The Blackhawks picked up their first point in the standings in three games after going to the shootout with the Stars on Saturday at American Airlines Center.
Crawford should be goalie for shootouts
Listen. Yes, Robin Lehner played well until the shootout. But he’s been on public record saying he doesn’t believe he’s a good shootout goaltender, and clearly that means he doesn’t have confidence in his performance there, which is perhaps why he let in the first two shots he faced in the shootout.
You know who is good at the shootout, however? One Corey Crawford. He’s 34th all-time with a .713 save percentage in shootouts. Crawford gives the Blackhawks a better chance.
If a game reaches the shootout, regardless of who started the game and how they’re playing, I don’t care if Crawford was pulled 30 seconds in and Lehner made 50 saves on 50 shots. If it’s reached the shootout, it’s time for Crawford.
Power play can be better
The Blackhawks are 19th in power-play expected goals for per 60 with 6.19. After this game because this was a game where, although Chicago didn’t score on the man advantage, they played much better than they have in previous games. A .72 expected goals for in less than five minutes of 5-on-4 power play time shows progress.
Underneath that progress belies bad passing — over-passing and trying to make one more pass instead of actually getting the puck on net more — the Blackhawks had to open the third period. Chicago would’ve likely won with a goal there.
It was a better performance from the man-advantage units, but expectations should be higher. Adding Jonathan Toews, who can win faceoffs, back to the main unit likely helps, but having both him and Strome there would potentially do even more.
Dominik Kubalik shouldn’t be scratched
Kubalik was one of the Blackhawks’ best skaters against the Stars, which makes the head-scratching decision to sit him in the previous game even more confusing.
Kubalik played the least amount of minutes on the team at even strength at 8:31, but had the second best Corsi-For rating, third best shot share and second best expected goal share on the team. All while boasting just a 40-percent offensive zone start percentage.
It remains a mystery why coach Jeremy Colliton dislikes a forward like Kubalik who continues to drive play well and is able to get the puck on net at rates others should (Kubalik and Alex DeBrincat had the same amount of shots (2) at even strength, but DeBrincat played six more minutes). Kubalik could help elevate a forward like Kirby Dach if the Blackhawks were to move Dach back to center and give him more minutes. The unwillingness of Colliton to play one of his best forwards could be a problem moving forward.