Ryan Hartman

Two crucial challenges go against Blackhawks in loss to Flames

Two crucial challenges go against Blackhawks in loss to Flames

The NHL replay system didn’t do the Blackhawks – who need every point they can get – any favors on Tuesday night.

Two crucial, potential game-changing challenges went against the home team in a 3-2 loss to the Calgary Flames at the United Center.

Let’s break it down.

Challenge No. 1: Early in the second period, Ryan Hartman scored a wacky goal to give the Blackhawks a 2-1 lead. After a lengthy review to determine if Hartman kicked the puck in the net – which was confirmed he did not – the Flames challenged for goaltender interference. After another lengthy review, the call was reversed, with refs saying Hartman indeed interfered with Mike Smith.

According to the NHL, "The Referee determined that Hartman prevented Smith from doing his job in his crease."

Hartman disagreed.

“The puck's right there in my body and I'm just standing there and I get pulled over and the puck goes in the net,” Hartman said of the play after the game. “I didn't lunge at the goalie, I didn't go into the goalie. I fell backwards, so I don't know.”

Joel Quennville’s face says it all.

Challenge No. 2: With 3:30 left in the third period, Johnny Gaudreau appeared to have deflected a shot by Michael Stone to give the Flames a 2-1 lead. Immediately, Blackhawks goalie Jeff Glass put his hands up in the air, believing Gaudreau’s stick was above the crossbar when the puck was redirected. The Blackhawks challenged, but quickly lost.

The Flames would eventually go on to score an empty-netter, and Patrick Kane scored with about six seconds left. Game over. Blackhawks lose 3-2.

“We’ll take tonight to think about it, and we’ll move on,” Hartman said.

On Postgame Live, Jamal Mayers and Adam Burish had some tell-it-like-it-is stuff:

Five Takeaways from Blackhawks' high-scoring loss to Devils: Disappearing act in the second

Five Takeaways from Blackhawks' high-scoring loss to Devils: Disappearing act in the second

Here are Five Takeaways from the Blackhawks’ 7-5 loss to the New Jersey Devils.

1. Disappearing in the second.

The Blackhawks couldn’t have asked for a better first period, when they took a 4-2 lead. But they did a 180 in the second. Part defensive lapses, part New Jersey opportunism, but by the end of the period the Devils were up 6-5. The Blackhawks have had their second-period struggles in the past – and not just relegated to this season – and Patrick Kane’s power-play goal at the end of it took some of the sting away. Still, the Devils were dominant through those 20 minutes.

2. Alex DeBrincat looks good again.

It was a nice weekend for the 19-year-old, who finished with three goals and an assist in the last two games. DeBrincat wasn’t on any specific line – the Blackhawks went with seven defensemen, and we’ll expand upon that in the next takeaway – but no matter who he’s been with, DeBrincat has made things happen.

3. Ryan Hartman scratched.

The Blackhawks changed things up on Sunday, going with seven defensemen. Sitting was Hartman, who didn’t play the final eight-plus minutes against the Carolina Hurricanes, either. Asked if there was something specifically Hartman did or didn’t do, coach Joel Quenneville said, “we just have some guys who are all comparable and we make decisions on who’s in and out of the lineup. And we wanted to try the seven [defensemen] look with double-shifting a couple of guys with Cat whether it was anybody off Arty’s line, particularly Kaner, was the thought process with that.”

4. A bad night for Corey Crawford.

The Blackhawks have the points they do in large part due to Crawford’s work this season. But Sunday was not his night. Crawford was as shaky as the defense in front of him, allowing six goals on 25 shots through the first 40 minutes. Anton Forsberg replaced him to start the third period.

5. Great game for the Devils.

New Jersey could’ve faded late in the first period, when the Blackhawks took a 4-1 lead. Instead the Devils buckled down and outplayed the Blackhawks through the final 40 minutes. We talked about their second period above. They were just as good to start the third, peppering Anton Forsberg with eight shots in the first 2:21 of the period and scoring a power-play goal for a 7-5 lead (Miles Wood completed the hat trick).  

Joel Quenneville's latest line changes: Will they jump-start low-scoring Blackhawks?

Joel Quenneville's latest line changes: Will they jump-start low-scoring Blackhawks?

The Blackhawks’ unveiled their latest forward lines on Thursday, the response to the team struggling to find the same offense they had in their first two games of the season.

“I think we can be better with the puck, more comfortable with it,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “That way you can have the puck in the offensive zone instead of defending it on more shifts than we’d like. But we’ll see.”

And that’s really the point here. Whether the Blackhawks move players up and down the lines, keep lines the same for a while or switch them constantly, the way they play is ultimately what has to improve.

For grins, let’s look at a few of the notable changes:

— Alex DeBrincat gets a chance with the top line, joining Brandon Saad and Jonathan Toews. He’ll still be on the right side — keep in mind DeBrincat played on the left side during most of his time in the Ontario Hockey League.

“On the left I can open up for a one-timer right away. On the right I just gotta find space in the middle and try to have a quick release. That’s the biggest difference,” DeBrincat said.

— Richard Panik moves to the second line with Nick Schmaltz and Patrick Kane, so the line keeps a heavy hitter/net-driving player presence.

— John Hayden moves up to the third line, while Ryan Hartman goes to the fourth line. Breaking up the fourth line, arguably the Blackhawks’ best the last two games, is interesting. But Hayden has been strong from the start of the season and deserves a bump up. Is Hartman getting demoted for recent penalties? Hartman has five minors through the first 10 games this season; last season he had five minors in his first 33 games.

“With him, that’s an ongoing challenge, knowing the balance, the attention with the referees and the way the game’s being called,” Quenneville said. “You gotta be aware, and I think he knows the limitations and boundaries and scrutiny.”

But back to the Blackhawks’ overall game. From puck possession to zone time to shot opportunities, the Blackhawks aren’t getting enough. So no matter how things stack up among the lines, their usual strong suits have to return.

“We definitely need to switch up. Fresh ideas can be good. But to me, playing in the offensive zone, being relentless on the puck, bringing the puck to the net, (we have to) do all the little things better and score ugly goals,” Artem Anisimov said. “If you can make a play, make the play. If you have a lane to the net, bring the puck to the net.”

The Blackhawks gave these lines a solid chance. The changes could help stoke the offense, but no matter how you arrange the personnel, the Blackhawks have to get back to the game that’s always worked for them.

“We haven’t generated much 5-on-5,” Quenneville said. “We’d like to have some predictability for longer stretches but on a need basis, sometimes change can be good.”