NASHVILLE – That problem the Blackhawks had in Game 1? It was back in Game 2. Not surprisingly, they suffered the same fate in both games.
The Blackhawks aren’t off to the best start this season, as they dropped a 3-2 decision to the Nashville Predators on Friday night. The two will square off again Saturday in Chicago. But before we head home let’s look at the Five Things (we’re guessing you know what No. 1 is already) to take away from the Blackhawks’ loss to Nashville.
1. Penalty kill hurts them again. One game you could possibly call an anomaly. Two games in which the Blackhawks’ penalty kill was futile? That’s becoming a bad trend. The Blackhawks gave up three more power-play goals, including two in the first period. Those were long-distance shots from Predators defensemen P.K. Subban and Roman Josi. The third was a Mike Fisher tip of a Josi shot. The usual structure and confidence the Blackhawks have had on that kill have disappeared. So have the results.
2. Veterans not getting the results yet. General manager Stan Bowman talked prior to Friday’s game about giving the youth time to adjust to the NHL game. “We’ve only played one game so far and it wasn’t the young guys; some of our more established players just didn’t have it.” The Blackhawks’ more established players didn’t have it until late in this one, either. Where they were most noticeable was in the worst possible area: penalties. The Blackhawks are going to be relying on the veterans to lead the way. They’re not doing that enough right now.
3. Ryan Hartman hurt. It’s always bad to see someone get hurt, and Hartman was showing the energy that the Blackhawks needed in the one-plus games he played. His loss, however long that may be – coach Joel Quenneville said Hartman “is going to miss some time” – means the Blackhawks will be juggling lines again. It also affects the team’s depth, which wasn’t so good at forward before this.
[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]
4. Not generating enough. The Blackhawks scored twice in the first period despite only getting five shots on Pekka Rinne in that frame, but they didn’t keep pressing. Again, all the penalties and subsequent time spent killing them off didn’t help them generate much on the other end. It took until the third period for the Blackhawks to make a push against the Predators – they had 13 shots that period, compared to 11 through the first two. As Quenneville said of the third, “that was the first time in six periods we probably had the puck enough.” That doesn’t speak well to the Blackhawks’ first five periods of hockey this season.
5. Work through it. Listen, this is where the Blackhawks are right now. Jonathan Toews and Duncan Keith talked of seeing more good in the third period and building off that. They have to take whatever positives there are through the first two games and go from there. The more they get frustrated… well, we’ve already seen that’s getting them nowhere.