Blackhawks

Five takeaways from Blackhawks loss to Capitals: Changes coming?

blackhawks_capitals.jpg
USA TODAY

Five takeaways from Blackhawks loss to Capitals: Changes coming?

Here are five takeaways from the Blackhawks' 6-2 loss to the Washington Capitals on Wednesday night:

1. Anton Forsberg yanked for Jean-Francois Berube.

The Blackhawks had a fine start to the game, recording six of the first seven shots, but they dug themselves a big hole before they knew what hit them.

The Capitals scored three goals in a span of 3:28, which forced Joel Quenneville to replace Anton Forsberg in favor of Jean-Francois Berube, who made his Blackhawks debut after being recalled from the Rockford IceHogs on Friday when Corey Crawford was placed on injured reserve.

It was evident Forsberg wasn't on top of his game when he let a 35-foot wrist shot by Tom Wilson sneak underneath his pad for the second goal. Forsberg allowed three goals on 10 shots (.700 save percentage) while Berube finished with 12 saves on 14 shots (.857 save percentage).

2. Blackhawks can't contain Washington's top line.

At least one player from the Capitals' top line of Nicklas Backstrom, Alex Ovechkin and Wilson contributed to the six goals they scored on the Blackhawks. The trio combined for four goals and seven assists, and registered 11 of the team's 25 shots on goal.

They were the only three Washington forwards that finished with positive possession numbers, and the Blackhawks simply had no answer.

3. Missed opportunity in Period 2.

The Blackhawks were outshooting the Capitals 15-1 in the second period, and Berube didn't face his first shot of the frame until Ovechkin fired a wrist shot with 6:22 left. But the Blackhawks couldn't capitalize, and they again found themselves in a sticky situation.

Lance Bouma committed an interference penalty with 2:41 left, and the Capitals peppered five shots on goal over the next 1:13 on the power play, with the fifth one finding the back of the net thanks to Brett Connolly burying home a rebound shot from Ovechkin.

The Blackhawks had about 14 minutes to make it a one-goal game and convert on multiple scoring chances but couldn't, while the Capitals needed a little more than a minute to put the game out of reach 4-1. It showed the disparity between the two teams on offense.

4. Power play stays dry.

The Blackhawks changed up their power play structure, but the results stayed the same. Entering 1-for-17 in their last four games, the Blackhawks came up empty on all four of their opportunities and it was a momentum killer.

This is a team that hasn't gotten timely scoring during their five-game losing streak, and when you're not generating any type of momentum on the power play, it's hard to pick up the slack 5-on-5 when they're struggling in that area with quality scoring chances as it is.

5. Changes coming?

We've seen Quenneville use just about every line combination as he continues to search for some offensive inconsistency up front, and the latest changes may have made things worse. It got to a point in the third period where you couldn't even keep track of the lines. Nothing clicked.

So could changes be coming? At some point, the Blackhawks have to find a way to get Vinnie Hinostroza up with the big club despite the waiver hurdles that stand in the way. It also wouldn't be surprising to see messages sent in the form of healthy scratches.

Luckily for the Blackhawks, the Buffalo Sabres, who have only two wins in their last 13 games, are next up on the slate. If things go sideways in that one, it won't be a pretty sight at the United Center.

Blakchawks Talk Podcast: What should the Blackhawks be asking for this holiday season?

collie.jpg
USA TODAY

Blakchawks Talk Podcast: What should the Blackhawks be asking for this holiday season?

On the latest Hawks Talk podcast, Pat Boyle, Steve Konroyd and Charlie Roumeliotis discuss Corey Crawford's concussion, Henri Jokiharju leaving the team to play in World Juniors, how the Blackhawks defensemen stack up, and what gift do the Blackhawks need this holiday season?

01:30 Corey Crawford's concussion

04:00 You can't use Crawford's injury as an excuse this season

06:10 Hawks able to get a look at Collin Delia

07:00 Henri Jokiharju to play for Finland in World Juniors

10:30 Erik Gustafsson's potential

14:00 Strome and Kane playing on the same line

17:00 What have the guys seen from Dylan Sikura

21:30 Tough back to back games at Dallas and Colorado

24:30 Guys give their holiday gift to the Blackhawks

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below:

Blackhawks Talk Podcast

Subscribe:

Four takeaways: Blackhawks turn in complete effort, wrap up homestand with win

Four takeaways: Blackhawks turn in complete effort, wrap up homestand with win

Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 2-1 win over the Nashville Predators at the United Center on Sunday:

1. The Full 60

The Blackhawks have been preaching playing a full 60 minutes ever since Jeremy Colliton took over as head coach. Heck, even before then. And they turned in arguably their most complete effort under their new head coach against a Predators team that came in tied for second in the NHL with 46 points.

Even more impressive, the Blackhawks shut the door in the final 40:33 and gave up one or fewer goals for the first time since Nov. 18 in a 3-1 victory over Minnesota — a span of 15 games. Cam Ward was a big reason for that, stopping 30 of 31 shots for a save percentage of .968 to pick up his first win in almost a month.

It was a well-deserved win for the Blackhawks, who earned five out of a possible eight points during their four-game homestand.

"I thought our guys competed and worked really hard all 60 minutes," Ward said. "Defensively we didn’t give them a whole lot and it’s a credit to the guys for the way that they played. We kept it much more simple and executed and, to be quite honest, we could have had more goals if it wasn’t for [Pekka] Rinne. He made some big saves and it was tight right till the end."

2. Contributions from the back end

With Henri Jokiharju being loaned to Finland for the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship, a void opened up on the Blackhawks blue line. But with that comes opportunity for others.

Gustav Forsling, who returned after missing six games with a shoulder injury, scored his second of the season to put the Blackhawks on the board at the 15:22 mark of the second period. And 1:54 later, Erik Gustafsson made it 2-1 when he scored 17 seconds into a power play.

Despite deserving better fate in the first period, the Blackhawks stayed with it and responded with two goals and outshot the Predators 16-7 in the middle frame to hand Nashville its first loss of the season when leading after one period (10-1-0).

"We always want to score," Forsling said. "But I think the most important thing is not to get scored on and we did a good job at that too."

3. A strong start spoiled

The last time the Blackhawks clashed with the Predators, they allowed three goals in the first 4:11. It wasn't great.

Perhaps motivated by revenge, the Blackhawks were ready to play from the moment the puck dropped this time around, outshooting the Predators 12-11 and generating 13 scoring chances, according to naturalstattrick.com, in the opening frame. But the Predators spoiled their good start when Kevin Fiala scored with 32.2 seconds left.

It's the 15th straight game the Blackhawks allowed a first-period goal, although this is one they can't get too worked up about.

'"We talked about it before: we've got to be ready," Gustafsson said. "Nashville's a great team. We know they're going to come out hard. Right from the start, we battled hard, we stuck together as a team and when we [got] tired, we stuck together in front of [Ward]. It was a team win tonight."

4. Alex DeBrincat is in good company

The Blackhawks celebrated a birthday on Tuesday, with DeBrincat turning 21 years of age. It's weird to think he's only 21, but at the same time it feels like he's been around for a while now and has become part of the core. 

There are only six players in Blackhawks history who have scored more goals than him before turning 21: 
— Eddie Olczyk (65 in 228 games)
— Jeremy Roenick (58 in 146 games)
— Jonathan Toews (58 in 146 games)
— Bobby Hull (55 in 177 games)
— Denis Savard (54 in 129 games)
— Patrick Kane (53 in 181 games)

Of those seven players, DeBrincat ranks fourth in goals-per-game (.362). And the best is yet to come.

"It's a nice weapon to have in your lineup," Colliton said. "He's probably exceeded expectations that people had for him when he first came to training camp a year and a half ago. But there's no reason why he can't keep getting better."

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Blackhawks easily on your device.