Edmonton Massacre: Blackhawks embarrased by 9-2 defeat


Edmonton Massacre: Blackhawks embarrased by 9-2 defeat

EDMONTON, Alberta The Blackhawks werent in Las Vegas on Saturday night but their minds may have been. Because for the second consecutive night, they watched a struggling team skate and score right around them.

Taylor Hall tallied a hat trick, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins had five assists as the Edmonton Oilers pummeled the Blackhawks 9-2 at Rexall Place. It was the second awful loss in as many nights for the Blackhawks, who once again suffered from team-wide defensive lapses and sloppy play.

Were unhappy. Were embarrassed. Were pissed off. Im not going to lie, Jonathan Toews said. Every single guy couldve been better out there. Not one guy, not two guys, everyone.

Patrick Sharp said, right from the first shift we didnt do anything right and it carried on through the whole 60 minutes.

After beating the Vancouver Canucks 5-1 on Wednesday, the Blackhawks have now been outscored 14-4 in their last two games, including Friday nights 5-2 loss in Calgary. And while it looks like the Blackhawks will keep their plans to spend these next two days in Sin City, they have a lot to think about on their mini vacation.

That was thoroughly embarrassing, humiliating across the board, said coach Joel Quenneville. I think there are a lot of culprits tonight that share in that feeling they were off in both games. Both games werent up to par. Lets all accept some responsibility knowing it wasnt good enough.

And on Saturday it didnt take long for the Blackhawks to fall apart. Edmonton scored off a Blackhawks miscue just 48 seconds into the game. About seven minutes later the Blackhawks were down 3-1. After the first 20 minutes they were down 5-1. Starter Ray Emery was pulled after allowing those first three goals in the opening 7:32, but was back in net to start the second period Corey Crawford allowed two in his first-period work.

But the Blackhawks biggest problems are outside the net, not in it. Theyre making a lot of mistakes, and too many of them are ending up in the back of their net.

I felt coming in I wanted to respond. I was energetic coming into the game. The next thing you know its in the back of our net, said Duncan Keith, who was a minus-4 for the second consecutive night. Obviously I have to find a way to be off the ice for some goals. Its not going my way. I just need to be better.

The Oilers were much like the Flames on Friday night: struggling and just looking for the chance to break out of a four-game losing streak. They were also missing four of their top six defensemen. It didnt matter. The Oilers were easily the more determined and opportunistic group and the Blackhawks had little to no fight in retaliation.

We had a very poor start, we kept taking penalties and kept digging ourselves into a hole, Toews said. That team was desperate to make us pay for some of the games we might have had in the past couple of years. They stuck it to us pretty good.

The Blackhawks will get away from hockey for the next two days. But they wont get away from the sting from these last two games. This is not Blackhawks hockey, and its especially not the hockey they had played in their four-game winning streak.

They need to reverse their fortunes. And that needs to happen even after they leave Vegas.

Our record is pretty good but I dont think if you went around individually and ask guys how theyre playing theyd say At the top of their game, defenseman Sean ODonnell said. Weve had spurts. We havent had a super difficult schedule. Heres hoping these two losses wake us up a little bit because we have a tough game Wednesday (in San Jose). We need to right the ship right away.

Injury update

Michael Frolik (shoulder) and Brent Seabrook (leg) did not play on Saturday night. Quenneville said both skated Saturday morning, and both will be re-evaluated when the Blackhawks resume practices on Tuesday in San Jose.

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.”

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.