RALEIGH, N.C. – Another night, another one-goal game. This time the Blackhawks couldn’t pull out the comeback like they did in Nashville on Friday.
That’s the way it goes, but the Blackhawks aren’t ending this year as they hoped. Lulls will happen, and the Blackhawks are certainly in one right now.
So before we head to another outdoor game and close out 2016, let’s look at Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ 3-2 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes.
1. Marcus Kruger injured. The Blackhawks will lose another player, and this time it’s looking more long term. Kruger suffered an upper-body injury in the second period and coach Joel Quenneville said the center is, “going to miss some time”. So as of now, it’s looking like a few weeks. The Blackhawks may get Marian Hossa back for the Winter Classic; he’ll meet the team in St. Louis. With Kruger they’ll lose a good defensive player and a good penalty killer. Remember what the PK looked like in his absence last season? Yeah, others will have to step up.
2. One costly lapse. Over a 65-second span the Blackhawks went from leading to trailing. The Hurricanes scored both goals on rebound opportunities. Perhaps it was the more rested Hurricanes taking advantage of the Blackhawks, who played the night before in Nashville. Then again, the Blackhawks getting off to a sluggish start isn’t new, or dependent on whether or not they played the previous night.
[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]
3. Michal Kempny scores his first NHL goal. The Czech defenseman has had to be patient, as he was a healthy scratch five consecutive games before playing against Nashville on Thursday. Playing for the second consecutive night, Kempny looked good and gave the Blackhawks an early lead. Coach Joel Quenneville approved. “He played a great game. Very active, had a couple of nice shots from the point, good one-timer, good play off the rush. Great game.”
4. Jonathan Toews collecting points. Toews’ frustration seems to be diminishing, and for good reason. He recorded two assists on Friday night, and now has four points in as many games. Said Scott Darling, “we were never worried about it. Only you guys were. Even when he’s not getting points he’s doing great things on the ice, stuff that doesn’t end up on the scoresheet. But I’m sure for him it’s a weight off his shoulders, contributing multiple games in a row like he has been.”
5. Onto the Winter Classic. We think so, anyway. As of now, the weather for Monday’s game isn’t looking so good (80 percent chance of rain). We’ll see how that goes but considering how they’ve played lately this game is a little bigger for the Blackhawks. They finished 2016 losing some momentum. They want to get it back soon.