Remember a few weeks ago when the Blackhawks weren’t generating at much as they’d like offensively and were losing those low-scoring games? Well, those Blackhawks seemed to have returned.
Despite going into the third with a 1-1 tie the Blackhawks came up empty, with Ryan Suter and Minnesota Wild taking a 2-1 decision. It wasn’t the way the Blackhawks wanted to return home but there it is nonetheless. So before they hit the road again, albeit for a much more brief amount of time, let’s look at Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ loss to Minnesota.
1. Patrick Kane keeps on going. Again, he’s been the one constant on a team that’s struggled to find many of them. Kane’s power-play goal in the second period gives him a 20-game point streak. If he gets a point against Ottawa on Thursday, he’ll tie Bobby Hull for the franchise’s longest streak (21 games, set during the 1971-72 season). Obviously the streak isn’t foremost on Kane’s mind, but since he’s come this far he might as well at least tie the team record.
[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]
2. Penalty kill works but at what price? The Blackhawks said they were fine heading into the third period, despite killing three consecutive penalties through the final 10 minutes of the second period. Yes, they denied the Wild any goals on any of those power plays. Still, with Kane’s goal coming 5:21 into the second period, the Blackhawks’ penalties stalled any chance they had of capitalizing off that game-tying goal. “Yeah, I mean, you don’t want to take penalties like that. It’s tough to get a lead or do much when we give them penalties a lot of the time and take the momentum we have out of the game,” Duncan Keith said. “We have to stay out of the box for sure.”
3. Not getting much time in the opponent’s zone. This has been another problem for the Blackhawks this season. More than a few times on Tuesday, they’d go into the Wild zone, perhaps get a shot off, then the puck and Wild were going the other way to get ample time in the Blackhawks’ zone. Part of that is the Blackhawks still looking for the right line combinations that can generate things. Which brings us to…
4. Change up the lines again. We’re not sure what will work but, outside of the second line, the other three are once again not working. They were barely working to begin with but the difference between the second line and the other three on Tuesday night was pretty glaring. Since the Blackhawks are coming off a regulation loss, don’t be surprised to see new combinations come Wednesday morning.
5. Getting it together soon. At the start of this season, several Blackhawks said it would probably take 15-20 games to gel. Well, we’re past that threshold. Perhaps it’s taking a little bit longer or perhaps this is going to be a problem for a bit. But as Kane said, “we know what we have to do to win games, whether it’s the veterans or younger guys. We know what we have to do to win games in this league. No excuses.”