincat opened the scoring with nice wrist shot on the power play to give the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead midway through the first. With less than a minute to go in the period, he tapped one home in front of the net to make it 2-0.

In the third period with the game tied at 3-3, DeBrincat put his team in front 4-3 with 3:13 left in regulation. 

“We were talking about [DeBrincat] today, it had been a while since he had scored," coach Joel Quenneville said. "But whether he scores or not, he does a lot of good things in the game, and he’s very aware of his positioning, and doing the right things, finding pucks, getting in shooting lanes, or denying passing lanes. So he’s effective in a lot of ways, but nice to see him score a nice power-play goal today.”

But Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo even things up again after a shot from the point found its way past J-F Berube with 1:22 left. Patrik Berglund would net the game-winner in overtime to hand the Blackhawks a loss.

"I feel like we’ve played well and we just came up a little bit short," DeBrincat said. "I feel like that’s been the theme of this whole season.”