Five takeaways from Ducks-Blackhawks: Goals galore

Five takeaways from Ducks-Blackhawks: Goals galore

Remember when the Blackhawks’ offense was too quiet? Yeah, those days are gone. Here are five takeaways from the Blackhawks’ 7-3 victory over the Anaheim Ducks.

1. Cat with the hat. Alex DeBrincat was doing well even when he wasn’t scoring goals. But when he does, he’s stellar. DeBrincat recorded his first NHL hat trick on Monday night, Patrick Kane feeding him for the power-play goal early in the second period to complete the trick. DeBrincat has played mainly right wing this season – he played on the left his final two years in Erie. The switch hasn’t hurt him. DeBrincat has scored nine of his 10 goals in November.

2. Patrick Sharp’s drought ends. Sharp hadn’t recorded a goal (make that a point of any kind) since Oct. 14. His skid ended on Monday night as his third goal of the season gave the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead in the first period. Sharp took the feed from Ryan Hartman, another Blackhawks forward who needed, and had, a strong game.

3. Nick Schmaltz gets going again, too. Schmaltz has had assists here or there but he hadn’t scored a goal since Oct. 28 against the Colorado Avalanche. Patrick Kane’s deft pass to him on the doorstep gave Schmaltz his fourth goal of the season to go with two assists.

4. Avoiding letdowns. The Blackhawks had a couple in this one, just gaffes that let the Ducks have some breathing room. The Ducks had back-to-back power plays to start the third – Chris Wagner got his second goal of the night on the first power play before the Blackhawks killed off the second. Again, the Ducks never really threatened, but the Blackhawks want to stay away from some of those hiccups.

5. The offense is back. From late October to early November, the Blackhawks fought, scratched and scraped for every goal. They’ve regained their scoring touch, seemingly one line at a time. Since Nov. 11, when they came back for a 4-3 overtime victory over the Carolina Hurricanes, the Blackhawks have scored 30 goals in their last seven games. In seven games prior to that they had just 12 goals.

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.”