Every single Blackhawks player needs to buy Collin Delia a steak dinner, despite his efforts on the final goal Wednesday night.
Delia’s been one of the few bright spots around this team this season. He’s stolen points for the Blackhawks on two occasions now, with the latest being a 4-3 overtime loss to the Predators at the United Center.
Filip Forsberg scored twice, including a minute into overtime for Nashville to take a 2-1 lead in the season series.
Chicago trailed early when Colton Sissons ripped a one-timer from the slot off a Kevin Fiala feed from below the goal line at 6:49 of the first period.
Alex DeBrincat tied it 1-1 with his 21st goal of the season at 17:51 of the first on a power-play goal on a one-timer from the bottom of the left face-off circle off a pass from Kane.
Merely eight seconds later, Viktor Arvidsson scored to regain Nashville’s lead. He tallied the goal on a breakaway after taking a pass up the center from P.K. Subban.
Things looked bleak after Forsberg scored his first goal since coming back from injury to make it 3-1 at 16:26 of the second period on the power play.
Jonathan Toews made it 3-2 with 20 seconds left in the middle frame with an absolute missile of a shot while shorthanded from the high slot off a sweet backhanded pass from Marcus Kruger.
Nashville held a 3-2 lead until 2:21 in the third period, when Artem Anisimov slid a puck past Nashville goaltender Pekka Rinne to send the game into overtime. Rinne made 28 saves in the win.
The Blackhawks managed to steal a point, but Forsberg struck again when he skated past Toews along the right boards and shot high past Delia from the right face-off circle to win it.
The Blackhawks wrap up their three-game homestand against the Golden Knights on Saturday at the United Center.
Blackhawks are fun again
Last season, this team was an absolute tire fire. They weren’t fun to watch, Corey Crawford was out with a concussion and nothing seemed to be working. Earlier this season, it felt like more of the same from November to early December.
It felt like the same slog as last season, especially in the immediate aftermath of Joel Quenneville’s firing. It got worse, a lot worse, but now it’s starting to get better. The team during the past few games is starting to punch above its weight. The Blackhawks are hanging with some of the best teams in the league rather than getting boat-raced night in and night out. They appear to be a couple roster pieces away from being as good as everyone thinks they can be.
Delia needs to work on rebound control
Delia allowed some loose change in net against the Predators. While Delia’s had less than two years of professional hockey experience, he needs to clean up the rebounds. Sooner or later, coughing up loose pucks is going to cost a goal or two. Granted, he’s been solid otherwise, but it’s something to keep an eye on.
Blackhawks must play better in their own end
While Delia’s been pretty good, the team in front of him hasn’t been. Delia made 33 saves against the Predators to keep the streak of seeing at least 30-plus shots per game alive since he’s been called up. That has to go down, they’re going overwork Delia (if they haven’t already). The team defense needs to improve. The top three scorers of Patrick Kane, DeBrincat and Toews have proven this team can score goals. It’s the defense that needs tightening up.