The Blackhawks wasted a dominant first period effort and a two goal lead in a 5-2 loss to the Jets on Sunday at Bell MTS Place. Chicago is now four points out of the second wild card spot in the Western Conference.
1. Power play woes
14.97-percent. That’s Chicago’s conversion rate on the man advantage this season. They’ve scored a lousy 25 goals on the power play, which is tied for 27th in the league with Ottawa. Plus, it’s not like they haven’t had sufficient opportunities to convert with 167 power play chances this season, which is ranked 17th.
Power plays are supposed to provide momentum and scoring chances, not three high danger scoring chances against, a short-handed goal and a completely altered course of a game.
It’s insanity to keep trying the same thing over and over again expecting different results.
- Cut the drop pass to Patrick Kane on every single breakout.
- Shoot more from the point to create rebounds and force the penalty killers out of their box formation. It will make defenders respect the shot from the point instead of patiently waiting for the inevitable Kane to Alex DeBrincat seam pass.
- Give Dominik Kubalik a chance on the top unit and put Kirby Dach on the second unit.
- Use the low drive to the net option more often. Put Dylan Strome or Jonathan Toews to the right of the net on the goal line and have them immediately drive to the crease when they receive a pass from Kane. They can either pass to the player working the bumper position in the slot, snap a pass to DeBrincat backdoor or simply try to beat the goalie, since most of the time the penalty killers will give that player on the goal line room to attack the net.
2. Nick Seeler was decent in his Blackhawks debut.
In 12:52 minutes of ice time at five-on-five, Seeler had a secondary assist, one shot, two hits, a block and a 48.5-percent Corsi-For. On Brandon Saad’s goal, Seeler didn’t have a clear shooting lane to the net and instead of forcing a shot through traffic that would have likely been blocked, he slapped the puck off the boards to Kane on the opposite site of the net to set up Kane’s pass to Saad:
Seeler did get called for roughing penalty late in the first period, but for some reason the referees missed two blatant cross checks to Seeler’s face from Nikolaj Ehlers:
The waiver wire pickup also stood up for himself nicely in the second period when Nathan Beaulieu instigated a fight immediately after a faceoff.
Overall, not a bad Blackhawks debut from Seeler. It certainly earned him more ice time down the road.
Colliton on Nick Seeler: "I thought he was pretty good. Played hard. Physical. Very good job of in the defensive zone closing on the puck-carrier and making a stop. Obviously, he was physically involved. Good performance."— Mark Lazerus (@MarkLazerus) February 10, 2020
3. Building off a stellar first period.
Chicago came out flying against the Jets with a goal from Kubalik in the first 15 seconds of the game and utterly dominated Winnipeg throughout the opening period. At five-on-five, the Blackhawks generated a ridiculous 70.4-percent Corsi-For and a 1.13 expected goals for, which included four high danger scoring chances and 24 shot attempts. Toews and his linemates, Drake Caggiula and Kubalik, were especially on fire:
#Blackhawks first line of Kubalik-Toews-Caggiula in 4:10 of 5-on-5 action in first period:— Charlie Roumeliotis (@CRoumeliotis) February 10, 2020
— 11 shot attempts for and 3 against
— 6 scoring chances for and 3 against
— 2 high-danger chances for and 1 against
The first twenty minutes was some of the best hockey Chicago has played all season. If the Blackhawks can repeat that effort for the majority of the game on Tuesday in Edmonton, they’ll have no problem putting themselves back in position to succeed on this crucial five game road trip.