1. Need a spark on the power play.
Chicago went 0-for-3 on the man advantage and had a tantalizing chance to tie the game late in the third period after Andrew Shaw drew a penalty driving the net. They produced four quality scoring chances, but on two earlier power plays the Hurricanes nearly scored a short-handed goal and the Blackhawks couldn’t get any extended offensive zone time.
In their last five games, Chicago is stuck in a 2-for-15 hole on the power play and have dropped to 28th in the NHL with a 13.8-percent conversion rate. It’s time for a change.
One way to ignite the power play could be by putting Jonathan Toews and Erik Gustafsson back on the top unit with Patrick Kane, Alex DeBrincat and Dylan Strome. It’s a unit that did tons of damage last season and with Gustafsson heating up offensively (three goals in four games), it could be an opportune time to let him quarterback a very dangerous group on paper.
2. The Calvin de Haan and Brent Seabrook pairing got overmatched.
In 12:36 minutes of 5-on-5 ice time, the duo had a 38.5 Corsi-For rating and were on the ice for 11 scoring chances against and five high danger scoring chances against, which led to a worrisome 24.7-percent expected goals for.
In Seabrook and de Haan’s last ten games they’ve been on the ice at 5-on-5 for seven goals for and zero against, while having a team high 5.21 expected goals against. The pairing is due for some bad bounces and goals against.
With Connor Murphy back in the mix, it could be time to switch up the d-partners and extend the sample size of a lineup that’s been used in the past:
Keith - Murphy
Maatta - Seabrook
de Haan - Gustafsson
3. A tale of two different games
Lehner said Hawks were doing things as individuals the first 45 minutes but as a team for the final 15.— Ben Pope (@BenPopeCST) November 20, 2019
"That's what we did a little bit in the beginning of the season. That's what we have stopped doing. Just keep attacking together and...take care of the puck, we'll be fine."
Robin Lehner is exactly right. In the first two periods, the Blackhawks got outworked as individuals. The Hurricanes won puck battles with ease, exited their defensive zone with little pushback from forecheckers and dominated in shots and scoring chances:
Murphy: "We were embarrassed at home to give up the chances that we did and to get outplayed for a lot of it, just as far as the races."— Ben Pope (@BenPopeCST) November 20, 2019
Then Jeremy Colliton shook up the lines at the start of the third period. He put Andrew Shaw with Toews and Brandon Saad and gave Kirby Dach a look on the second line with DeBrincat and Kane. It looked like a completely different team from the first two periods and much more like the team that was on a four game winning streak.
Kane and Toews played with a fierce hunger for the puck and the rest of the team followed with a dominant effort that gave Chicago a 20-to-6 shot and 13-to-5 high-danger scoring chance advantage in the third period.
Here’s one of my favorite moments from the onslaught by the Blackhawks. Toews shot out of a rocket in the neutral zone and nearly buried a short-side attempt to tie the game then Shaw tried to put a Hurricanes defenseman through the boards. The energy in the crowd after that scoring chance and Shaw’s hit was the loudest I’ve heard the United Center in a long time:
It was an admirable response to adversity and a positive to focus on as the Blackhawks prepare to host another Eastern Conference powerhouse in the Lightning on Thursday.