Hawks Insider

10 observations: Hawks fall in opener

/ by Charlie Roumeliotis
Presented By Nationwide Insurance Agent Jeff Vukovich
Hawks Insider
Kirby Dach

DENVER — The Blackhawks fell to the Colorado Avalanche 4-2 at Ball Arena on Wednesday to open the 2021-22 season.

Here are 10 observations from the loss:

1. The Blackhawks got off to a brutal start. In the first period alone, the Avalanche outscored Chicago 3-1 and led in shot attempts (28-16), shots on goal (19-8), even-strength scoring chances (13-2) and even-strength high-danger chances (4-0), according to Natural Stat Trick.

2. The power play stopped the bleeding in the final minutes of the first period when Dominik Kubalik scored on an absolute missile of a shot from 49-feet out. The Blackhawks went 1-for-3 on the man advantage and generated eight shot attempts, four shots on goal, and three scoring chances on their three opportunities.

3. Seth Jones had a tough debut for the Blackhawks and he'd be the first to tell you that. The Avalanche outshot (18-10), out-chanced (23-4) and outscored (2-0) the Blackhawks when Jones was on the ice during 5-on-5 action.

4. Kirby Dach was arguably Chicago's best player, but he's going to lose sleep over the missed chances he had. In a 3-1 deficit late in the second period, Dach was denied by Darcy Kuemper on a shorthanded breakaway and then again on the very next shift on a high-quality opportunity. The Avalanche scored shortly after and essentially put the game out of reach at 4-1.

5. The Blackhawks did not generate a single 5-on-5 high-danger chance in the first two periods. They had three of them in the third period, but it was too little too late.

6. The Blackhawks fell to 0-3-0 in their last three season openers. It doesn’t help that they faced the defending Stanley Cup champions and preseason favorites in back-to-back openers.

7. This was a chippy game and probably why the Blackhawks added size over the offseason, to compete in games like this. Brandon Hagel took a few big hits. Same with Dach and Alex DeBrincat, who appeared to injure his wrist in the final minutes of the game but returned for the last shift.

8. Jonathan Toews played in his first meaningful hockey game in 421 games but it didn't look like it. He won 16 of 24 faceoffs for a win percentage of 66.7 and logged 17:15 of ice time. 

9. One thing players desperately want is consistent officiating. They didn't get that in this game, on both ends. 

10. Avalanche star Nathan MacKinnon did not play after he tested positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday. But it didn't matter. Colorado is loaded offensively and we saw why it's the favorite to come out of the Western Conference this season.

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