One day after coming close against a division rival at home, the Blackhawks got blown out on the road, 6-3, by the Avalanche. It’s the fifth loss in six games for Chicago, which is officially giving the side eye to the panic button, even if nobody wants to hit it yet.
These past two games felt to some degree like the hockey gods’ response to the Blackhawks’ unsustainably hot start to the season. The team was winning with shooting and goaltending before, and once those wells went dry, things got ugly. Chicago hit three separate posts Saturday, but that’ll happen when you were shooting like 14 percent in the first five games.
The Hawks were undone by a brutal start to the game that created a hole too deep to dig out of. The Avs scored three goals in the first period and two more goals early in the second period to take a 5-0 lead before the game was even halfway over. Anton Forsberg got pulled at that point after making just 16 saves on 21 shots.
Things tightened up from there with Artem Anisimov and Nick Schmaltz scoring goals before the second intermission to make it 5-2, but the Avalanche would respond midway through the third period with a goal from Rocco Grimaldi to push the deficit back to four. A Ryan Hartman goal later on didn’t help much.
Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen each recorded two goals and an assist for the Avalanche. The top line looked very impressive with those two young stars leading the way, even though the Hawks were often matching up with their best players. It’s a big difference from a year ago playing Colorado.
The Blackhawks are now 5-5-2 through a dozen games this season. They’re not far from last place in a crowded Central Division where the Blues have pulled away in the top spot for now.
CHI GOALS: Schmaltz (3), Anisimov (3), Hartman (4)
COL GOALS: Rantanen 2 (2, 3), MacKinnon 2 (2, 3), Andrighetto (4), Grimaldi (1)
What’s the best thing to drink during a game?
This was the kind of game that got out of hand early enough that you might’ve headed to the fridge looking for anything to distract yourself. I personally prefer beer and/or ice cream, but your milage may vary.
The fall isn’t my favorite time for beer because we’ve moved past prime IPA season (yes, I drink IPAs, deal with it), but we live in Chicago so that’s hardly an issue when most breweries churn out awesome year round ales. Just don’t put any pumpkin near by brew.
Today I had a Maplewood Charlatan and a Half Acre Gone Away. They were very good. Better than the Blackhawks were, that’s for sure.
A bizarre blend
Speaking of beverages, Joel Quenneville ran the line blender before Saturday’s game, and it’s fair to wonder why. Richard Panik returned to the first line, Alex DeBrincat was moved down to the fourth line, and John Hayden moved up again to the second line.
The results were clearly not great, and it begs the question of why Quenneville felt compelled to make changes after a close loss where the Hawks often looked good. The healthy scratch of Connor Murphy after a solid showing also deserves scrutiny when the Hawks would benefit from building his confidence.
There were A LOT of calls for Quenneville’s head on Twitter during this game. That’s a bit much, but his lineup decisions against the Avalanche were puzzling.
The Blackhawks are now 2-of-34 on the power play over the past seven games. They keep changing the units, including some two-defensemen looks with Keith and Seabrook against the Avalanche, but this problem seems more systemic than about personnel.
Kevin Dineen has been the primary assistant coach running the power play over the past few years, and he survived the coaching staff purge over the summer despite a poor 2016-17 from the power play. If this keeps up all season, more coaching staff changes could be in order.
- Nathan MacKinnon, Avalanche — 2 goals, 1 assist, 7 SOG
- Mikko Rantanen, Avalanche — 2 goals, 1 assist
- Jonathan Bernier, Avalanche — 39 saves on 42 shots