Five Things: Slow start dooms Blackhawks in loss to Predators


Five Things: Slow start dooms Blackhawks in loss to Predators

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Two steps forward, one step back.

That’s probably the best way to describe the Blackhawks’ last few games, including their forgettable 5-1 loss to the Nashville Predators on Thursday night. Just when the Blackhawks looked like they were making progress they mailed in this one. That garbage can coach Joel Quenneville talks about throwing some games into? Yeah, this one would qualify. But before we call it a night on Broadway, let’s look at Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ loss to Nashville.

[MORE: Kane extends point streak but Blackhawks throttled by Predators]

1. What the heck was that? That’s probably what you all were asking during the Blackhawks’ first 20 minutes. The Predators came with everything they had, from energy to hits to shots, and the Blackhawks showed absolutely nothing in response. Quenneville used the word “ugly” twice to describe the Blackhawks’ start in this one. It’s hard to argue otherwise.

2. Give them a few more Andrew Shaws. If there was one guy who showed mettle throughout this one it was Shaw. The Blackhawks third liner had the most energy, showed the most drive toward the net and was willing to go up against a much bigger Barret Jackman to try and light a fire under the Blackhawks’ collective behind. Shaw came away with bloodied knuckles. The Blackhawks came away still looking uninspired.

3. Scott Darling under siege. The Blackhawks’ backup goaltender faced 18 Predators shots in the first period. Through the first seven or eight minutes he held strong, batting away one prime chance after another. He eventually gave up four. But Quenneville wasn’t putting this loss on his goaltender. “Chances not as frequent and the quality wasn’t as high, but it wasn’t the goalie’s fault. At all,” he said.

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

4. Patrick Kane continues his streak. This really was about the only thing to get giddy about from the Blackhawks’ standpoint. Kane punched home a loose puck – and replays, much to Pekka Rinne’s chagrin, did show the goaltender never had control of the puck – to extend his point streak to 24 games. But, as Shaw observed, “I know he’s the type of guy who would rather have the win than keep the streak going.”

5. Take a lesson. The Blackhawks got a reminder on Thursday of what happens when they start poorly. They have about 24 hours to get over it and learn something. Winnipeg, a 6-4 winner over Columbus tonight, will probably still be ticked about their loss in Chicago last Sunday. The Blackhawks had better be prepared for an opponent looking to start the way the Predators did tonight.

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: