Blackhawks

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Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 6-0 preseason loss to the Washington Capitals at the United Center on Wednesday:

1. Offense, power play dries up

The top power play unit was one of the bright spots last season when Jeremy Colliton took over, but it had a rough night against the Capitals. The Blackhawks were 0-for-4 with the man advantage and even allowed a shorthanded goal in the second period when Tom Wilson roofed one past Corey Crawford, who gave up six goals on 26 shots for a save percentage of .769.

It’s difficult to put too much stock into preseason games, but the Blackhawks want to hit the ground running on Oct. 4 and have some confidence in all areas of their game. This was a step back. 

"That's got to light a fire for us," Jonathan Toews said. "Even if you don't have your jump, you don't have your legs, you don't have your speed, which was obvious tonight, we got to find ways to be better and maintain puck control, make some simple plays, keep it in their end, just simplify.

"We'll flush that one, but at the same time, that's got to be a wake up call. It's good that it happens now so we can wake up and get going, get our speed, get our legs going and start playing with a little more energy, a little more just wanting the puck in certain areas. We can carry that one with us for sure."

 

2. Adam Boqvist moved up, Erik Gustafsson bumped down

Colliton made an in-game adjustment with his defensive pairings, moving Boqvist to the top pairing with Duncan Keith and bumping Gustafsson to the third pairing with Slater Koekkoek on several occasions. Gustafsson was on the ice for the shorthanded goal by Wilson and was then outmuscled by Lars Eller on the fourth goal, which led to the switch.

Boqvist took a spin with Keith after each of those goals against sequences, then started the third period on the top pairing and finished the game there.

"We wanted to play him a little more," Colliton said of Boqvist. "I think he had his moments where he was really good and he had his moments where he struggled defensively. But that was where he fit in with the rest of the team."

3. Snap judgements

— The second line of Alex DeBrincat, Patrick Kane and Dylan Strome didn't have a bad night but they didn't have a great one either. The trio was on the ice for five shot attempts for and four against, and two scoring chances for and three against in 11:37 of 5-on-5 action, according to Natural Stat Trick. 

— Dominik Kubalik registered eight shot attempts and led all skaters with five shots on goal. He and David Kampf were the only two Blackhawks who weren’t on the ice for a goal against. It sure seems like Kubalik has solidified a spot on the Opening Night roster.

4. Off to Berlin

The Blackhawks were originally scheduled to practice on Thursday morning before they depart for Europe, but instead will use it as a day off. It's a good opportunity to regroup, get off the skates and start fresh overseas, beginning with the exhibition game on Sept. 29 in Berlin.

GM Stan Bowman said after morning skate on Wednesday that they'll make a final decision on which players will come on the trip after the game. The roster current sits at 30 players, and they're expected to bring more than 23 as insurance — the question is how many. It also serves as another chance for some of the bubble guys to make an impression before the team heads back to the states.

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