Blackhawks

Blackhawks' scoring struggles against Jets continue in loss

Blackhawks' scoring struggles against Jets continue in loss

The Blackhawks didn’t look to energetic heading into the Christmas break. In that game, they could possibly blame fatigue from a busy pre-holiday schedule.

There was no excuse like that for Tuesday night.

Jacob Trouba had two assists and Mark Scheifele had the game-winning goal as the Winnipeg Jets beat the Blackhawks 3-1 at the United Center. The Blackhawks were outplayed by a Jets team that flew into Chicago on Tuesday morning. While they still lead the Western Conference with 49 points, their lead is a slim one; the Minnesota Wild won their 11th in a row and are now just one point behind the Blackhawks.

It’s the second consecutive game in which the Blackhawks had a lackluster outing. They looked like a tired group on Friday, when they wrapped up their 36th game of the season. On Tuesday the Jets had more energy than them from the start. The Jets beat the Blackhawks in this one as they had the previous two, taking advantage of their opportunities and keeping the Blackhawks from creating many sustainable ones on their end.

“They got the early lead and they did what they needed to do,” coach Joel Quenneville said of the Jets. “We had some good shifts in the first, a few in the second and third but not enough sustained effort. They had more speed and the puck a lot more than we did.”

Connor Hellebuyck stopped 34 of 35 in the victory while Corey Crawford stopped 31 of 34 in the loss.

Artem Anisimov had the Blackhawks’ lone goal. In their three meetings this season, the Jets have now outscored the Blackhawks 9-2. A Blackhawks team that looked like it was getting its scoring touch coming off its last road trip has gone dry again.

“Actually, we just needed to be much better in the first period but in the second and the third we got like emotions back,” Anisimov said. “We had a couple of good shifts and after that we just started bringing but not capitalize on those moments.”

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

Maybe, but the Blackhawks were once again looking for the perfect plays and shots again. Anisimov’s goal was a thing of beauty, a patient pause before putting the puck past a sprawled Hellebuyck. But on other chances the Blackhawks would wait too long or make ill-advised passes. During one sequence in the second period, Patrick Kane was driving to the net and, instead of shooting, passed toward Artemi Panarin. That pass was broken up.

“I just got to read that better. I gotta be able to take it to my backhand, see that the [defenseman’s] stepping up anticipating that pass and try and take a shot myself,” Kane said. “Those are just plays where you try to trust your instincts, try not to think too much about it, even if it doesn’t work out. But it could have been a good chance to shoot it, for sure.”

The Blackhawks’ game was trending in the right direction prior to their last three home games. Suddenly the United Center isn’t so friendly, as the Blackhawks are 0-2-1 in these previous three contests. The Blackhawks aren’t too worried but there’s no doubt they didn’t play anywhere near the game they should have coming out of a three-day break.

“We didn’t play terrible. We just didn’t play well enough to win. They came out hard and didn’t stop all game,” Crawford said. “We’re fine in here. Just a tough game. We wanted to come out hard after that break. It just seemed like they just had more energy tonight on their side.”

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Takeaways from first three days of Blackhawks training camp

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Chicago Blackhawks

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Takeaways from first three days of Blackhawks training camp

On the latest Blackhawks Talk Podcast, Pat Boyle and Charlie Roumeliotis break down the first three days of training camp.

Which players have stood out so far and how will the injuries to Kirby Dach and Calvin de Haan impact the final roster?

The guys also discuss Jonathan Toews being motivated by an NHL Network snub and their feelings about the relationship between Corey Crawford and Robin Lehner.

0:45 - Fan support at Training Camp Festival 

1:45 - Impressions of Wedin-Toews-Nylander line

2:35 - Olli Maatta getting offensive 

4:00 - Aleksi Saarela impact

5:00 - Andrew Shaw at center

6:00 - Will Kris Versteeg get another spin with Blackhawks?

7:45 - Optimism at camp

10:15 - Kirby Dach injury

12:00 - What are Dach’s chances of making the team?

14:00 - Will Calvin de Haan be ready for season opener?

17:15 - Jeremy Colliton teaching D-zone 

19:00 - Adam Boqvist chances of making the team? 

20:15 - Jonathan Toews motivated by snub

24:15 - Crawford-Lehner relationship 

28:45 - Importance of three preseason games in three days

Listen to the entire episode here or in the embedded player below.

Blackhawks Talk Podcast

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Blackhawks using first training camp under Jeremy Colliton to nail down defensive zone coverage

Blackhawks using first training camp under Jeremy Colliton to nail down defensive zone coverage

Jeremy Colliton has been the Blackhawks' head coach for more than 10 months now, but this is his first training camp with the team and he's able to instill some concepts that he wasn't able to do on the fly last season. The biggest thing, however, is that he was afforded a full summer to prep and can help get everyone on the same page during training camp and in the seven preseason games before the games actually matter.

"It's important," Duncan Keith said. "Systems nowadays, with the way teams are, it's important that everyone's on the same page. Having a training camp with the coaches and being able to implement the system and try to get on the same page early on, the quicker we can iron out everything the better off we're going to be."

The one area the Blackhawks have focused on heavily over the first two days is the defensive zone coverage. They gave up the most scoring chances and high-danger chances at 5-on-5 last season, and the team got better at it in the final month or so but it's still a work in progress.

"It's going to be huge," Patrick Kane said. "Even [Friday], first day we're running through some defensive coverage trying to get everything done tactically. I'm sure we'll do a little bit more of that each day and some different things as well. It'll be real beneficial for us just to all get on the same page, set the standard around here and feel confident about our team, the way we play going into the season."

The onus isn't just on the defensemen, either. It's a five-man unit and training camp is just as much about building trust with your teammates and being in the right spot as it is nailing down the scheme and letting it become muscle memory.

"We've all got to be on the same page," Brent Seabrook said. "If my D partner's doing it perfectly and I'm not, then we're not going to be any good at it. We've all got to be on the same page, we've all got to be doing our job and doing the right thing and the faster we get to that point, then I think it's just going to help us out in the long run. We're just going to keep getting better at it and we'll go from there."

The Blackhawks are going to continue working on their defensive zone coverage as camp goes along because that’s priority No. 1. Scoring goals won’t be an issue. And after Sunday’s training camp festival at the United Center, the Blackhawks have three consecutive preseason contests to apply what they've learned in a game-type setting.

"I just think getting guys on the same page as quickly as we can, that's really important,” Colliton said. “You saw there was a lot of D-zone work today [Friday]. That'll continue and we'll just sort of roll out how we're going to play day-by-day so that we're ready. We got that festival game, that will kind of be a dress rehearsal and then right into it."

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