The Blackhawks continued to struggle and gave up five goals in the third period in a 6-3 loss to the Rangers. Chicago is 2-5-2 in their past nine games.
1. Dominik Kubalik hits the 25-goal plateau
General manager Stan Bowman struck gold with the acquisition of Kubalik, who has become a legitimate top six sniper with a bright future. Most of the Blackhawks were pretty lifeless against the Rangers, but Kubalik impressed with two goals on a rocket of a one-timer and a burst of speed to beat two Rangers to a loose puck for a breakaway in the second and third period, respectively.
Both goals were at five-on-five, which gave Kubalik the team lead over Patrick Kane in even strength goals at 23. Plus, Kubalik continues to pile up high danger scoring chances at five-on-five and is up to 51, which is only four behind the team leader, Brandon Saad.
2. Adam Boqvist has been overmatched in his past two games.
It’s two games in a row where Boqvist has gotten beat too easily on drives to the net and has been a bit lost on covering opponents that are positioning themselves for backdoor passes. Against the Rangers at five-on-five, Boqvist was on the ice for three goals, nine scoring chances against and had a ghastly 37.0-percent Corsi-For.
Here are two of those goals against that were a direct result of either a poor gap in the neutral zone by Boqvist or lackadaisical coverage around the crease and low slot.
K to B to Z #NYR pic.twitter.com/dSVusf4LbR— Shayna (@hayyyshayyy) February 20, 2020
These type of games are inevitably going to pop up in Boqvist’s developmental curve. He’s only 19 and hasn’t even reached the 40 game mark in his career.
Hopefully, after performances like against the Rangers and Flames, the Blackhawks’ coaching staff takes the necessary time to review video with Boqvist and help him take steps to improve his gap control on speedy puck carriers in the neutral zone and body positioning around the crease. It’s going to take time and lots of patience, but Boqvist certainly has the skillset that can be molded into a top four defenseman and a lethal power play quarterback.
3. It’s time to sell.
It’s been a frustrating last couple weeks for the Blackhawks. They showed flashes of competitiveness and a style of play that could have vaulted them into the playoff race. However, this season’s theme of inconsistency continues to plague Chicago and without considerable changes that promote the future of this franchise, the Blackhawks will remain stuck in this annual roller coaster that will waste the prime years of Jonathan Toews and Kane.