The Blackhawks started a critical five-game road trip in Western Canada with three straight losses and are now on a five-game losing streak after a 5-3 loss to the Oilers on Tuesday in Edmonton and 3-0 loss to the Canucks on Wednesday in Vancouver. Here are three takeaways from Chicago’s past two losses, which both had an empty-net goal against.
Power play remains an issue
The Blackhawks haven’t scored a power play goal in six consecutive games since the second half of the season started. Twenty power plays and zero goals. It’s 2020, but you don’t need 20/20 vision to see that’s a problem.
Chicago head coach Jeremy Colliton made forward Dylan Strome a healthy scratch and shook up the power-play units Tuesday in Edmonton, and the Blackhawks were still 0-for-3 on the man advantage for a fifth straight game. With Strome back in the lineup Wednesday in Vancouver, the units shifted again and they did have better chances than the previous game but couldn’t finish them and went 0-for-5.
A possible solution? Put Brandon Saad on the top unit and shift Strome to the front on the second unit while Dach slides to the right. This suggestion can’t be much worse than Colliton putting Zack Smith — who will be “out a little bit” after his right hand was cut by Elias Pettersson’s skate — on the top unit.
Patrick Kane needs support
Kane did it all in these past two games except for score a goal as his was disallowed in Vancouver due to Saad’s goaltender inference.
Here’s how Kane did in the past two games:
At Edmonton: 2 assists, 4 slot pass completions, 7 scoring chances generated, 9 zone entries, 1:19 of offense zone possession, 23:06 total ice time
At Vancouver: 12 shot attempts, 7 of 8 shots on goal came from slot, 2:06 of offensive zone possession time, 3 scoring chances off the rush, 14 controlled entries, 19 controlled exits, 23:33 total ice time
Kane is doing his part to generate offense, but the Blackhawks need other players to step up and contribute on a consistent basis.
More missed opportunities
Chicago had two one-goal leads against the Connor McDavid-less Oilers, but couldn’t hold off Edmonton. The Blackhawks put 13 shots on goal in the first period before the Canucks registered their first at 9:56, and finished with a season-high 49 shots on goal and a season-low 20 shots. But they had no answer for Canucks goaltender Jacob Markstrom, who posted a 3.66 goals saved above average.
The Blackhawks had a chance to win all three games during this trip so far — they had a 2-0 lead Sunday in Winnipeg — but didn’t capitalize. Chicago is six points out of the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference with a game in hand. By the time the Blackhawks play their next game Saturday in Calgary, the standings gap will likely increase for them.