In back-to-back losses, Chicago peppered opposing goaltenders with 40-plus shots, but could not grab at least a point. Bounces just did not go their way, the opposing goalie stood on their head and mistakes almost always ended up in the back of the Hawks net.
As the kids say, it be like that sometimes.
Take a look at the puck possession game flow charts from the 5-3 loss to Colorado and the 4-3 loss to Dallas.
In both losses, the Blackhawks were able to take control of game, in terms of puck possession, midway through the second period. The only dip that happened was in the third against Dallas when Jason Spezza capitalized on a 5-on-3 to give the Stars a 4-3 lead.
The Blackhawks had all of the momentum following a game-tying power-play goal by Alex DeBrincat. Defenseman Slater Koekkoek misfired on a pass in the offensive zone that sprung J.T. Compher on a breakaway. The Northbrook, Illinois native got a fortuitous bounce off Delia’s pads, and the rest is history.
Chicago tied the game after battling back from a 3-0 deficit only to see it slip away after a too many men penalty. Thirty-eight seconds later, Duncan Keith went to the penalty box for tripping and Dallas got a game-changing 5-on-3 advantage.
Updated Western Conference Wild Card standings following Sunday’s action.
Here’s who’s trending up and down:
Toews extended his point streak to six games with a snipe on the power play for his 29th goal this season. He has four goals and four assists during the point streak, and continues to play at a point per game pace. If Toews can keep this production level up, he will set new career highs in points and goals.
Keith had another solid performance in the 4-3 loss to the Stars. He played 23:46 minutes, had two assists, three shots on goal and two hits. He also contributed to seven high-danger scoring chances compared to facing only four.
Chris Kunitz’s second goal of the season was a direct result of Keith deciding to not force a shot through a Stars defender, and instead choosing to slide a pass to Marcus Kruger.
In Keith’s past eight games, he has one goal and seven assists, and is a plus-8. He’s also averaging more than 24 minutes, and is showcasing that speedy and shifty lock down defensive play that has defined his career.
Kahun had a game-high 73.3 Corsi-For rating in 14:52 minutes, and was on the ice for 17 shots for and only five against. More importantly, he factored into four high-danger scoring chances, while only giving up one to the Stars.
Kahun has risen to the occasion on the second line with Dylan Strome and Alex DeBrincat. Kahun doesn’t end up on the scoresheet often, but his ability to possess and protect the puck, his consistent hustle and how he can slow the game down with impressive patience has played a significant role in the offensive production of the second line.
Forsling was minus-2 in 16:47 minutes and faced six high-danger scoring chances, while contributing to zero.
Alexander Radulov’s goal put Dallas up 2-0 in the first due to Forsling’s costly turnover on a simple breakout opportunity. Forsling picked up the puck below the goal line and had multiple options to get the puck out of the zone. He could have passed it to his wide-open defensive partner on his right, chipped it off the glass to Strome on the wall on his left, or skated toward the neutral zone until a defender forced him to make a pass. Instead, he chose to shoot the puck right in the path of Brandon Saad. It’s possible he was trying to rifle the puck up to Patrick Kane in the neutral zone, but why force a pass up the middle when you have three other options?
Power Play faceoffs
I do not have the exact stat, but the amount of times the Blackhawks lost an offensive zone draw on a power play was too often. Losing a faceoff cleanly almost always results in a defensive clear that wastes time. In the last six or seven minutes, Chicago was handed two power plays, one being a four-minute man advantage. The Blackhawks lost out on 45 seconds of power play time, if not more, due to lost draws that could have been the time needed to force the game to overtime.
With a league worst 73.3-percent penalty-kill success rate, the Blackhawks can’t afford to spend time in the penalty box for preventable mistakes. The too many men penalty midway through the third was the turning point. Chicago had the momentum after tying the game and all signs pointed to another goal. However, the mental error led to another penalty that gave the Stars a 5-on-3 that they capitalized on.
Too many men penalties can’t happen when the Blackhawks are fighting for a playoff spot.
The Blackhawks head to California to take on the struggling Ducks at 9 p.m. Wednesday at the Honda Center in Anaheim.