Blackhawks

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' 4-2 loss to Canucks: Losing ground in playoff race

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' 4-2 loss to Canucks: Losing ground in playoff race

Here are five takeaways from the Blackhawks' 4-2 loss to the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena on Thursday night:

1. Powerless play.

If there was an area the Blackhawks could exploit against Vancouver, it was the power play. The Canucks entered the game ranked 25th in penalty kill percentage (77.6), and had allowed one power-play goal in three straight games.

The Blackhawks were awarded four power plays in this one, three of which came in the first 25 minutes of the game, and couldn't capitalize.

You could argue the first one should've been a penalty shot after Jonathan Toews drew a slashing penalty, but they had six scoring chances on their four power play attempts and failed to find the back of the net on each of them. There were enough chances in those eight minutes to cash in.

It remains an area of concern, and the Blackhawks aren't going to climb out of this hole without their power play turning it around.

2. Blackhawks caught in a bind on Vancouver's first goal.

The Blackhawks weren't able to take advantage of any one of their four power plays, so the Canucks made them pay.

Shortly after the third power play expired early in the second period, the Canucks scored on an odd-man rush when Brendan Gauce ripped a wrist shot underneath Anton Forsberg to tie it up at 1-1 for his first of two on the night. The Blackhawks still had four forwards on the ice to only one defenseman, and weren't able to make a change to get a second defenseman out there. 

Alex DeBrincat was serving as the second defenseman, and his neutral zone clearing attempt failed to get out, which led to the 2-on-1 opportunity and the eventual goal.

3. Don't blame Anton Forsberg.

If you're just looking at the box score, you'll notice Forsberg stopped just 17 of 21 shots (.809 save percentage) after coming off a season-high 42-save performance in a 2-1 win over the Nashville Predators. But don't pin this on him.

The Canucks had 22 total scoring chances and scored all four goals at 5-on-5 hovering around the net.

Check out how close three of those four goals came from the crease, according to naturalstattrick.com:

There's nothing you can do there if you're a goaltender. It's the five guys in front of Forsberg's job to prevent those scoring opportunities from happening within an arms reach of their netminder.

4. Losing ground.

Not only did the Blackhawks fail to earn at least a point, but they lost ground in the wild-card race in the process.

Going into Wednesday's game, the Blackhawks' playoff percentage was up to 24.4 compared to 10.5 just a week ago, according to sportsclubstats.com. Now it's back down to 17.2 percent.

The Stars, Avalanche and Wild each picked up victories and all three of those teams are ahead of the Blackhawks fighting for the same spot. The good news is, the Flames lost their second in a row and remain within three points of the Blackhawks.

Those two teams face each other in back-to-back games, so there's a chance for the Blackhawks to jump ahead of them if they can manage to get four points without allowing one to Calgary.

5. Young guns taking over.

Let's take a positive away from this game. With Nick Schmaltz and DeBrincat each lighting the lamp, the last 10 Blackhawks goals have now been scored by players 23 or younger.

Rebuild? This is it. Think of it more as reloading.

The Blackhawks aren't going to trade away their promising prospects or draft picks at this point just to squeeze out another Stanley Cup run in a championship window that is perceived to be closing.

Perhaps the dynasty days are over, but remaining competitive both in the short term and long term is something the Blackhawks have made clear is their goal. They want to keep this train rolling for a while, and washing up the pipeline for some trade deadline rentals would get in the way of that.

Blackhawks deal Michael Kempny to Capitals for conditional third-round pick

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USA TODAY

Blackhawks deal Michael Kempny to Capitals for conditional third-round pick

The Blackhawks dealt defenseman Michael Kempny to the Washington Capitals for a third-round pick. Kempny had seven points in 31 games this season.

Kempny, 27, recorded 15 points in 81 career games for the Blackhawks. He tallied an assist in Saturday's 7-1 victory over the Capitals.

Kempny signed a one-year extension through the end of this season back in May.

Capitals' Devante Smith-Pelly speaks out about 'racially charged chanting' at United Center

Capitals' Devante Smith-Pelly speaks out about 'racially charged chanting' at United Center

After being on the receiving end of some racist taunts while he was in the penalty box during Saturday's game against the Blackhawks, Capitals winger Devante Smith-Pelly spoke publicly about the incident.

Smith-Pelly, a 25-year-old Canadian, reacted to the fans while he was in the box, going up to them from the other side of the glass. He addressed questions from the media about the incident on Sunday.

"I just heard some chanting, some, I guess, racially charged chanting," Smith-Pelly said. "You can tell by my reaction that I got pretty upset.

"What was said this time around crossed the line."

The Capitals released a statement about the incident:

"The Washington Capitals are extremely disappointed by the intolerant behavior extended toward Devante Smith-Pelly by a select group of fans during Saturday night's game against the Chicago Blackhawks at United Center. The Capitals organization strives to be inclusive and has zero tolerance concerning any form of racism. Such behavior is unacceptable and has no place in hockey or society. As such, it is crucial to confront such appalling conduct, and the Capitals extend their appreciation to the Blackhawks organization and United Center security for swiftly removing the fans from the game."

The Blackhawks released a statement after the game with a similar tone.

Smith-Pelly said this has happened previously in his career.

"It's sad that in 2018 we're still talking about the same thing over and over," Smith-Pelly said. "It's sad that athletes like myself 30, 40 years ago were standing in the same spot saying the same thing. You'd think there'd be some sort of change or progression, but we're still working towards it I guess and we're going to keep working towards it."

The Capitals released the full interview.