SAN JOSE, Calif. – Maybe the Blackhawks won’t be so sad that the Circus Trip is going away.
This trip has usually been a boon for the Blackhawks, a spark that’s gotten them going in the right direction. But so far, it’s been mostly a disappointing trek. That continued on Wednesday night, when the Blackhawks suffered a 2-1 loss to the San Jose Sharks. They suffered another loss, too. We’ll get to that now. So before we head to Los Angeles and celebrate Thanksgiving (perspective, folks), let’s look at Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ 2-1 loss to San Jose.
1. Jonathan Toews hurt. Toews left in the second period and didn’t come back. Coach Joel Quenneville said after the game that Toews suffered an upper-body injury but Quenneville is hopeful it shouldn’t be too serious. There’s no doubt Toews is struggling offensively. After morning skate, he said, “I have to be harder on the puck. I think in some situations where I make contact, I’m just giving up possession a little too easy.” But losing anyone, especially your captain, is always a concern.
2. Special teams struggle early. The Blackhawks were playing a pretty solid first period but were thwarted once again by their special teams. Logan Couture’s wicked power-play goal gave the Sharks a 1-0 lead and then Joel Ward scored a shorthanded goal just over three minutes later. The penalty kill made amends in the second period, nixing 1:22 of a Sharks 5-on-3, but it couldn’t offset the first-period damage.
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3. Offense hard to find again. For a while it was looking like the Blackhawks would flirt with their third shut out of this trip. Artemi Panarin prevented that from happening in the second period, when he scored his eighth goal of the season. But the Blackhawks couldn’t muster any more. This one, though, it wasn’t for lack of trying. The Blackhawks had some very good opportunities.
4. Panarin, Artem Anisimov and Patrick Kane don’t click quite yet. It wasn’t a shock that these three were put back together – the Toews/Kane combo wasn’t working. While Panarin did score, the chemistry wasn’t immediately there. Said Anisimov, “the next game if we’re going to play together we’ll probably be better. The timing’s a little bit off, the positioning.”
5. Doing the smart thing. Whether or not Marcus Kruger had an issue that needed to be addressed with concussion protocol, good on the spotters for taking him out late in the second period. Listen, you can’t be too careful with this stuff and Kruger has had a few concussions in the past. Prudence is smart.