Second City Hockey is starting a new series this season with three takeaways the day after every Blackhawks game. Here is the first installment of our Three Takeaways series on Chicago’s 4-3 loss to Philadelphia Friday at O2 Arena in Prague, Czech Republic.
1. Duncan Keith struggled
Not often do you see the two-time Norris Trophy winner have a noticeably below average game, but in Friday’s loss Keith didn’t look like himself.
On Travis Konecny’s second goal Keith turned the puck over to Scott Laughton at the offensive zone blue line. Laughton telegraphed his pass to Konency in the neutral zone, but Keith had already backed off all the way to the Blackhawks’ defensive zone blue line. Keith didn’t gap up on Konency and then flung his stick flat-footed at the puck carrier as the Flyers’ winger started a backhand toe drag. Konecny easily went around Keith and buried a backhander top shelf.
Keith normally uses his strength on his edges and foot speed to attack a puck carrier and drive them to the boards on zone entries. It was strange watching him give Konency all that space through the neutral zone and into the defensive zone.
Keith finished the game with 23:48 minutes of ice time, was minus-1, took an uncharacteristic tripping penalty, had a 43.5 Corsi-For rate and was on the ice for 12 scoring chances and six high-danger scoring chances against. He even got taken off the first pairing with Erik Gustafsson and was shuffled down to Slater Koekkoek’s pairing in the third period. This is likely a performance that turns into an outlier for Keith, but it was still odd watching him struggle throughout the season opener.
2. Way too many scoring chances against
For most of the game, except for bits of the first period and the last 5-10 minutes of the third period, the Flyers were all over the Blackhawks. The Flyers won puck battles, forced turnovers (12), blocked shots (13), threw the puck toward the net with bodies in front and dominated puck possession.
Philadelphia collected 37 scoring chances for, while only giving up 18 according to Natural Stat Trick. The Flyers also had 16 high-danger scoring chances compared to six for Chicago. Without Corey Crawford making a handful of impressive saves, especially in the second, the score could have been lopsided.
The defensive pairings were not as optimal as they could have been with Calvin de Haan and Connor Murphy nursing injuries. With them back in the mix in the near future, head coach Jeremy Colliton will be able to expect more defensive stability.
3. Need to capitalize on turnovers
The Flyers committed 17 turnovers, while the Blackhawks had 12. Alexander Nylander was able to capitalize off one when Patrick Kane deflected a neutral zone pass from Ivan Provorov. On the other hand, Philadelphia was able to score twice off turnovers and Michael Raffl won two consecutive puck battles against Nylander and Keith before scoring on a wraparound.
Jeremy Colliton on where things went wrong vs. Flyers: "We didn't mind our first period. I think ultimately we just didn't manage the puck well. We turned way too many pucks over and that's where we exposed ourselves defensively." #Blackhawks— Charlie Roumeliotis (@CRoumeliotis) October 4, 2019
If the Blackhawks want to defend more leads in the third than chase them, they will have to exploit turnovers more frequently, especially when the opponent coughs up the puck 17 times.