Blackhawks

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.

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Could Blackhawks become sellers at trade deadline?

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USA TODAY

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Could Blackhawks become sellers at trade deadline?

On the latest Hawks Talk Podcast, Pat Boyle and Steve Konroyd discuss the Blackhawks’ poor effort vs. Detroit, Corey Crawford’s health and what kind of run they will need to go on to make the Staney Cup playoffs.

Konroyd also weighs in on his roster concerns and whether or not the Blackhawks will be buyers or sellers at the Feb. 26 trade deadline.

Joel Quenneville sends message to Blackhawks going into bye week

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AP

Joel Quenneville sends message to Blackhawks going into bye week

The Blackhawks are in a position they've never been in under Joel Quenneville. It's mid-January and they find themselves below the playoff line.

To make things even more difficult, they'll be sitting at home or on vacation for the next five days while they watch other Western Conference teams accumulate points during their league-mandated bye week. That means when they return to action on Saturday they'll have lots of ground to make up and minimal margin for error.

So while the Blackhawks should certainly use their down time to recharge both mentally and physically, Quenneville's message to his team is very clear.

"Mentally, get away," he said following a 4-0 loss to the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday. "Relax, I guess. Have a little fun. But hockey still has to be in the back of your mind. It’s still going to be on when you’re out there. Certainly knowing it’s going to take a lot more than what we showed in the first half of the season. We’re going to need everyone going all out every single night to have a chance."

And it's alarmingly true.

Here's what the wild card picture looks like going into Monday:

While just three points separate the Blackhawks from the Wild, the Blackhawks are in the worst position among the six teams in the picture. The Stars, who are already ahead by a point, have one game in hand on the Blackhawks, the Sharks have four and the streaking Avalanche have three. Heck, even the Ducks have a game in hand, which means an extra win would put them above the Blackhawks.

Every point is critical for the Blackhawks, not only because it obviously keeps them in the hunt, but because on game's they fail to collect points, they're scoreboard watching five other teams hoping they're coming away with nothing as well.

The Blackhawks will come out of the bye week with three straight home games, and if they don't play with their backs against the wall from here on out, their nine-year playoff streak could be in serious jeopardy.