Blackhawks

'Outworked' Hawks shut out in third straight loss

635114.png

'Outworked' Hawks shut out in third straight loss

Updated: Friday, Jan. 6 at 10:52 p.m.

Coach Joel Quenneville felt the Blackhawks shouldve gotten at least a point out of their game in Philadephia on Thursday night. He didnt see them deserving even that on Friday.

David Jones tip-in proved to be the game-winner, as the Colorado Avalanche blanked the Blackhawks 4-0 at the United Center. It was the Blackhawks third consecutive loss and fourth in their last five games. It was also the fifth time this season theyve been shut out.

The Blackhawks were facing a rested and confident Avalanche, who have now won nine of their last 10. It showed from the blue line to the net, where Semyon Varlamov stopped all 27 shots for his second shutout this season.

Last night we couldveshouldve got a point. Tonight we didnt deserve anything, Quenneville said. We got what we deserved.

The Blackhawks didnt have much jump from the outset. Perhaps it was an after effect of their physical game in Philadelphia on Thursday. But they werent using that as an excuse.

It seemed like we were a step behind the whole game. I dont know why, Duncan Keith said. Especially in games like this, back to back, we need to rely on our team game. For whatever reason tonight, it wasnt very good.

The Blackhawks struggled defensively on one end -- Nick Leddy had a particularly rough night -- as the Avalanche pounced on miscues and open chances. They were shut down offensively on the other end, too. The Blackhawks had their chances, but they also had plenty of one-and-done opportunities.

We didnt generate enough, Quenneville said. We had some quality chances. It wouldve been nice to get one and see what wouldve happened.

Defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson said it was not a good game at all. We just got outworked basically. We have to do better and try to get more bodies at the net, get the puck deep and go to work. Weve been struggling with that the last couple of games and thats why were not winning.

The Blackhawks were winning in December with that team game Keith talked about on Friday night. As the calendar has turned, so has their game. On Sunday theyll face the Detroit Red Wings, against whom they had one of those stellar across-the-board performances last time. Theyll need that again, and they need to keep it going like they did in December.

The last three games we havent been consistent at all, Hjalmarsson said. A couple guys (have) a good game and in another game a couple other guys are good. We just have to be on top, the whole team, when the game starts.

Blackhawks acquire Olli Maatta, send Dominik Kahun to Penguins

Blackhawks acquire Olli Maatta, send Dominik Kahun to Penguins

One of the Blackhawks’ priorities this summer is to add pieces that will help shore up the defensive part of their game after they gave up the second-most goals in the NHL last season. And they didn’t waste much time doing it.

Less than a week before the 2019 NHL Draft, the Blackhawks announced Saturday that they have acquired defenseman Olli Maatta from the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for forward Dominik Kahun and a 2019 fifth-round pick.

Maatta is 24 years old, carries a left-handed shot and is a two-time Stanley Cup champion. But he battled injuries last season and fell out of favor in Pittsburgh, where he was a healthy scratch for three games in the first round of the playoffs.

The Blackhawks are hoping a fresh start could help Maatta find his game again, and do it in a place that may better utilize his skill-set. Where he could help is in the defensive part. 

According to The Point, Maatta ranked 9th among defensemen in blocked shots per game (2.05), 26th in defensive zone puck battles won (2.45), 40th in blocked defense zone passes (3.77) and 47th in outlet passes (8.95). 

Maatta, who was taken in the first round (No. 22 overall) in 2012, had 14 points (one goal, 13 assists) in 60 games last season. His best year came in 2017-18 when he tallied 29 points (seven goals, 22 assists) in 82 games. He has three years remaining on his deal that carries a $4.083 million cap hit.

It’s worth noting that when Maatta signing his extension with Pittsburgh on Feb. 26, 2016, the contract included a modified no-trade clause in his final two years, according to Cap Friendly. The Blackhawks will have the option to either honor that clause or nullify it.

The Blackhawks are expected to have some heavy competition among the forwards at training camp with the signings of Dominik Kubalik and Anton Wedin. That likely made Kahun expendable despite a rookie season in which he compiled 37 points (13 goals, 24 assists) in 82 games.

2019 NHL Draft Profile: RW Kaapo Kakko

2019 NHL Draft Profile: RW Kaapo Kakko

From June 10-20, Charlie Roumeliotis will profile one top prospect per day — 11 total — leading up to the 2019 NHL Draft as the Blackhawks prepare to pick third overall.

Kaapo Kakko

Position: Right wing
Height: 6-foot-2
Weight: 194 pounds
Shoots: Left

Scouting report from The Draft Analyst's Steve Kournianos:

"Multi-tooled winger with size and coordination who incorporates his impressive puck skills with a desirable physical package that consistently exhausts opponents. Blessed with incredibly soft hands and tight-quarter quickness, Kakko is a reliable stickhandler who uses timing plays to either get open or create space for his linemates.”

NHL player comparable: Mikko Rantanen

Fit for Blackhawks:

Alright, let’s get this out of the way with: Kakko isn’t going to be on the board when the Blackhawks pick at No. 3. He’s expected to be taken second overall by the New York Rangers.

But, hypothetically, if he did slip, Kakko is probably one of two players in this draft class who could step onto an NHL roster today and make an immediate impact. He’s that good, and we saw it at the 2019 IIHF World Championship when he scored six goals to lead Finland to a gold medal. 

Kakko would give the Blackhawks a dynamic winger on the right side to go along with Patrick Kane, meaning they wouldn't have to worry about their top-six right wingers for many years to come. You shouldn't draft a winger this high unless he's as close to a sure-fire prospect as they come, and Kakko would qualify.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Blackhawks easily on your device.