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Sucker for Pain: Golden Knights 4, Blackhawks 1

Here’s how you know things are bad.

NHL: DEC 15 Golden Knights at Blackhawks
Chicago Blackhawks forward Phil Kurashev controls the puck ahead of Vegas Golden Knights forward Mark Stone
Photo by Melissa Tamez/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

When you’re never really in a game against a team missing its best forward and two best defensemen, that’s when you know it's bad.

On Thursday, the Chicago Blackhawks fell 4-1 against the Vegas Golden Knights, who are missing Jack Eichel, Shea Theodore and Alex Pietrangelo. Meanwhile, the Blackhawks themselves have recently gotten back most of the players that were previously injured.

The Golden Knights started the scoring as Jason Dickinson headed to the box late in the first period for boarding. Chandler Stephenson, who drew the penalty, got open with a gaping net to aim at:

The Blackhawks need a better penalty kill.

Chicago would then get back-to-back power-play opportunities of their own, but after failing to capitalize on the initial chance, William Karlsson drove the puck into the defensive zone on an aggressive forecheck. After a shot was deflected by Arvid Soderblom, Karlsson found his shorthanded partner Reilly Smith, also open near the high-danger area:

Can’t do that. That’s uh... that’s really bad. The Blackhawks open the game with really poor special teams play and it did not get better from there.

Before the third period was halfway up, Phil Kessel added another goal, making it 3-0 Golden Knights, as rookie defenseman Daniil Miromanov found Kessel on the doorstep.

It would take until there were about four minutes left in the game for the Blackhawks to finally get on the board, as Taylor Raddysh scored to make it a 3-1 game.

With 30 seconds left, Smith scored his second goal of the game and Vegas’s fourth on the night to make it 4-1, which is where the scoring ended.

Just... just bad.

Notes

  • The hell is Arvid Soderblom supposed to do in this game? The first two goals came off the blades of guys left entirely alone and the third came from a poorly defended breakaway situation. Soderblom made 21 saves on 24 shots, including 5 of 7 from high-danger, and was essentially fending for himself out there.
  • Yes, Vegas is good, and Vegas is much better than the Blackhawks. But the Blackhawks putting up just 1.38 expected goals in 55 minutes of 5-on-5 play is not only lackluster, it’s horrendous, even for the tank. Especially when the Golden Knights are as hurt as they currently are. It’s no surprise if Chicago has given up due to recent play, but the Hawks are still trying to trade a few of these players. A little extra effort would be nice.
  • The only forward line that worked even a little for the Blackhawks in this game was Patrick Kane, Max Domi and Sam Lafferty, and that’s the newest line of the four. That line had a 72.22 percent shot share and 55.76 percent expected-goal share, the only group above water.
  • This game can’t even really be attributed defensively to the Jones brothers. Seth Jones was actually on ice for the goal Raddysh scored, adding the secondary assist, while Caleb Jones allowed just one goal against, and that was the empty-netter scored by Smith. Both Jones brothers also had a positive shot share at even strength.
  • Now Jack Johnson, who allowed two goals in his 18:25, or Jonathan Toews, who allowed a team-high three, on the other hand? Oof.
  • After two very bad periods in the first and second, at least the Blackhawks tried in the third period, although that may have just been score effects. The Blackhawks out-produced Vegas in the final 20 minutes, including a 52.94% shot share and 56.98% expected goal share.
  • We’re just getting through games at this point and there are ... more than 50 left? Oh good god.

Game Charts

Three stars

  1. Reilly Smith (VGK) — 2 G, 1.03 ixG
  2. Logan Thompson (VGK) — 23 SV, 1.77 xGA
  3. William Karlsson (VGK) — 2 A

What’s next

The Blackhawks head to Minnesota for the second game of a back-to-back set against the Wild.