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3 takeaways from Blackhawks’ 2-1 loss to Flames

Chicago struggled to keep puck possession with 14 giveaways and the penalty kill continued to impress.

Calgary Flames v Chicago Blackhawks Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images

The Blackhawks lost to the Flames 2-1 after having a one-goal first period lead Tuesday at the United Center.

Costly turnovers

Both of Elias Lindholm’s goals for Calgary came off turnovers by Dominik Kubalik and Patrick Kane on defensive zone breakouts. The Blackhawks had 14 giveaways, including six from defensemen. It’s the same amount of giveaways the team and its blue line had in a 5-3 victory over Calgary on Dec. 31.

Chicago is 2-3-0 in the past 10 games when giving up four or more blue line giveaways. The Blackhawks’ two wins came against Calgary when their offense was hot and against Detroit when Chicago could have looked better.

Unnecessary errors need to be cleaned up. It’s possible considering the Blackhawks had only one giveaway from a defenseman in a 3-2 shootout win against the Blue Jackets on Dec. 27 in Columbus.

One is the loneliness number

The Blackhawks are 0-5-2 when scoring one goal this season.

But surely the Blackhawks ran into a hot goaltender, right? Cam Talbot was on fire? He allowed one goal on a redirection from Dominik Kubalik and stopped 1.77 expected goals against. The Blackhawks’ offense didn’t give enough help to Corey Crawford either at even strength or on the power play.

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The Blackhawks will not be good if they continue to be the 20th best offense in goals for per game and they need to do better than eight high-danger chances and 1.77 expected goals for at all strengths.

Penalty kill is special

The one bright spot this season is Chicago’s top-10 ranked penalty kill, which was 4-on-4 against Calgary. The Blackhawks had plenty of opportunities to prove how good their penalty kill unit is with two 5-on-3’s. In 8:28 of shorthanded time against the Flames, the Blackhawks allowed five shots, two high-danger chances and .94 expected goals against.

No one was better on the penalty kill against Calgary than Jonathan Toews, who in 2:12 of 5-on-4 penalty kill, allowed zero shots against, zero high-danger chances and zero expected goals. He might have been even better at 5-on-3. It’s getting to the point where it might be preferable seeing Chicago shorthanded than on the power play, especially when Brandon Saad, who’s scored two short-handed goals this season, returns from injury.