Blackhawks

Four takeaways: Blackhawks playoff hopes all but over after loss to Coyotes

Four takeaways: Blackhawks playoff hopes all but over after loss to Coyotes

Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 1-0 loss to the Arizona Coyotes at Gila River Arena on Tuesday:

1. Dagger?

The Blackhawks had three critical matchups this past week: at Colorado, vs. Colorado and at Arizona. They needed to pick up at least four points to legitimately stay in the playoff hunt because both of those teams were ahead of them in the standings. Instead, they earned only two and allowed the Avalanche and Coyotes to combine for five of six points.

With the regulation loss, the Blackhawks went to bed on Tuesday five points out of the second wildcard spot in the Western Conference with six games remaining and three teams to jump. Their postseason hopes are all but over at this point.

2. Running out of gas

For the sixth straight game, the Blackhawks scored two goals or fewer. They've found the back of the net just nine times over that span and were shut out for the first time since Nov. 10 and third this season. While secondary scoring has been a challenge for most of the year, it's the horses that haven't gotten it done as of late.

Patrick Kane has been held off the scoresheet in seven of his past 14 games after recording at least a point in 20 straight and has one goal in his last 12 games. Alex DeBrincat has two goals in his past 12 games and is on a five-game point drought, which is now the longest of his NHL career. Dylan Strome is also pointless in five straight and goalless in 10 straight.

It starts and ends with the Blackhawks' top players. But to be fair, they carried a huge load all season long and it appears they've simply run out of gas down the stretch. All those heavy minutes add up, and when you're in a must-win situation for the final month, it's taxing both mentally and physically. This is why having depth is so important.

3. Penalty kill reaching all-time bad level

The Blackhawks' power play is in a nasty drought after it was scorching for months. We know that. But all season long the team hasn't been able to put together a strong stretch on the penalty kill, and it can't go unnoticed even during a time where lack of scoring is the focal point.

After giving up another power play goal, the Blackhawks' penalty kill percentage dropped to 73.1. If that number holds, it would be the worst percentage since 1988-89 when the Toronto Maple Leafs had a 72.7 percent kill rate. That was 30 years ago.

The Blackhawks' power play has bailed out the defensive struggles countless times this season. The same can't be said for the penalty kill. There needs to be a reciprocation when one isn't clicking, and it's been far too one-sided this season.

4. A low-risk game

In the first meeting on Oct. 18, the Blackhawks and Coyotes combined for five goals, 65 scoring chances and 28 high-danger chances, according to naturalstattrick.com. In the second on March 11 they combined for eight goals (the Blackhawks had seven of them), 41 scoring chances and 21 high-danger chances.

In the third? They combined for one goal, 42 scoring chances and 19 high-danger chances. But 24 of the 42 scoring chances and 13 of the 19 high-danger chances came in the third period. It was clearly a defensive battle between two teams that were focused on not giving up much and not making mistakes. Once the Coyotes scored, the game finally opened up. It must be close to playoff time.

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Calvin de Haan reinjures right shoulder and Blackhawks say 'it's not good'

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AP

Calvin de Haan reinjures right shoulder and Blackhawks say 'it's not good'

The Blackhawks have been plagued by injuries as of late and they lost another key defenseman in Tuesday's 5-1 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights.

In the waning minutes of the first period, Calvin de Haan took a hit in the neutral zone from Mark Stone, who was penalized for interference on the play, then fell awkwardly and immediately went to the locker room. The Blackhawks later ruled de Haan out for the remainder of the game with a right shoulder injury, which is the same shoulder he had surgery on in the offseason that sidelined him for four-to-six months.

Head coach Jeremy Colliton told reporters after the game de Haan will travel back to Chicago for further evaluation and early indications are "it's not good."

It's unfortunate news for both de Haan and the Blackhawks, who are already without Duncan Keith (groin) and Olli Maatta (flu-like symptoms) on the back end. If de Haan is out for an extended period of time, which appears likely, the Blackhawks' defensive depth will be tested in a significant way considering de Haan took on bigger minutes in Keith's absence.

The Blackhawks brought eight defensemen on the three-game road trip, including top defenseman prospect Adam Boqvist, so a call-up isn't needed unless the team feels it needs an extra one with the uncertainty surrounding Maatta.

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3 Takeaways: Blackhawks lose 5-1 against Golden Knights

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USA Today

3 Takeaways: Blackhawks lose 5-1 against Golden Knights

The Blackhawks lost 5-1 to the Vegas Golden Knights on Tuesday. Here are three takeaways:

Point streak ends

The Blackhawks' point streak stayed in Vegas. Chicago had grabbed points in three straight and five out of a possible six heading into Sin City.

Dominik Kubalik scored the lone goal for the Hawks on a power play with 27 seconds remaining in the game and Corey Crawford saved 32 of 37 shots, but Chicago couldn't get much going down a man to start the second period. 

The Hawks beat the Knights 5-3 in their last matchup on Nov. 13, also in Vegas, for the first Blackhawks franchise win over the Golden Knights.

Tough times for Hawks' D

Blackhawks defenseman Calvin de Haan left Tuesday's game late in the first period with a right shoulder injury following a hit from Mark Stone. It's the same shoulder de Haan had surgery on in the offseason, sidelining him for several months.

"He'll go back to Chicago to be evaluated," Hawks head coach Jeremy Colliton said following the game. "It's not good." The Hawks face the Coyotes in Arizona on Thursday and the Blues in St. Louis on Saturday to close out the three-game road trip.

Chicago was already without Duncan Keith (groin injury) on the road trip and Olli Maatta has missed the past four games with flu-like symptoms. 

How bad they were missing three of their everyday defensemen, most recently de Haan, showed in the second period. Entering the frame 0-0, without de Haan in the rotation, the Hawks allowed three unanswered goals in the second: a power-play goal, an even strength goal and a shorthanded goal. The shorty came with 44 seconds remaining in the period.

"The next man in has to step up," defenseman Connor Murphy said after the game. "As a team, you're going to have a lot of ups and downs throughout the year and stuff like that is going to happen. The next guy's got to be ready to play and we believe we have players that are good enough to make that impact and step up when there's injuries."

Defenseman Adam Boqvist was recalled from the Rockford IceHogs of the AHL on Monday, where he's been since recording one goal in six games with the Hawks (Nov. 3-13). Boqvist has to accelerate his growth in adjusting to the big league and contribute on both sides of the puck if he wants to stick in Chicago and help the Blackhawks out of a tough situation.

The 19-year-old blueliner is a great skater with an excellent shot he needs to use. He has to make quicker decisions with the puck in his own end. A turnover from Boqvist led to Vegas' second goal. Deryk Engelland snagged the puck after Boqvist failed to set up a zone exit off the boards and skated to right faceoff circle to make it 2-0 at 11:24 of the second. Boqvist was also caught facing Corey Crawford, all alone in front of the crease for Vegas' fifth goal, this time from Ryan Reaves.

Saad-Toews-Kubalik

Brandon Saad, Jonathan Toews and Dominik Kubalik made up the most dangerous Hawks line by far in Vegas. The trio spent some time in the offensive zone and generated a lot of quality looks. 

They're an interesting combination as all of them are defensively responsible forwards that have been a little snake-bitten overall this season. Seeing the chances they're able to create in a tough game, expect them to stick together. 

Toews leads the line in points with 18 (six goals, 12 assists) and Saad in goals with eight. Kubalik has goals in back-to-back games.

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