Minnesota Wild

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' 5-2 loss to Wild: Counting on goaltending too much?

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USA TODAY

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' 5-2 loss to Wild: Counting on goaltending too much?

Here are five takeaways from the Blackhawks' 5-2 loss to the Minnesota Wild on Thursday night:
 
1. The power play is still quiet.

The Blackhawks had two opportunities on Thursday; the first was forgettable while the second generated more chances but still ended with no production. And with that, the Blackhawks’ power play is now 3-for-18 on the season. Hey, a struggling power play is a running theme with this team so this shouldn’t be a total surprise. 
 
2. Counting on goaltending too much again?

It seemed that way for the first half of this one, anyway. The Wild didn’t have many more shots than the Blackhawks but they had better scoring opportunities. Crawford was up to it for most of this one until things got interesting in the third period. 
 
3. John Hayden’s shot.

The Blackhawks fourth liner has been a physical presence since the start of training camp and he’s had a few fights. He had another melee on Thursday night, sparring with Marcus Foligno and landing a huge right to Foligno’s jaw at the end of it.
 
4. Getting a little weary?

The Wild were playing in just their third game of the season on Thursday. The Blackhawks, meanwhile, played their fifth in the last seven days. It’s still early but that’s a lot of hockey in a week.

The Blackhawks did a lot of good things over the past week but after a busy stretch, Friday’s rest day is necessary. 
 
5. The Blackhawks miss Nick Schmaltz (a lot).

This one is becoming more evident with each passing game. The second line certainly could use him; Patrick Kane hasn’t had a point, nor has he had as many opportunities, since Schmaltz suffered his upper-body injury against Columbus.

Quenneville has switched up the bottom three lines looking to spark the offense. But there’s good news on Schmaltz: skated on Thursday morning and the Blackhawks are hoping the center will return on Saturday.

Failed offside challenge has Blackhawks seething: 'One play cost us the whole game'

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USA TODAY

Failed offside challenge has Blackhawks seething: 'One play cost us the whole game'

Taking another look, asking for the review. The coaches challenge comes with a different twist this season, one that ups the risk if you choose to implement it. Lose it, and you head to the penalty kill.

“You can see how it turns the game around a little bit,” Ryan Hartman said Thursday night. “They install that to make sure you know for sure.”

The Blackhawks were sure this challenge would turn out in their favor. They were sure that Jason Zucker was offside when the puck banked off Brent Seabrook’s skate and into the Blackhawks’ zone and the Minnesota Wild’s second goal, off a 2-on-1 by Chris Stewart, would be wiped out. But the call stood, the goal counted, the penalty was assessed, the Wild added a power-play goal and the game was ultimately lost.

“One play cost us the whole game,” coach Joel Quenneville said following the Blackhawks' 5-2 loss to the Wild.

The NHL situation room released its explanation on the failed challenge, stating:

After reviewing all available replays and consulting with the Linesman, NHL Hockey Operations staff determined that the actions of Chicago's Brent Seabrook caused the puck to enter the attacking zone and the call on the ice was upheld - good goal Minnesota Wild. The decision was made in accordance with Rule 83.1 which states, in part, that "If a player legally carries or passes the puck back into his own defending zone while a player of the opposing team is in such defending zone, the off-side shall be ignored and play permitted to continue."

“He didn’t carry it and didn’t have possession, so I disagree with that rule,” Quenneville said. “We brought [the puck] in, but you have to have control, possession of it.”

It seems that Rule 83.2 would apply more to Thursday’s situation:

Deflections / Rebounds – When a defending player propels the puck out of his defending zone and the puck clearly rebounds off a defending player in the neutral zone back into the defending zone, all attacking players are eligible to play the puck. However, any action by an attacking player that causes a deflection/rebound off a defending player in the neutral zone back into the defending zone (i.e. stick check, body check, physical contact), a delayed off-side shall be signaled by the Linesman. A puck that deflects back into the defending zone off an official who is in the neutral zone will be off-side (or delayed off-side, as appropriate).

Seabrook was just frustrated at himself.

“That was tough. A bouncing puck but it’s on me. I have to do a better job of keeping it at the blue line, or at least making a play and not giving up a 2-on-1 at that point,” Seabrook said. “We just got back with a tie game and just a tough one.”

The Blackhawks were sure they got this one right but it was ruled otherwise. It was one call, but it was one costly call.

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks battle Wild in Central Division showdown

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Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks battle Wild in Central Division showdown

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the Minnesota Wild 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. What's the status of Nick Schmaltz?

The Blackhawks picked up three out of a possible four points during their mini two-game road trip in Toronto and Montreal, but they've certainly missed Schmaltz. They were outshot by a combined 85-46 against the Maple Leafs and Canadiens, showing the imbalance their lineup has with Schmaltz not in it.

Joel Quenneville told reporters at morning skate that Schmaltz will not play due to an upper-body injury, and they're now targeting Saturday for a potential return. Minnesota is the first of three straight games against Central Division opponents for Chicago, so the quicker Schmaltz can return the better.

2. Duncan Keith and Ryan Suter.

We've watched the Blackhawks score a ton of goals through four games this season, so let's focus on the defensive matchup this time, shall we?

Keith and Suter are the blue-line anchors for their respective teams, and are two of only a handful of defensemen who are capable of logging heavy minutes while getting better as the game goes on.

They've both gotten off to slow starts offensively, combining for two assists in six games, but that doesn't take away from how dangerous they are at both ends of the ice. They're the engines that make their defenses go.

3. Two potential Calder Trophy candidates.

Both the Blackhawks and Wild have exciting top prospects that have cracked the every-day lineup this season, and both of them have a chance to be in the mix for the Calder Trophy as the league's top rookie.

Alex DeBrincat, who was taken by Chicago in the second round (No. 39 overall) of the 2016 draft, scored his first career goal in the NHL on Tuesday night and has three points in four games.

Joel Eriksson Ek, a first-round selection (No. 20 overall) in 2015 by Minnesota, has solidified his spot as the Wild's third-line center, and scored a goal in the team's season opener.

Expect these two rookies to at least be in the hunt of the rookie scoring race all season.