A wild first weekend of the Chicago Blackhawks 2018-19 season left the team with a win and an overtime loss, giving the team a 2-0-1 record to start the season.
Let’s take a look at how aspects of the team are trending in this morning’s Stock Report:
Four goals and two assists through three games, including a pair of goals in the final two minutes of regulation on Sunday night against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Kane is delivering in the clutch yet again and is once again proving to be one of the NHL’s most effective offensive weapons.
The Alex DeBrincat-Jonathan Toews-Dominik Kahun line
We’ve already talked a lot about Toews, given his five goals in the first three games of the season. But the captain hasn’t been alone. DeBrincat has a pair of goals and a pair of assists for a four-point start to the season, providing some early evidence that DeBrincat won’t suffer from a sophomore slump. Kahun is yet to score a goal in his debut season but he does have a pair of assists, including a nifty one-touch pass to DeBrincat for a gorgeous goal on Sunday night. All three players are also on the positive side of the possession ledger for the Blackhawks. This has been Chicago’s best line for the first three games.
The Duncan Keith-Henri Jokiharju pairing
Jokiharju had a trio of primary assists against Toronto and has five points this season. Keith has three points — all assists — this season. And this duo is leading all of the Blackhawks possession metrics (although it should be noted that they and the line mentioned above are also benefiting from the most offensive zone starts on the team).
Special teams units
The power play is 0-for-9 and the penalty kill is 4-for-11 (63.6 percent). Neither of those numbers are acceptable. The power play’s futility has been well-documented over the last few seasons and, somehow, it’s causing issues yet again. The penalty kill will also need to improve as the season continues.
Chicago’s all-around effort at preventing goals
Yes, Cam Ward allowed some soft goals over the weekend. Considering the avalanche of goals scored on Sunday night, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly which ones were on the goalie and which ones were on the defense. It’s fair to assign some blame to Ward, but some also has to be designated for the defense and even the forwards who’ve committed turnovers that led to scoring chances and goals. Chicago’s allowed 14 goals in three games, which makes the Blackhawks 2-0-1 start feel fortunate. The Blackhawks current five-goal-per-game pace won’t last forever, and the defense will need to improve when the offense inevitably cools down.
This was mentioned in Sunday’s recap, but it bears repeating again: playing a 34-year-old goalie on back-to-back nights, even this early in the season, is a strange tactic by coach Joel Quenneville — especially when that goalie has surrendered nine goals in his first two outings of the season. Anton Forsberg seemed like the logical choice for Sunday’s game, but Quenneville opted to stay with Ward and we all saw what happened in that one. Aside from the on-ice performance, the Blackhawks also need to figure out exactly what they have in Forsberg. He’s a 25-year-old goalie with limited NHL experience, so the jury is still very much out on his future standing with in the league. And Chicago won’t get any answers if they keep playing Ward — especially on back-to-back nights.