Five takeaways from Blackhawks' 6-1 loss to Coyotes: Time to tank?

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' 6-1 loss to Coyotes: Time to tank?

Here are five takeaways from the Blackhawks' 6-1 loss to the Arizona Coyotes at Gila River Arena on Monday night:

1. Slow start dooms Blackhawks again.

The Blackhawks got off to a slow start and it set the tone for the remainder of the contest for the second straight game.

The Coyotes recorded the first four shots on goal through four-plus minutes, and scored on their second one when Max Domi redirected a shot from the point to put his team in front 1-0. Less than eight minutes later, Clayton Keller capitalized on a Jordan Oesterle turnover and made it 2-0.

The Blackhawks ended up finishing the period by registering 10 of the next 16 shots, but they weren't able to convert on any of their 11 scoring chances.

2. Alex DeBrincat continues strong rookie campaign.

Joel Quenneville moved DeBrincat away from the top line, putting him on the third with Lance Bouma and Tommy Wingels. Not exactly the kind of skilled forwards he's used to playing with.

But he still found a way to make an impact on the scoresheet after scoring his 20th goal of the season on the power play, assisted by new linemate Bouma and Jonathan Toews.

DeBrincat became the third rookie this season to hit the 20-goal mark, joining Yanni Gourde (21) and Brock Boeser (26). He's also the first rookie aged 19 or younger when the season started to reach that feat since Toews and Patrick Kane did it in 2007-08, according to NBC Sports Chicago's stats guru Chris Kamka.

DeBrincat finished with 17 shot attempts and tied a season-high with seven of them on goal in 14:36 of ice time.

3. Rough outing for Anton Forsberg.

On Saturday, it was Jeff Glass who allowed three goals on 19 shots for an .842 save percentage against Minnesota. Forsberg wasn't much better in this one, giving up three goals on 13 shots (.769 save percentage).

And the third goal was hard to swallow. 

Alex Goligoski fired a 34-foot wrist shot from a bad angle outside the faceoff circle and it found a way to sneak past Forsberg, who would certainly have liked to have that one back.

That signaled the end of Forsberg's night, with Glass recording three saves on nine shots (.667 save percentage) in his relief appearance. It hasn't been a great goaltending showing in the last two games for the Blackhawks. Wonder who will get the start in Vegas.

4. Bouma, Wingels being showcased?

The Blackhawks clearly won't be buyers at the trade deadline, as confirmed by GM Stan Bowman to NBC Sports Chicago, but as the season continues to slip away at a rapid rate — if it hasn't already — they certainly will start either shopping or listening to offers on some of their unrestricted free agents. They have to.

Bouma and Wingels fall into that category as potential depth players for a contending team, and it sure felt like they were awarded some ice time to help showcase their talents and what they could bring to the table.

Each of them saw significant time on the power play (Wingels at 4:14, Bouma at 3:48), with Bouma getting a secondary assist on DeBrincat's goal. You could argue they were on the units to provide net-front presence, but it wouldn't have taken this long to give them a look there if it was just that.

5. Should the Blackhawks shut down Corey Crawford?

For the first time since being placed on injured reserve Dec. 27, Crawford met with the media in Arizona after practicing with the team at morning skate in another positive step in his recovery. There's no timetable for his return yet, but he's making progress and the Blackhawks are hopeful he could return perhaps by next week.

With their playoff chances falling to 1.3 percent though following their sixth straight loss, should they just shut him down for the rest of the season? 

If he's 100 percent healthy to come back and the Blackhawks want to use the final month and a half or so to evaluate their team as a whole with their two-time Stanley Cup-winning goaltender anchoring the crease going into an important offseason, let him play. But if the motivation is to get him back just to salvage whatever's left of their playoff hopes, the Blackhawks should consider sitting him and allow him to regroup physically and mentally for the 2018-19 season.

For what it's worth, Quenneville told reporters there hasn't been any discussion pertaining to that possibility so it doesn't appear to be in the plans, unless their mindset changes as the losses continue to quickly pile up.

What changes should Blackhawks make to power play?

USA Today

What changes should Blackhawks make to power play?

In the month of October, no team scored fewer goals than the Blackhawks (25). Since the calendar flipped to November, no team has scored more goals than the Blackhawks (38).

Oh, how things can change in a month.

But the interesting part about the offensive turnaround is the fact the Blackhawks are doing it without having much power play success.

The Blackhawks have had 65 power-play opportunities this season and have converted on only nine of those attempts. That's a 13.8 percent success rate, which ranks 28th in the NHL.

Head coach Jeremy Colliton changed things up at the beginning of the month by dividing the units to spread the wealth rather than overload the first unit, the latter of which worked so well from December and on last season. 

It's time to go back to overloading the first unit.

Erik Gustafsson, who has three goals in his last four games, is finally looking like himself again after a 16-game goal drought to start the season. Patrick Kane is on a 10-game point streak. Alex DeBrincat and Dylan Strome have combined for 19 points (three goals, 16 assists) in the last 10 games. And Jonathan Toews has nine points (three goals, six assists) in November after having only two points (one goal, one assist) in October.

There's a newfound confidence within the group, especially the top players, and reuniting the five of them could translate into power play success. 

And while we're on the subject: It's also time to put Kirby Dach on one of the two power play units.

He has seven points in a five-game point streak and four goals during that span. He's noticeably getting more and more comfortable each game and it's reached the point where giving him more responsibility wouldn't be overwhelming for the 18-year-old, who's ready for more ice time.

The Blackhawks' power play is the one area of their game that hasn't been consistent this season. If they can get it back to the level it was at during the second half of last season, it's scary to think what the ceiling of this team could be because it doesn't look like their 5-on-5 game or elite goaltending will drop off anytime soon.

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Blackhawks receive Joseph Cramarossa from the Penguins in minor league trade

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Blackhawks receive Joseph Cramarossa from the Penguins in minor league trade

The Blackhawks have acquired forward Joseph Cramarossa from the Pittsburgh Penguins for forward Graham Knott in a minor league trade. Cramarossa will report to the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League.

The 27-year-old had three points (two goals, one assist) in nine games with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton this AHL season. Cramarossa was the alternate captain during the 2018-19 in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, playing 56 regular-season games, scoring four goals.

Cramarossa was initially drafted by the Anaheim Ducks in the third round of the 2011 NHL Draft, making his NHL debut on the Ducks in 2016. He played with the Ducks until he was traded to the Vancouver in 2017, playing in 10 games for the Canucks. He signed with Calgary as a free agent in September 2017 before being acquired by the Penguins in February 2018. Throughout seven seasons in the AHL (2013-2019) playing for the Norfolk Admirals, San Diego Gulls, Stockton and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Cramarossa recorded 72 points (32G, 40A) in 294 regular-season games.

Graham Knott is a 22-year-old forward selected by the Blackhawks in the second round of the 2015 NHL draft. Knott had eight goals in 126 career games with the IceHogs. The Blackhawks have now traded their top draft selections from 2017, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011 and 2009. Only Dach (2019), Boqvist (2018) and DeBrincat (2016) remain from this decade.

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