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3 takeaways from Blackhawks’ 5-2 loss to Predators

Adam Boqvist struggled defensively, Alex DeBrincat scored a much needed goal and Dominik Kubalik continued to surpass expectations.

Nashville Predators v Chicago Blackhawks
Dominik Kubalik of the Chicago Blackhawks and Yannick Weber of the Nashville Predators in NHL action
Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images

The Blackhawks never led in a 5-2 loss to the Predators on Thursday at United Center. Chicago is now 19-20-6 and have lost two in a row.

Boqvist still has work to do

Adam Boqvist was on ice, and perhaps more responsible than he’d like, for the first two goals against Nashville. Boqvist had a giveaway — which led directly to a goal — and was on ice for three even-strength goals against, getting beat in a footrace by Nick Bonino with the net empty.

At even strength, Boqvist had a 50.0-percent Corsi-For rating, but just 40.0-percent shot share and 23.2-percent expected goal share.

Adam Boqvist on-ice impact

Boqvist still needs to show signs of defensive improvement because without a point against Nashville, he was a liability defensively. He took time to address his problems against the Flames on Tuesday, and he showed similar problems against the Predators:

Good things happen when DeBrincat shoots

Alex DeBrincat scored a goal for the first time in four games. He’s had a streaky, disappointing season with 11 goals in 45 games, which is far from his 41-goal performance from last season.

Part of the problem is DeBrincat has shot the puck an average of 4.91 times per game, down from his pace last season. Only 2.8 shots have been on net, and he’s taking the third-most shots per 60 (9.3) after Patrick Kane (10.3) and Dominik Kubalik (9.67). That rate likely needs to spike if DeBrincat is going to regain his scoring form. He shot the puck five times, including three on net, against the Predators.

Alex DeBrincat event map
Natural Stat Trick

DeBrincat’s shooting percentage (10 points lower than last season) also likely plays a role, but if he can shoot the puck more he’ll be able to start scoring again, even without that spike in luck, which the Blackhawks desperately need.

Kubalik may have been the best pickup of 2019

Dominik Kubalik has been one of the best Blackhawks forwards all season and that continued against Nashville. He scored his 14th goal of the season, earned two high-danger chances and drew a penalty.

Kubalik had a 57.7-percent Corsi, 54.5-percent shot share and 58.4-percent expected goal share at five-on-five. He has the fifth-best shot share and fourth-best expected goal share on the Blackhawks roster, and has surpassed preseason expectations.