Blackhawks

Four takeaways: Blackhawks dig too big of a hole in season-opening loss to Flyers

Four takeaways: Blackhawks dig too big of a hole in season-opening loss to Flyers

PRAGUE — Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 4-3 season-opening loss to the Philadelphia Flyers at O2 Arena on Friday as part of the 2019 NHL Global Series:

1. Leaky defense reminiscent of 2018-19

The Blackhawks gave up the second-most goals in the league last season and had the 31st-ranked penalty kill. Something they're putting a heavy emphasis on this season is to survive on defense when they're not at their best, particularly limiting the high volume and high quality of shots.

But, as Friday indicated, it's still a work in progress.

The Blackhawks allowed 38 shots on goal, 31 scoring chances at 5-on-5 and 12 high-danger chances, according to Natural Stat Trick. It felt a lot like last season where opponents took full advantage of self-inflicted wounds.

"Ultimately we just didn't manage the puck well," coach Jeremy Colliton said. "We turned way too many pucks over and that's where we exposed ourselves defensively. There's going to be times in the game where it's not going your way. I don't think we made many plays, especially in the second period.

"We had our moments in the first where we were good and then I think we had our moments in the third. You ideally kind of ride it out when things aren't going your way and then you can win the game when you're good again. Ultimately, when we were good again, we were trying to dig out of a two-goal hole. So that's, to me, the tale of it."

2. A tough ending to fun trip

The Blackhawks spent nine days in Europe and it served as a great bonding experience for a roster that's added a lot of new faces in the offseason. But they also came here to start off the season on the right foot and that's with two points.

That didn't happen. 

The Blackhawks will return to Chicago empty-handed but are looking forward to the opportunity that lies ahead with seven consecutive games at the United Center.

"It's been a good trip," Jonathan Toews said. "We've spent a lot of time together, getting to know each other, a lot of new guys. So, disappointed with the fact that we couldn't find a way to win today, got ourselves behind a little bit, maybe lagging in the second period a little bit ended up hurting us, but we're seeing a lot of positives, a lot of things we can build on. We'll be excited to get home and take advantage of the home ice coming up here."

3. Patrick Kane honest about three-point night

After recording a career-high 110 points last season, Kane picked up right where he left off to open the 2019-20 campaign. He scored a goal and added two assists in 21:28 of ice time, and tied former teammate Dustin Byfuglien for most points (seven) in NHL history in games played in Europe.

But Kane is also his biggest critic. He was on the ice for six scoring chances for and 19 against at 5-on-5 and didn't feel like he played his best even though he turned in a three-point outing. He was honest about that, although that's what makes Kane great: even when he's not at his best, he seemingly still fills up the scoresheet.

"I think there's always things to improve upon," Kane said. "Preseason [and] regular season's always a little bit different, and for some reason every year it takes me a little bit to get into the game so whatever the numbers were tonight I still feel like I could give more to the team and can create more and have the puck a little bit more out there too, so just keep building here."

4. One game at a time mentality

While they're disappointed about not bringing a win back to Chicago, the Blackhawks are trying not to sulk too much on the losses and get too high on the wins. Especially the season opener, which can feel like a tone-setter.

"You get jacked up for that first one and you're excited and you want to come out and start the season off with a bang, but good news is there's 81 more," Toews said. "We're going to keep building and really focus on taking this season one game at a time."

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Patrick Kane’s love-hate relationship with St. Louis fans highlight of 2020 NHL All-Star Game

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USA Today

Patrick Kane’s love-hate relationship with St. Louis fans highlight of 2020 NHL All-Star Game

ST. LOUIS — Patrick Kane has been booed all weekend in St. Louis and the nine-time Blackhawks All-Star poked a little bit of fun at Blues fans for their, shall we say, warm welcoming. But Saturday put the crowd in a weird spot.

On one hand, Kane is an arch rival in St. Louis. On the other, he represented the Central Division and was teammates with the four Blues All-Stars (Jordan Binnington, Ryan O'Reilly, David Perron and Alex Pietrangelo).

After falling into a 3-0 hole to the Pacific Division, the Central Division stormed back for three straight goals. Perron scored the second goal, which drew huge cheers. Fourteen seconds later, Kane scored the equalizer, which also drew loud cheers. 

But then the St. Louis fans realized who had scored and Kane had some fun with them by holding his glove up to his ear. 

"Tried to like put my hand up to my ear to hear the boos," Kane said. "But then I was showing them that hey, I’m playing with the Blues players, I’ve got the same jersey as them. Just had fun with it. "

The Blues found themselves conflicted for a second time when Kane evened the score at 5-5 after converting on a breakaway. The interaction between Kane and the crowd was the most memorable moment of the night.

"It’s all in good fun," Kane said following a 10-5 loss to the Pacific Division. "To be honest with you, sometimes you get booed, you kind of like it a little bit. It’s St. Louis and Chicago, it’s a huge rivalry. Not only in hockey, but pretty much every other sport they play against each other. I guess that’s only baseball, but, you know what? Had a lot of fun this weekend and I thought that was a pretty cool moment."

Even the Blues had fun with it.

"Those were boos," a smiling Pietrangelo said. "Not cheers."

But at least somebody had sympathy for Kane.

"I felt bad for Kaner," Blues coach Craig Berube said. "He comes out in his introductions and is getting booed and stuff and then he scores and they're cheering for him. Tough situation for him. Players all know. They all handle it very well. It's a fun event."

In the end, it provided entertainment and brought some life to the event. What Kane is really trying to figure out is why he's snake bitten at All-Stars Games. He hasn't won since 2012 in Ottawa when Team Zdeno Chara defeated Team Daniel Alfredsson 12-9 under the fantasy draft format.

"I know, right?" Kane said. "Central can’t get over the hump. We won one last year and lost in the final. I think every time you look at the roster, you always think you have a really good roster with some of the players that are on the team, and for whatever reason we can’t do it."

The Central Division slipped to 1-5 under the 3-on-3 format, but Kane may have a solution on how to fix their struggles.

"Maybe it would be better if the Central played an Eastern team next year or something," Kane said half-jokingly. "Maybe you could switch it up that way."

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Patrick Kane finishes NHL All-Star Tournament with two goals

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AP

Patrick Kane finishes NHL All-Star Tournament with two goals

Patrick Kane made his ninth NHL All-Star appearance in Saturday's 3-on-3 tournament in St. Louis. It was short-lived, but the superstar forward scored two impressive goals for the Central Division's team before they were eliminated after one game. 

The 31-year-old winger won the inaugural "Shooting Stars" challenge in the Skills Competition on Friday, beating the Blues' Ryan O'Reilly and Maple Leafs' Mitch Marner in sudden death. 

Then, the three-time Stanley Cup champ scored to tie the game 3-3 at 7:18 of the first period for the Central in the semifinal bout against the Pacific on Saturday. Kane kept the puck on a 2-on-1 with Eric Staal and fired it in stick side on goalie Jacob Markstrom. 

He later scored on a breakaway, shooting five-hole on David Rittich to tie it 5-5 at 1:37 of the second period. The Central lost the contest 10-5 and missed out on winning the million dollar prize. 

Kane, who recorded his 1,000th NHL point last Sunday, had four hometown Blues players as teammates: Jordan Binnington, David Perron, Alex Pietrangelo and O'Reilly.

The Atlantic beat the Metropolitan 9-5 in the first semifinal game. Former Blackhawks forward Anthony Duclair had three goals and an assist in the first game of the tourney. Duclair has 33 points (21 goals, 12 assists) in 47 games with the Ottawa Senators this season.

The Pacific beat the Atlantic 5-4 in the final. It was the Pacific's third straight tournament victory. David Pastrnak of the Atlantic (and Boston Bruins) was the MVP of the tournament, winning a 2020 Honda CR-V HYRBRID. 

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