Five Things from Game 5: Blackhawks season on the brink


Five Things from Game 5: Blackhawks season on the brink

ANAHEIM, Calif. — It was looking like the Blackhawks were going to pull another rabbit out of the hat, wasn’t it?

We’ve seen this movie before: Blackhawks find a way to get to overtime, Blackhawks play extended overtimes and Blackhawks win in overtime. But on Monday, the script was flipped, and quickly. The Ducks got an odd-man rush and cashed in, with Matt Beleskey’s rebound goal giving them a 5-4 victory just 45 seconds into overtime.

[MORE: Blackhawks rally falls short in Game 5 OT loss to Ducks]

Now the Blackhawks are up against it, facing elimination when they host Game 6 on Wednesday night. Will they stave it off and force a Game 7? Will they learn from their mistakes, especially all of those committed in the first period? We’ll find that out on Wednesday. Until then, let’s look at the Five Things to take from the Ducks’ Game 5 victory over the Blackhawks.

1. Have to start better than that. For all the talk of urgency and getting off to a strong start, the Blackhawks were absent in the first 20 minutes. It was awful. They were awful. All comebacks aside, the Blackhawks had no excuses for their start, in which they got just three shots — and those came in the final 3:37 of the period — and trailed 3-0. Said Patrick Sharp, “Crucial game in their building, we know they’re going to come out with some pace and put a lot of pucks on net. They certainly did that and we weren’t ready to start the game.”

2. Don’t doubt Jonathan Toews. Entering Game 4, Toews still didn’t have a goal in this series. In the final 1:50 on Monday night, he scored twice to force the game to overtime. That’s what your top players do: they find a way. While that second goal was a terrible one for Frederik Andersen to give up — bad angle, off his leg — full marks to Toews for giving the Blackhawks a chance.

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3. Teuvo Teravainen providing a jolt. The forward shrugged off his Game 3 healthy scratch status, scoring a goal and an assist in Game 5. Teravainen could have been overwhelmed by the NHL playoff stage, this being his first time on it. Instead he’s been poised, and was part of a strong third line with Sharp and Antoine Vermette. “I’m confident. I’m a lot more confident out there [on the ice] than in the media right here,” Teravainen said to laughs. “That’s a good thing.”

4. Another three-goal period against the Blackhawks. The first period was the seventh — yes, seventh — time this postseason that the Blackhawks have given up three goals in a period. That’s not good. Again, good on the Blackhawks for coming back but they’re putting themselves in this position too often. Said Quenneville, “we have to kill that.”

5. [Post]season on the brink. Well, it comes to this: for all the times the Blackhawks call games “must-win,” Wednesday’s game truly is that. As Toews said, they’ve faced series deficits before and play their best when faced with critical situations. They need that on Wednesday, and they need it from the start this time.

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.

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Has the championship window closed?


Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Has the championship window closed?

On the latest Hawks Talk Podcast, Jonathan Toews sits down with Pat Boyle for a 1-on-1 interview. Toews weighs in on his season with Brandon Saad, whether he expects major changes this offseason and has the championship window closed?

Also, Adam Burish joins the podcast and plays the game: “Building block, not sure, or no thanks.” Burish runs down the Blackhawks forwards and predicts whether or not they have a future with the team.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below: