Five Things: Energy shortage dooms Blackhawks vs. Hurricanes


Five Things: Energy shortage dooms Blackhawks vs. Hurricanes

It wasn’t that long ago that the Blackhawks broke out of their scoring doldrums, finally getting production from more than just their second line.

Well, the offense has disappeared again, and it almost led to their second consecutive shutout loss on Sunday night. Brent Seabrook kept that from happening, scoring with three seconds remaining in regulation. But it was an otherwise quiet game for the Blackhawks in their 2-1 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes.

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Now the Blackhawks hit the road for their final two games of 2015. So before it’s wheels up, let’s look at the Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ loss to Carolina.

1. The outside game was evident. And playing the outside game rarely wins anything. The Blackhawks certainly know that. Look back at their Dec. 20 victory against the San Jose Sharks: every goal the Blackhawks scored, including Jonathan Toews’ overtime winner, was within about five feet of the goal. Credit the Hurricanes for doing a good job of keeping the Blackhawks to the outside. But those are battles the Blackhawks have to be better at winning, especially because they weren’t the group playing for the second game in as many nights.

2. Energy lapse. The Blackhawks hadn’t played since Tuesday. Fatigue, which looked to be an issue by the third period of that game against Dallas, was not the issue on Sunday night. The Blackhawks had a relatively lethargic start to this one. If they come out with energy, perhaps they put the Hurricanes on their heels early. But that didn’t happen.

3. Fourth line playing well again. The Blackhawks had six shots on goal early against the Hurricanes. Fourth liners Andrew Desjardins, Phillip Danault and Ryan Garbutt combined for five of them (one for Desjardins, two each for the other two). That’s great for the fourth line, but that also showed how little the other lines were doing until later in the game. If only one of those guys could’ve scored an early one.

[MORE: Blackhawks offense quiet in loss to Hurricanes]

4. Power play goes quiet again. The Blackhawks had the advantage just once on Sunday but it was a forgettable effort. They barely spent any time in the Hurricanes’ zone. They didn’t get a shot on goal. Again, it’s just one opportunity. But even if the Blackhawks didn’t score on it, generating some zone time and shots may have led to some momentum moving forward.

5. Kris Versteeg and Joakim Nordstrom welcomed back at the UC. The two, who were honored on the video board during Sunday’s game, have gotten bigger opportunities with the Hurricanes, who acquired them from the Blackhawks in September. That’s been especially true of Nordstrom, who’s now a second liner with Carolina. These trades have become a regular part of the Blackhawks’ post-Cup summers. Here’s to two more who turned a trade into opportunity elsewhere.

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks collide with Senators

NBC Sports Chicago

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks collide with Senators

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the Ottawa Senators tonight on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. Trade chips.

The Blackhawks have reached the point in their season where they have no choice but to become sellers before the Feb. 26 deadline, and we saw that when they traded Michal Kempny to the Washington Capitals on Monday for a conditional third-round pick in 2018. Tommy Wingels could also be an attractive piece for a team looking to fill out their depth.

The Senators will definitely be sellers, and wow do they have some names potentially on the market that can fetch large returns: Derrick Brassard and Mike Hoffman are two players who log top-six minutes on a nightly basis and also have term left on their contract, which is great for teams looking to load up for this year and beyond.

The biggest name to watch, probably in the league altogether, is Erik Karlsson, who could be on the move if a team offers a big enough package for the Senators to pull the trigger now as opposed to in the offseason if they feel him re-signing is a long shot. He was the best defenseman last season, and if a team steps up to get him, they're getting two possible postseason runs out of him.

2. Artem Anisimov's experiment at left wing not working.

Joel Quenneville has tried rekindling the magic between Anisimov, Nick Schmaltz and Patrick Kane as of late, only this time Anisimov is playing the wing and it just hasn't been very effective. The trio was on the ice for each of the two 5-on-5 goals the Kings scored on Monday, and Anisimov completely lost his man on the first one.

It's important to establish a consistent left winger for Schmaltz and Kane, and maybe putting Alex DeBrincat up there is something you consider going forward as part of a long-term solution. Move Anisimov back down as the third-line center to play in more of a defensive role and continue using his big body on power plays for his offensive abilities might be the best bet.

3. Win the special teams battle.

In their last meeting against Ottawa on Jan. 9, the Blackhawks went 4-for-6 on the power play and 4-on-4 on the penalty kill in an 8-2 win. And those are two areas to look out for again.

The Senators own the 28th-ranked power play with a 16.1 percent success rate and 29th-ranked penalty kill with a 74.5 percent success rate. Get ready for another offensive outburst?

Podcast: Which Blackhawks could be on the move before trade deadline?


Podcast: Which Blackhawks could be on the move before trade deadline?

On the latest Blackhawks Talk Podcast, Adam Burish and Pat Boyle discuss which Blackhawks could be on the trading block and what players are building blocks for the Hawks future.

Burish also shares a couple memorable trade deadline days and his “near” return to the Blackhawks in 2012. Plus, he makes his bold trade deadline prediction for the Hawks.

Listen to the full Blackhawks Talk Podcast right here: