Hawks Insider

Special teams proves to be key in Hawks' loss to Predators

/ by Charlie Roumeliotis
Presented By Nationwide Insurance Agent Jeff Vukovich
Hawks Insider
Derek King

When Derek King took over as Chicago's interim head coach on Nov. 6, the Blackhawks responded by rattling off four straight wins. It was a significant turnaround after they started the season 1-9-2.

Since the four-game winning streak, the Blackhawks haven't lost back-to-back games. But they also have yet to win two in a row.

As King said after Wednesday's 5-4 overtime win over the Washington Capitals, it's been "win one, lose one, win one" for the Blackhawks over the last month. They obviously need to start stringing together some wins to get back into the playoff hunt.

On Friday, the Blackhawks picked up a point but ultimately fell in overtime to a Nashville Predators team that had eight players in COVID-19 protocol. Chicago had previously been 6-0 in overtime and shootouts under King.

"It was just one of those games where it just wasn’t clicking for us," King said following the 3-2 loss. "And that’s the way they play. They trap it up in the neutral zone and they’re hoping for you to get frustrated and start bobbling pucks, and then they transition well. Kind of fed right into what they were trying to do. But on the positive side is we didn’t have a great game and we tie it up, we kept battling. It’s too bad we got the OT loss."

The difference came down to special teams. The Blackhawks allowed multiple goals on the power play for the third time in five games after giving up just one or fewer in their first 24.

 

The Blackhawks also had five power-play opportunities of their own and failed to find the back of the net on any of their chances. All they really needed was just one.

"They played a hard game," said Kirby Dach, who scored his fifth goal of the season. "They play a boring game, they trap you up, there's not a lot of ice out there to make plays. We just didn't stick with it long enough. A couple power plays that we probably should've capitalized on. Sucks not walking away with two points."

The Blackhawks had 8:39 of power-play time and generated six scoring chances, according to Natural Stat Trick. They also had seven shot attempts.

The problem? Only two of those attempts hit the net. Three of the shots were blocked and the other two missed the net.

"As players that are on it, we've got to take more pride in it and go out there with a 5-on-5 mentality and be ready to execute and put away games," Dach said. "We had five chances tonight and none of them found the back of the net, so we've got to find a way to improve on that and hopefully games will start falling our way."

The Blackhawks get right back at it against the Dallas Stars on Saturday, who have a pretty solid special teams unit. They rank No. 5 in power-play percentage (25.7) and 15th in penalty kill percentage (80.5).

The Stars have lost five straight in regulation since their seven-game winning streak, so there's an opportunity for the Blackhawks to get back on track against a struggling team.

"It’s good to rebound from something like this where we were flat," King said. "I mean, hey, we got a point out of this and we’ll take any point we can get, especially when we’re playing a little flat or we’re off. So that’s a great point for us, we’ll take it. Now we take that into Dallas and hopefully we’re not flat and we rebound from that. It’ll be a big challenge for us."

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