The Blackhawks lost both games of a back-to-back in overtime against the Wild 3-2 on Tuesday at Xcel Energy Center and the Bruins 2-1 on Wednesday at United Center. Chicago (25-21-8) have points in three straight games and are two points out of the second wild card spot in the Western Conference.
Dach could be great
Kirby Dach had two assists in the last two games in 35:24, and has been excellent besides offensive production, with .85 expected goals for in his past two games and four takeaways against the Bruins. Dach is turning more and more into something special for the Blackhawks, and the bye week clearly did him some good.
In more than 20 minutes split between the two games, the line of Brandon Saad, Patrick Kane and Dach have a 16.67 percent shot share and 7.89 percent expected goal share at five-on-five. Those are unacceptable numbers for any of those trio on their own, let alone as a line. Dach’s had better success with Alex DeBrincat and Dylan Strome in five minutes against the Wild.
With Dach proving more and more that he can play in the league, it’s in the Blackhawks’ best interest to put him in the best situation. That’s not happening now, but it should and it can.
Chicago no longer runs on Duncan
Duncan Keith played 52:02 during the past two games, more than any other Blackhawk by almost 10 minutes (second place is Connor Murphy with 42:20). Those numbers should likely be reversed.
Neither of them have been great.
Expected goal share
But Murphy is doing it with a) arguably a worse partner in Erik Gustafsson versus Adam Boqvist and b) a more defensively-oriented workload as Murphy did not have a single offensive zone start.
It’s not a bad thing Keith is no longer a No. 1 defenseman as he’s 36 years old. It’s time for him to take a backseat and play second-pairing minutes. If only the Blackhawks realized that and gave Murphy a No. 1 defenseman role opportunity.
Special teams are coming back
The Blackhawks’ power play, before Wednesday’s game against the Bruins, had fallen to 29th in the League at 15 percent. DeBrincat scored on a rebound for his ninth power-play goal and 13th this season to elevate Chicago’s conversion rate. The Blackhawks had seven shots and 1.55 expected goals in nine minutes of power-play time these past two games.
The two games were good for the penalty kill as well. They didn’t allow a goal against in nearly seven minutes of four-on-five time, and allowed far less — .59 expected goals against, one high-danger opportunity against and one for, eight shot attempts allowed — than the power play gained.
This doesn’t mean the special teams as a whole were perfect, but it shows there could be room for growth, and this could have been the start.