Four takeaways: Frustration growing for Blackhawks after fifth straight loss


Four takeaways: Frustration growing for Blackhawks after fifth straight loss

ANAHEIM — Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 4-2 loss to the Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center on Wednesday:

1. Two goals in 20 seconds

The Blackhawks keep saying that they need to get out to better starts. But they're not doing it.

After admitting to not being ready at the start of games, it showed again when the Ducks came out flying — no pun intended — and scored two goals within 20 seconds and outshot the Blackhawks 12-1 past the midway mark of the first period. 

It's the eighth straight game the Blackhawks have allowed the first goal, an alarming trend that isn't a coincidence at this point.

"I thought we had a decent start, the first shift aside," coach Jeremy Colliton said. "We had a pretty good start and we're down again, so that was tough. But maybe stopped playing a couple minutes after that, after we went down, but as the first period went on, we showed some life again. The second period was excellent. I don’t think they’re better than us, just the puck went in the net. Frustrating."

2. Fighting back

When you fall down 2-0, the next goal is always crucial. Because once it reaches a three-goal deficit, the game feels out of reach.

But the Blackhawks made sure their first-period struggles didn't spill into the second period when Erik Gustafsson buried home a terrific pass from Duncan Keith for his fourth goal in seven games after being a healthy scratch on Sunday for the first time this season. It gave the Blackhawks some life.

And then with 27.7 seconds left in the period, Alex DeBrincat evened it up at 2-2 when he corralled a Jonathan Toews pass and swatted it past John Gibson while falling over. The goals that come at the end of periods tend to be backbreakers for teams. The Ducks ultimately responded by scoring the go-ahead goal in the third period and never looked back.

"Tonight was as good an effort as we probably have had since I’ve been here," Colliton said. "It’s frustrating not to get the points, but nothing to do but keep digging and keep playing."

3. Four posts

Things aren't going the Blackhawks' way. And when that happens, usually you don't get the bounces you want. You have to earn them.

The Blackhawks hit the post four times against the Ducks, and were close to breaking through on each of them. That's how close they were to earning at least a point.

"It's frustrating," DeBrincat said. "We did a lot of good things, hit a few posts, could've went in ... a few inches the other way it's in the net. Can't do anything about it, but we're getting closer to the result we want. We just got to find a way to win some games."

4. Power play regression

When Colliton was hired to be the head coach of the Blackhawks, he immediately put a heavy emphasis on fixing the power play. It's one of the first things he worked on. At the time, it wasn't about results, it was about focusing on getting reps and developing patterns.

They made a little bit of progress, but the power play is 1-for-19 in the past eight games and has appeared to regress. They did record five shots on goal on three opportunities, but the results simply haven't been there.

"I think when Jeremy first came in it really got better and then it's kind of taken a step back or two the past few games," Patrick Kane said. "It'd be nice to all get on the same page, get some confidence. You see around the league there's a lot of power play goals that are scored just off converging at the net and getting that middle guy there, and hopefully banging some pucks that way. So try to do what we can, make the right plays and go out there with confidence."

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Patrick Kane wins Shooting Stars Challenge after receiving boos from St. Louis crowd


Patrick Kane wins Shooting Stars Challenge after receiving boos from St. Louis crowd

Patrick Kane has still got it.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Kane won the Shooting Stars Challenge Friday night in St. Louis. The game was basically Top Golf for hockey with the players shooting at targets on the ice from elevation in the stands.

Kane finished with 22 points in the first round, which tied him for the lead.

He later took the win.

When Kane was introduced he routinely was on the end of some loud boos from the rival St. Louis crowd. Kane had the last laugh.

Why NHL All-Star appearances never get old for Patrick Kane

Why NHL All-Star appearances never get old for Patrick Kane

ST. LOUIS — Patrick Kane is in his 13th NHL season and he's participating in his ninth career All-Star Game this weekend, which is the most of any player that's attending. And both of those numbers will continue to go up.

But don't tell Kane that. He may be 31, but he sure doesn't feel like he's the old guy around here.

"I don’t want to be considered the Old Man," Kane said during Thursday's Media Day session. "I’m still only 31 years old. Obviously there’s a lot of young talent in the NHL and a lot of guys I like to watch playing and that I recognize are really good players, so it’s fun to meet them and talk to them and just talk about your seasons and your team and what’s going on around the league. I feel like I’m just another hockey player."

To Kane, he's just another hockey player. But to others around the league, he's more than that.

Twenty of the 44 All-Stars this season are participating in their first one and many of them have idolized Kane growing up.

Quinn Hughes, who played with Kane for Team USA at the 2019 IIHF World Championship, is one of them. Even as a defenseman, Hughes watched Kane every chance he would get as a kid.

"Yeah, thanks Quinn," Kane said with a smile. "I feel a little bit older now, so thanks."

But even though Kane is one of the older players here, he doesn't take it for granted. He attends every year because it's a good opportunity to represent the Blackhawks and the NHL, and it's also a chance to pay it forward.

“I can remember Joe Thornton being in the locker room, that was pretty cool to see him,” Kane said of who he was excited to meet at his first All-Star appearance. “I remember when I was in Ottawa, I was preparing for that little breakaway challenge ... and I had to go to the rink that morning to practice some of it and see how it’d all come together. And I remember [Pavel] Datsyuk coming to the rink as well and he got on the bike and just worked out. It was just me and him on this big bus and then whoever else we had with us.”

Each All-Star Game stands out for Kane. And now he’s looking to create more memories.

On Friday, Kane will participate in the “Shooting Stars Challenge,” where players will shoot pucks at a variety of targets from the stands. It’s the first time the NHL is incorporating this event into the competition.

On Saturday, Kane hopes to be on the winning side of the 3-on-3 All-Star Game because the Central Division has yet to win it since the format changed in 2016. 

“All of them have their own memories,” Kane said. “You look back on Montreal was my first one, Ottawa had the Superman thing, LA was the top 100, even Columbus we had like five of us there, or six of us. Each of them have their own memory. It’s one of things where, when you’re done playing, you look back and say, ‘I went to this many All-Star Games.’ That’s where my head’s at right there.”

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