On Wednesday the Blackhawks came close. They couldn’t say that on Monday. But close didn’t earn them a thing when they lost to the Philadelphia Flyers. Instead, the Blackhawks suffered their fourth loss and once again failed to gain any ground on their Central Division rivals Dallas and St. Louis.
The Blackhawks need to find answers, and they’ll take to the road now to do it. As Andrew Ladd preps for a return to Winnipeg – oh, and Jonathan Toews, too – let’s look at Five Things to take from the Flyers’ 3-2 victory over the Blackhawks.
1. Marian Hossa gets closer. Hossa has struggled to score this season, even prior to the lower-body injury that sidelined him for about three weeks (his last goal was Feb. 6 vs. Dallas). But he broke out of his slump with a short-handed goal in the first period on Wednesday. Hossa is now three goals away from 500 for his NHL career. He said recently he should start thinking about that milestone, because he currently wasn’t thinking about it and not scoring. Perhaps he’s focused on it now.
2. A failed 5-on-3. The Blackhawks had 1:53 of a 5-on-3 in the first period, not long after Hossa gave them a 1-0 lead. It was a great opportunity to really put the Flyers on their heels but the Blackhawks got too pass happy and came up empty on it. “It would have been nice to stretch that lead,” Brent Seabrook said. “We got some looks, we got some chances; it just didn’t go in for us.”
3. Line changes have mixed results. The top line looked pretty good – other than Tomas Fleischmann looking a little snake-bit. Coach Joel Quenneville thought the team looked better overall in this one than they had the previous three losses, but we’re not sure the changes brought the overall desired effect.
4. Home not so sweet lately. The Blackhawks haven’t been at the United Center much the last two months. Their time here, however, hasn’t been successful. The Blackhawks are just 3-5-1 in their last nine home games (since Feb. 9). For a team that usually dominates at the United Center, and did for the greater part of this season, this has been surprising.
5. Not panicking yet. Of course the Blackhawks aren’t panicking. They’ve been here, done this, had lapses and gotten out of them previously. They’ll let everyone else freak out. Still, there are things they need to address and they have to do it soon. They’re not losing ground but they’re not gaining anything, either. “I think the goal at the beginning of the season was to win the Central Division. We’re in a spot to do that right now. There’s still a lot of hockey left too,” Patrick Kane said. “If we concentrate one game at a time, play a better team game every game, every chance we have, hopefully we’re where we want to be come playoff time. But obviously we’re not there yet.”