Blackhawks

Four takeaways: Blackhawks turn in another clunker against Sharks

Four takeaways: Blackhawks turn in another clunker against Sharks

Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 4-2 loss to the San Jose Sharks at SAP Center on Tuesday:

1. Blackhawks finish road trip same way they started

The Blackhawks kicked off their four-game road trip with a forgettable 3-0 loss to Nashville in which they were outshot 51-20. They followed that up by coming away with three of four points against Los Angeles and Anaheim and put themselves in a position to return home with five out of a possible six points on the California swing.

But the Blackhawks turned in another clunker against a Sharks team that was sitting in the basement of the Western Conference. The Blackhawks were outplayed in every category, including shot attempts (58-38), shots on goal (32-21), even-strength scoring chances (20-16) and even-strength high-danger chances (9-6) to finish the road trip the same way they started: in embarrassing fashion.

2. A battle between two vulnerable teams

The Sharks entered Tuesday's matchup ranked 27th in goals per game (2.40) and 28th in goals against per game (3.73). They had also lost five straight in regulation and were outscored 22-8 over that stretch. This is a team that was vulnerable.

But so were the Blackhawks, who were outshot 32-21 by the Sharks and have been outshot 209-131 over their last five games for a differential of -78.

3. Where is the offense?

The most alarming part of this Blackhawks season is the fact that the offense simply hasn't been there. They had only three shots on goal at the midway mark of the game and were on the verge of being shut out for the third time in six games before Brandon Saad and Duncan Keith scored two goals in 1:08 in the final three minutes of regulation.

It's one thing to give up a lot of shots and scoring chances, but it's even worse when you're not generating any of your own as well. The Blackhawks are struggling to find their way on both ends of the ice right now.

4. Top-six goes quiet

The first line of Alex Nylander, Brandon Saad and Jonathan Toews and second line of Alex DeBrincat, Patrick Kane and Dylan Strome each had positive possession numbers at even strength against Anaheim, but the top-six didn't do its part against San Jose.

The Saad-Toews-Nylander trio had just one shot attempt for and nine against at 5-on-5 while the DeBrincat-Strome-Kane line had four shot attempts four and 14 against, according to Natural Stat Trick. The Blackhawks need their top guys to play like it if they want to turn their fortunes around quickly.

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Struggling Blackhawks still trying to find a path forward

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AP

Struggling Blackhawks still trying to find a path forward

ST. LOUIS — One year ago today, the Blackhawks were enjoying an off-day after snapping their second eight-game losing streak of the season with a 6-3 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins. Adjustments were still being made under new head coach Jeremy Colliton, but there was at least some optimism that light would be at the end of the tunnel once they all got on the same page.

The Blackhawks have an off-day on Friday, but they’re in a much different place this time around. And not in a good way.

After losing for the ninth time in 12 games (3-7-2) and third straight (0-2-1), the Blackhawks are making standings watching irrelevant in Chicago in a year where it shouldn’t be. Their playoff chances are slipping away quicker than an odd-man rush and nobody wants to start looking ahead to the 2020 NHL Draft class because they shouldn’t be in this position again.

The inconsistency issues are real, the injuries continue to mount, the losses are getting uglier and the schedule is only getting tougher. The Blackhawks aren’t just losing hockey games. They’re not even giving themselves a chance. 

In their last six losses, the Blackhawks have been outscored 29-11 for a minus-18 goal differential. They’ve given up at least five goals in four of them and have one regulation win since Nov. 17.

And it’s hard to see how it can get better.

The easiest in-season change to make when a team with playoff expectations is underperforming is to change the voice and message the players are listening to. But the Blackhawks played that card last season.

In 2015-16, the Blackhawks deservedly earned a pass for running out of gas in the first round after coming off a season in which they captured a third Stanley Cup in six years.

In 2016-17, the Blackhawks called being swept in the first round by Nashville as the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference a "wake-up call" and promised changes.

In 2017-18, the Blackhawks pointed to Corey Crawford’s season-ending injury in December as a reason for their second-half spiral.

In 2018-19, the Blackhawks preached patience after making a coaching change for the first time in 10 years.

In 2019-20, there is no excuse. The Blackhawks had another long offseason to get it right and Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews were coming off career statistical seasons at age 30. The roster is better but the product on the ice hasn’t changed.

The tide eventually might turn for the Blackhawks, but right now it's difficult to see a path for how it will.

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Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Robin Lehner calls out team defense plus Mike Gapski on his 2500 games with the Blackhawks

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USA Today

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Robin Lehner calls out team defense plus Mike Gapski on his 2500 games with the Blackhawks

Another night and another awful showing by the Blackhawks team defense, and this time, Robin Lehner let the team hear about it. Pat Boyle, Adam Burish and Scott King discuss the Blackhawks' ugly loss to the Coyotes and whether there should be some more line mixing happening soon. Plus, head athletic trainer Mike Gapski took part in his 2500th game with the Blackhawks and he sat down with Pat Foley 1-on-1 to re-live his 33 years with the organization.

1:13 - The odd-man rushes are piling up against this defense

5:54 - Is the power play getting going kinda maybe a little bit?

7:43 - Should Jeremy Colliton mix up the lines once again?

9:20 - The Kirby Dach playing-time dilemma

13:45 - Celebrating Mike Gapski's 2500 games with the Blackhawks

17:00 - Pat Foley's 1-on-1 interview with Mike Gapski

Listen here or via the embedded player below:

Blackhawks Talk Podcast

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Attention Dish and Sling customers! You have lost your Blackhawks games on NBC Sports Chicago. To switch providers, visit mysportschicago.com.

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.