It wasn’t that long ago that the Blackhawks broke out of their scoring doldrums, finally getting production from more than just their second line.
Well, the offense has disappeared again, and it almost led to their second consecutive shutout loss on Sunday night. Brent Seabrook kept that from happening, scoring with three seconds remaining in regulation. But it was an otherwise quiet game for the Blackhawks in their 2-1 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes.
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Now the Blackhawks hit the road for their final two games of 2015. So before it’s wheels up, let’s look at the Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ loss to Carolina.
1. The outside game was evident. And playing the outside game rarely wins anything. The Blackhawks certainly know that. Look back at their Dec. 20 victory against the San Jose Sharks: every goal the Blackhawks scored, including Jonathan Toews’ overtime winner, was within about five feet of the goal. Credit the Hurricanes for doing a good job of keeping the Blackhawks to the outside. But those are battles the Blackhawks have to be better at winning, especially because they weren’t the group playing for the second game in as many nights.
2. Energy lapse. The Blackhawks hadn’t played since Tuesday. Fatigue, which looked to be an issue by the third period of that game against Dallas, was not the issue on Sunday night. The Blackhawks had a relatively lethargic start to this one. If they come out with energy, perhaps they put the Hurricanes on their heels early. But that didn’t happen.
3. Fourth line playing well again. The Blackhawks had six shots on goal early against the Hurricanes. Fourth liners Andrew Desjardins, Phillip Danault and Ryan Garbutt combined for five of them (one for Desjardins, two each for the other two). That’s great for the fourth line, but that also showed how little the other lines were doing until later in the game. If only one of those guys could’ve scored an early one.
4. Power play goes quiet again. The Blackhawks had the advantage just once on Sunday but it was a forgettable effort. They barely spent any time in the Hurricanes’ zone. They didn’t get a shot on goal. Again, it’s just one opportunity. But even if the Blackhawks didn’t score on it, generating some zone time and shots may have led to some momentum moving forward.
5. Kris Versteeg and Joakim Nordstrom welcomed back at the UC. The two, who were honored on the video board during Sunday’s game, have gotten bigger opportunities with the Hurricanes, who acquired them from the Blackhawks in September. That’s been especially true of Nordstrom, who’s now a second liner with Carolina. These trades have become a regular part of the Blackhawks’ post-Cup summers. Here’s to two more who turned a trade into opportunity elsewhere.