The Chicago Blackhawks’ slide into getting the best odds for the Jack Hughes lottery continued last night, losing 6-3 to the Winnipeg Jets.
First period problems
The first period woes for the Blackhawks continued last night. Within the span of less than two minutes, the Hawks found themselves in a 2-0 hole, a regression from the better starts that they have had the last three games. They looked like a fragile team on the ice, afraid to make minute mistakes and playing hot potato with the puck, which led to defensive breakdowns, including a glaring one within the opening seconds of the period. The lack of compete was evident, and that led to the Blackhawks actually being down 3-0 when the period ended.
Then, the Hawks showed up
After another listless first frame, the Hawks actually gave up their fourth goal of the night to Kyle Connor (who?). It was then that the Hawks finally decided to show up. Dylan Strome answered Connor’s second goal of the night with his seventh of the year, taking a pass from Patrick Kane, doing what may well be the spin-o-rama of the year, and getting a wrister past Lauren Brossoit. The Hawks would add another tally before the second frame ended, courtesy of Dominik Kahun.
The DeBrincat – Strome – Kane line needs to stay
After starting the night with Kahun and David Kampf, Kaner found himself with Stromer and Alex DeBrincat and that proved to be the best line for the Hawks once again. That line got the Blackhawks within one early in the third period, when The Cat got one past Brossoit. For the rest of the period, that line was buzzing, creating some of the best chances for the Blackhawks to tie up the game. Colliton needs to put away the blender and let lines and pairings gel naturally. I understand the urgency to find something that works, especially in the current state that the team is in, but jumbling lines at this current frequency is obviously not working. This line has proven during this miserable stretch that it can produce, so leave it the hell alone.
Patrick Sharp said it best in his post-game comments. This does seem to be some sort of sick joke. The Blackhawks, for the past nine games now, have been stuck in what can only be described as hockey limbo. They put out a listless, borderline pathetic first period, digging themselves a big hole to climb out from. Then, they somehow show up during the second, actually show some intensity and take the game to their opponents, and get so tantalizingly close to either tying the game or actually leading it, but still come up short in the end. In a word, it is frustrating to watch. Which leads me to my last point.
The time for finger pointing is over
The blame game needs to stop. Whether it’s Stan Bowman’s fault for firing Q and not being honest about the current state of the team, or it’s Q’s fault for not trusting players to play in his system, which led to the front office acquiring players to suit his whims, the scapegoating needs to be over. We need to move on and tackle the task at hand: where do we go from here? The Blackhawks are currently 13 points from the last wildcard spot in the West with 50 games left. Stan Bowman needs to make a decision soon on whether he truly believes that this team, in it’s current iteration, can still make it to the playoffs, or throw in the towel and move assets with value in order to start preparing for the next chapter.
The Blackhawks made some roster moves today, recalling forward Dylan Sikura and defenseman Carl Dahlstrom from the Rockford IceHogs. They also send forward Alexandre Fortin back to their AHL affiliate and placed forward Artem Anisimov on IR retroactive December 9. Anisimov was placed under concussion protocol after Sunday night’s game against the Montreal Canadiens.
Sikura has been lighting it up in Rockford as of late, scoring nine goals and nine assists for the Frozen Hams in 25 games. No doubt he was brought up to hopefully jump start this offense beyond the Strome line. Dahlstrom, for his part, can show the coaching staff why he deserves to be in the big show. This may be the time to see what kids in Rockford are capable of.
The Blackhawks are back at it tonight, hosting Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins at the United Center tonight.