WASHINGTON, D.C. – Well, this back-to-back didn’t go nearly as well as the Blackhawks’ first back-to-back of the season, did it?
A few days after putting up seven goals in two games against the New York Islanders, the Blackhawks could muster just one combined against the Philadelphia Flyers and Washington Capitals. It was a frustrating two days for the Blackhawks, although coach Joel Quenneville was happier with the team’s effort against the Capitals than he was the Flyers; he said the Blackhawks were “brutal” vs. Philadelphia.
So the Blackhawks will head home and prepare for Saturday, when the beleaguered Columbus Blue Jackets – they’re still looking for their first victory of the season – and former teammate Brandon Saad come to town. Before we talk reunions, let’s talk about the Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ 4-1 loss to the Capitals.
1. The fourth line shines. Andrew Desjardins, Marcus Kruger and Andrew Shaw formed the Blackhawks’ best line on Thursday. They had their chances – Braden Holtby stymied Shaw and Kruger, and Desjardins missed wide on a gaping net. The work ethic has always been there with these three, and it was there again on Thursday.
2. Another slow start. Shaw said the team expected the Capitals to come out charging, but the Blackhawks clearly had no answer for it. It took them nearly 10 minutes to get a shot on net. They looked like they were playing an extended penalty kill during those early first-period minutes. And when they went on their first penalty kill, it lasted just 17 seconds before the Capitals scored on the power play. The starts have to be better.
[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]
3. Don’t read too much into the Ryan Garbutt scratch. As Quenneville said, “we could’ve had a lot of customers” eligible for a Thursday scratch, based on Wednesday’s awful outing. Expect Garbutt back in again soon.
4. Keep Bryan Bickell on the top line. It’s been musical chairs at that left-wing spot on the top line. Maybe Bickell needs to play with Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa as much as the latter two need one guy to be with them for more than one game. Let’s stick with this combo for a bit, for no other reason than to just to stop the merry-go-round.
5. Look back to past incidents. The Blackhawks have been here, done this before when it comes to slumps. Every team has them. This team knows how to get out of them better than most. They’ll draw on experience and figure things out.