The Blackhawks snapped a five-game winless streak with an 8-4 victory against the Flames then lost 3-2 to the Jets in the second game of a back to back. Here are three takeaways from the weekend split.
Need more from the top six
The Blackhawks’ top six scored five goals this past weekend, with two from Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews delivering four points (one goal, three assists). But their goals cover up poor performances. While neither the first line — Toews, Dominik Kubalik and Drake Caggiula — nor the second — Kane, Brandon Saad and Ryan Carpenter — allowed a goal, and three were put up between them at five-on-five, the underneath numbers were bad.
First line: 28.6-percent shot share, 24.7-percent expected goal share
Second line: 28.0-percent shot share, 36.5-percent expected goal share
Neither was acceptable, even if they did score more goals than they allowed. The Blackhawks’ numbers in Winnipeg are one reason they couldn’t find better support for Corey Crawford, and their numbers against the Flames were bolstered by Calgary’s bad goaltending.
DDS wasn’t pulling teeth
The third line of Kirby Dach, Alex DeBrincat and Dylan Strome played wonderfully, as their forechecking goal against Calgary showed. They were perhaps Chicago’s best line this past weekend, even if their real goals number doesn’t match their performance (one goal for, two against). They had a 43.5-percent shot share and 43.0-percent expected goal share, but they had more shot attempts (20) than attempted against them (18).
There’s a reason the Blackhawks went to them against the Jets more often than any other line, especially since the game stayed at five-on-five. In about 11:30 against the Jets, the line attempted 14 shots to 11 against. While they allowed four high-danger opportunities, it’s a young line, and they’re showing more glimpses of life than other lines.
Hopes remain low
An exciting, goal-filled win against the Flames should have hyped the Blackhawks up. Even after losing to the Canucks on Wednesday, their second loss in the second game of a back-to-back this season (9-2-1), but Chicago failed again against the Jets.
The Blackhawks are six points out of a playoff spot with a game in hand on Calgary and two on Arizona, but they have three Central Division teams between them. It’s beginning to feel like, despite excellent goaltending, the Blackhawks were unable to sustain anything and will be sellers or stand pat at the Feb. 24 NHL trade deadline.
A 1-4-0 Western Canada road trip might have the Blackhawks at their lowest point this season, and it feels like any hope is rapidly fleeting.