Before Thursday, the Chicago Blackhawks had four days off. And it appeared that they decided to take a fifth day off as well, putting together a lackluster performance while dropping a 5-2 game to the Vancouver Canucks.
The biggest news of the first period was Artem Anisimov leaving the game with an undisclosed injury. Sam Gagner scored a goal (of course he did), Nick Schmaltz answered with a power play tally, and the teams went into the locker room tied at one.
Chicago seemed to have the better of the play in the early stages of the second period, yet never found a way to put one into the net. John Hayden got close, ringing a slapshot off the post on a mini-breakaway. At the 7:00 mark of the second, Thomas Vanek scored for Vancouver to put the Canucks up 2-1, and the score stayed that way for the rest of the period. Gagner scored again (because, of course he did) just 87 seconds into the third period, and that seemed to deflate the Blackhawks. Vanek added a second and rookie sensation Brock Boeser made it a 5-1 lead before Ryan Hartman scored the epitome of a garbage time goal for the final margin.
Before we move to the three thoughts, a look at the heatmap from Natural Stat Trick (presented in a Charlie Roumeliotis tweet) may suggest one of the Hawks’ biggest problems on Thursday night: a complete lack of shots from in front of Vancouver’s net.
#Blackhawks shot attempts: 58 (44 at 5-on-5, 32 on goal total).— Charlie Roumeliotis (@CRoumeliotis) December 29, 2017
Canucks shot attempts: 45 (31 at 5-on-5, 31 on goal total).
5-on-5 scoring chances were 25-22 Chicago. Heat map: pic.twitter.com/jGTnyzIiA1
CHI GOALS: Schmaltz (7), Hartman (6)
VAN GOALS: Gagner 2 (6), Vanek 2 (12), Boeser (21)
Go to hell, Sam Gagner
It’s beyond the capabilities of my brain to comprehend what happens to Gagner whenever he faces the Blackhawks. Somehow, he adds 10 digits to his number and becomes Wayne Gretzky whenever he faces Chicago. Gagner’s career numbers have hovered around a half-point per game. Against the Hawks?
Sam Gagner now has 13 goals and 15 assists in 33 games against the Blackhawks.— Mark Lazerus (@MarkLazerus) December 29, 2017
If Stan Bowman wants to trade for Gagner just to send him to the AHL so he can’t light up the Blackhawks anymore, I’m in favor of it.
The 12-8-88 line had a disappointing debut
The aforementioned injury to Artem Anisimov meant we got our first glimpse of the much-desired line of Alex DeBrincat-Nick Schmaltz-Patrick Kane in the first period. As was the case with many of the Blackhawks’ happenings on Thursday night, it didn’t generate many chances, though, and by the third period David Kampf was skating between Schmaltz and Kane with DeBrincat skating alongside Tommy Wingels and Patrick Sharp.
Which broken record do you want to hear us play?
Pick your favorite. Is it “The Power Play Still Stinks!” That’s always a classic with the Hawks! It went 1-for-5 against Vancouver. How about we spin a track from “Toews’ Line Dominates Possession Again, But Still Can’t Score.” All three players from the Brandon Saad-Jonathan Toews-Ryan Hartman grouping were on the positive side of the possession battle but none of them scored. And not one of those players was credited with a high-danger chance by Natural Stat Trick until Hartman’s late tally. Last but not least, don’t forget about that Chicago classic “Laying an Egg Against an Inferior Opponent.” The Hawks had four days off and were facing a team that is plummeting in the NHL standings. But Chicago couldn’t take advantage, blowing another chance to keep pace in an ultra-competitive Central Division.
- Thomas Vanek (VAN) 2 goals, 3 assists
- Sam Gagner (VAN) 2 goals, 1 assist
- Brock Boeser (VAN) 1 goal, 3 assists
The Hawks head to frigid Edmonton to face the Oilers on Saturday night. Maybe they’ll actually show up for that one!