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How to Save a Life: Avalanche 4, Blackhawks 2

Oof.

Chicago Blackhawks v Colorado Avalanche Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images

Well that sucked.

The Chicago Blackhawks opened the 2021-22 season, falling behind 3-0 in the game’s first 10 minutes and never recovered during a 4-2 loss to the Colorado Avalanche.

It’s hard to envision a way that the opening 10 minutes could’ve been worse in terms of on-ice play. The second half of the period was only marginally better, with a Dominik Kubalik goal on the power play keeping it from being a complete nightmare:

Instead, the first period was only mostly a nightmare for the Blackhawks. During 5-on-5 play in the opening 20 minutes, Colorado owned a 72.22 percent share of the shot attempts, an 80 percent share of the shots on goal, an 87.5 percent share of the scoring chances, an 86.83 percent share of the expect goals, and 100 percent of the high-danger chances.

Holy shit is that bad.

The game leveled off in the final 40 minutes, although Natural Stat Trick’s data still had Colorado with most of the advantages in the final two periods: 19-13 in scoring chances, 6-3 in high-danger chances and 1.13-0.77 in expected goals. While the Blackhawks weren’t as bad as they were to start the game — and how could they be! — it’s hard to classify the final two periods as “good,” either.

Connor Murphy added a late goal with a snipe from near the right faceoff dot:

But that late goal was it. Some shenanigans unfolded in the third with Gabe Landeskog pasting Kirby Dach into the boards with a gross hit due to Dach being in a prone position before the contact and a collective “Oh shit” coming from Chicago when Alex DeBrincat briefly left the ice while holding his arm with a look of obvious discomfort. He did return to the ice, saving the addition of injury to the insult of the loss.

Notes

  • Two things can be true: it’s good that Kirby Dach was noticeable in the game with a few excellent scoring chances and a textbook screening of the goalie on Kubalik’s goal. But he also needs to finish some of those scoring chances. A decent start but certainly more to be proven here.
  • Hey, the penalty kill was a perfect 4-for-4! How about that?!
  • Tyler Johnson skating between Alex DeBrincat and Patrick Kane didn’t even make it to the end of the first game, with Henrik Borgstrom having that spot by the third.
  • Let’s end by addressing the elephant in the room here: the disastrous start. Yes, it’s an incredibly small sample. Yes, Colorado is a very good team. But to look that bad and that unprepared is an indictment on a whole lot of people, most notably head coach Jeremy Colliton. The most frightening part is that the woes of that first period were basically the same problems this team has had during all of Colliton’s tenure: frequent, egregious breakdowns in the defensive zone that made it easy for opposing players to pick apart, leading to a trio of goals before most of us had even settled into our couches. This roster is objectively better. This team should be better. For about 10 minutes this evening it very much was not and it cost them the game.

It’s a one-game sample. Colliton isn’t going to be fired on Thursday. But the team’s performance in this game lends credibility to all of the people calling for his job. They’ll need to turn things around in a hurry or those calls will only get louder. And those of us preaching patience are starting to run out of it ourselves.

Game Charts

Three stars

  1. Nazem Kadri (COL) — 1 goal, 1 assist
  2. Bowen Byram (COL) — first career NHL goal, 1 assist
  3. Dominik Kubalik (CHI) — 1 PPG

What’s next

The Blackhawks stay on the road for a pair of games out east this weekend, starting with Friday’s game at the New Jersey Devils at 6 p.m.