The Blackhawks extended their winning streak to four games with a 4-3 win against the Oilers on Thursday in Chicago before losing 2-1 to the Red Wings on Friday in Detroit. Chicago (31-29-8) trails Vancouver and Winnipeg by six points for a wild card in the Western Conference with 14 games remaining.
No rest for the wicked
Corey Crawford started both games after winning his past three, only losing a game against the Blues in St. Louis since being given the net on a permanent basis. He allowed three goals on 24 shots against the Oilers, and two goals on 25 shots against the Red Wings.
The 35-year-old goaltender — who has a history of head injuries — had not had consistent starts before this winning streak. Playing Malcolm Subban against Detroit wouldn’t have been the worst idea, especially if the Blackhawks were only going to score one goal ahead of him anyway. It would have given Crawford some rest against a bad team, and taken the pressure off, even for one night.
Power play returns to the norm
Chicago’s power play was bad in both games, with only two shots in 2:22 against the Oilers and four shots in six minutes against the Red Wings. The Blackhawks have now not scored a power-play goal in four straight games.
The power play added just .29 expected goals to the Blackhawks’ total against Detroit, not nearly high enough or dangerous enough against a Red Wings team seeing the best out of Jonathan Bernier.
If Chicago is going to make one last, desperate push, they’ll need all hands on board including the power play.
Missing two rookies
But maybe the power play being awful wasn’t necessarily on anyone, but on rookies Adam Boqvist and Lucas Carlsson being out due to injuries and replaced by Nick Seeler and Dennis Gilbert against Detroit.
Boqvist has five assists in his past three games, including two straight two-assist games. He’s also stepped up his game defensively, although Carlsson has added more in that realm. Against Edmonton, Carlsson blocked two shots and had a takeaway while Boqvist blocked one. Boqvist had high possession metrics with just a 50-percent offensive zone start percentage at even strength as well.
Gilbert and Seeler weren’t able to replicate that scoring touch that Boqvist has found, and weren’t as reliable defensively as Carlsson. While Carlsson and his partner, Connor Murphy, weren’t able to pressure the Oilers in the offensive zone, they cut down chances defensively and that helped Crawford. Gilbert and Seeler weren’t the same defensively.
The Blackhawks missed two rookies, a bad thing against Detroit, but perhaps a good thing in the long run.