Three games in and the Blackhawks are still looking for their first win of the season. They’ll look to change that on Tuesday when they play the Panthers, the same team Chicago lost to on Sunday night.
The first game saw two Blackhawks goals as Alex DeBrincat continued to score and so did the power play (which is now 3-for-10 on the season). Connor Murphy also got his first goal of the season. While that ends the scoring for Chicago, it does not end the positives.
For the first time this season, the Blackhawks were the better 5-on-5 possession team against the Panthers with a 58.4 percent Expected-Goals For percentage (xGF%). Three of the Blackhawks’ four main lines contributed to this with xGF% marks above 60 (the one that didn’t was Patrick Kane, Pius Suter and DeBrincat).
That didn’t translate onto the scoreboard, though, as Chicago again surrendered five goals. That’s due mainly to defensive lapses and goals that could have been saved as Collin Delia let in 3.67 goals above expected (although not entirely his fault).
The Blackhawks were facing a rusty Florida team playing their first game of the season and still allowed the same number of goals as they did in each game against the Lightning. The Panthers are, notably, not the defending Stanley Cup champions.
That means there could be lineup adjustments. Adam Boqvist was benched for much of the second period in game one against the Panthers after a particularly bad defensive play. He could be a candidate to bench in favor of another young defenseman. Perhaps Wyatt Kalynuk or Nicolas Beaudin get their first shot at the NHL this season. With the Blackhawks not having a morning skate before Tuesday’s game, though, this is just speculation.
After two bad performances, the spot where a change makes the most sense is in net. Malcolm Subban is, after all, a much better goaltender when not rusty. He proved better as the Hawks’ first game of the season wore on, going from three goals against in the first period to just one each in the others (and a .769 save percentage to a .900).
Across the way, the Panthers will also be switching netminders as Sergei Bobrovsky comes in after not being ready for game one. Last year was Bobrovsky’s first in Florida after signing a massive 7-year, $70 million contract. He disappointed in the regular season with a .900 save percentage and only one shutout in 48 starts. Bobrovsky led the league in shutouts the season before and has won two Vezinas. There’s a chance that goaltender is still somewhere in there.
An already lowered bar from the start of the season somehow got lower after a deflating performance on Sunday in Sunrise. There’s 52 games left after this one. Let’s hope the Blackhawks can hurdle something.
Let’s go Hawks?
Tale of the tape (statistics from last season)
Blackhawks — Statistic — Panthers
48.45% (22nd) — Corsi For — 49.79% (16th)
46.93% (27th) — Expected goals for — 48.09 (24th)
2.97 (18th) — Goals per game — 3.30 (6th)
3.06 (16th) — Goals against per game — 3.25 (28th)
49.9% (17th) — Faceoffs — 50.3% (13th)
15.2% (28th) — Power play — 21.3% (10th)
82.1% (9th) — Penalty kill — 78.5% (20th)
DeBrincat — Suter — Kane
Kubalik — Strome — Kurashev
Janmark — Wallmark — Shaw
Highmore — Kampf — Carpenter
Keith — Murphy
de Haan — Mitchell
Zadorov — Boqvist
Verhaeghe — Barkov — Duclair
Huberdeau — Wennberg — Hornqvist
Vatrano — Luostarinen — Tippett
Lomberg — Acciari — Connolly
Weegar — Ekblad
Yandle — Stralman
Stillman — Gudas
How to watch
When: 6 p.m.
Where: BB&T Center; Sunrise, Fla.
TV: NBC Sports Chicago, NHL Network
Live stream: NBC Sports app, NHL.TV