The Chicago Blackhawks looked better at home on Thursday night than they did in a Central Division loss to the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday night. But they still ended up on the wrong side of the scoreboard, losing 2-1 to the Edmonton Oilers in overtime.
Patrick Kane got the Hawks ahead early, chipping a puck in front of the goal that hit Edmonton goalie Cam Talbot and ricocheted into the net.
Connor McDavid did a Connor McDavid thing to even up the game late in the first period, spinning off of Duncan Keith to open up a passing lane for an easy tap-in goal by Pat Maroon.
Connor McDavid. We are not worthy pic.twitter.com/b3MPlfOveQ— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) October 20, 2017
I’m not terribly disappointed in Keith here. His stick placement isn’t great, which helps open up the passing lane. But McDavid is just that good — he’s going to make good players look like ECHLers at times. It was Keith’s turn tonight.
A few posts would be hit during the rest of regulation, before the game went into the crapshoot that is 3-on-3 overtime. Kane took a penalty for hooking McDavid to prevent a scoring chance with just over a minute left in the extra frame. Mark Letestu cashed in on the ensuing power play, giving Edmonton its second win of the season.
CHI GOALS: Kane (3)
EDM GOALS: Maroon (1), Letestu (2)
Will someone please shoot the freaking puck already?
When this team is clicking, it can play some of the most beautiful type of hockey the NHL can boast. But every now and then, they get a little pass-happy, a little too fancy, a little to eager to create the next highlight reel. I thought that happened multiple times tonight. Kane had a few chances to get the puck on net but opted for a few more stick-handles while waiting for a passing lane to open that never would. His line is typically the most guilty culprit of this crime, but the top line got involved as well at times. Cam Talbot is a decent goalie but not one that requires perfect passing plays to defeat. More pucks to the net might have prevented this game from getting to overtime.
Let’s take a look at the future of Anton Forsberg, shall we?
I’m probably getting way ahead of myself here, but I either approach this topic or beat the dead horses that are the lack of a power play (again) and Brent Seabrook simply not playing well (again). As we mentioned soon after the deal, Forsberg has some championship experience, leading a Calder Cup run during the 2015-16 AHL season. He didn’t look good in his brief NHL appearances before this year, but he’s been solid in a pair of starts against two offensively-gifted teams in Edmonton and the Toronto Maple Leafs. Tonight’s game doesn’t make it to overtime without some of his third-period saves. Soon after being acquired by Chicago in the Artemi Panarin/Brandon Saad deal, Forsberg signed a two-year deal at a $750,000 cap hit. When that deal expires, he’ll be a restricted free agent and Corey Crawford will be 34 years old with one year remaining on his deal. You will find no bigger defender of Crawford than me and Forsberg has a long way to go to prove he’s a No. 1 in the NHL. But Forsberg’s development is going to be crucial over the next few seasons. And if he improves that he starts looking like a No. 1 goalie, it could make for an interesting offseason in the summer of 2019.
Getting Jan Rutta was a damn steal by the Hawks front office
Connor Murphy had a redemptive performance tonight, as Ed Olczyk pointed out during the WGN broadcast. But the guy who’s been consistently playing quality hockey since he arrived in Chicago is Czech import Jan Rutta. He arrived with little fanfare in the offseason, signing a one-year deal after spending the last few seasons with Piráti Chomutov in the Czech Extraliga. But he’s shown no trouble adapting to the North American ice and might be the best right-handed defenseman on the team right now. He’s even earned shifts with Chicago’s clear No. 1 defenseman in Keith — evidence that Joel Quenneville is fond of his play as well. For a guy who’s 6-3, 200 pounds, Rutta skates quite well and has enough hands to be a factor on offense as well as defense. And they signed him as a free agent out of Europe. Anyone could’ve had this guy, but the Hawks located him, scouted him, and signed him. Stan Bowman doesn’t have a perfect batting average — far from it (Hi there, Seabrook deal) — but he and his staff appear to have knocked this one out of the park.
- Connor McDavid (EDM) — 1 goal, 1 assist
- Mark Letestu (EDM) — 1 goal
- Anton Forsberg (CHI) — 42 saves