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A Historically Bad Start, Patrick 1Kane, Some Progress? And Other Blackhawks Bullets

Chicago Blackhawks

After another loss on Thursday night, this time to the Vancouver Cancuks, the Chicago Blackhawks are 0-4-1.

Not only are they off to their worst start since the 1997-98 season, the Blackhawks are now off to a historically bad start. The Blackhawks have gone a mind-boggling 300 minutes and 57 seconds without a lead to open the season, and they’ve been outscored 17-3 in five-on-five situations. But, and hear me out here, the last two games have shown some progress for the Blackhawks.

•   Instead of seeing the Blackhawks play the sloppy brand of defense that we saw in the first three games that featured frequent turnovers in their zone and confusion on assignments that led to odd-man rushes and high-danger chances for their opponents. We’ve seen a more efficient brand of defense this week, especially last night:

•   As Charlie Roumeliotis pointed out last night, the Blackhawks dominated the Canucks in five-on-five high-danger chances, 14-3. They also out-chanced the Canucks at even strength, 25-15. On the first Vancouver goal, the Canucks scored on multiple passes on a sustained offensive attack near the circle, rather than ambushing the Blackhawks goaltender on a turnover-induced odd-man rush.

•   One issue I have with this goal is that the Blackhawks are doing waaaayyyyy too much puck-watching. Make a play. Make your opponent uncomfortable. And don’t do this:

•   After Alex DeBrincat tied things up in the first on a power-play goal (more on that shortly), the Canucks scored goal No. 2 on the night on a redirect:

•   Quinn Hughes got the puck near the blue line and fired off a long-distance wrist shot redirected by Tanner Pearson. Unfortunately, Lankinen is standing up with Calvin de Haan and Pearson in front of him, and he was late to react to the Pearson redirect.

•   Goal No. 3 for Vancouver was a five-on-three chance that Brock Boeser delivered after some excellent defense by the Blackhawks. Jake McCabe, who has been pretty bad early on, made a goal-saving block just seconds before this series that led to the Boeser goal:

•   Furthermore, the five-on-three opportunity came after Connor Murphy was called for a slash on a destination play that once again saved a goal. Lankinen even made a terrific pad save on Boeser’s first shot, but Boeser pounded the rebound past Lankinen for the goal.

•   Vancouver scored a garbage-time empty-netter to make it 4-1, where it would end. The third period was flat, and the Blackhawks played much of the last two minutes with a six-on-four advantage and couldn’t get anything by Thatcher Demko. That was a mark against them, indeed, but the offense was stymied by Demko most of the night despite having 14 high-danger chances throughout the game.

•   Here’s a highlight: The PP1 line was the only source of offense on the scoreboard once again, with Patrick Kane hitting Alex DeBrincat for a beautiful one-timer in the first period:

•   Patrick Kane, who was sniffing out chances early on Thursday night, was toying with the Canucks in the circle that entire power play. He found Toews in a good spot near the crease, but he couldn’t connect. But after a reset, Kane found DeBrincat, who delivered. But that was it for the Blackhawks scoring on the night. That’s a continued problem for Chicago that has to change.

•   Regardless of the small silver linings you can point to in this game, we’ve reached a historically bad tipping point for this team:

•   I will say this before we pack this Vancouver game away: If the Blackhawks had opened the season this week with the two losses to New York and Vancouver that we saw, rather than the three blowouts that we watched last week in addition to these, I think that the narrative would feel a lot different right now. If these two losses this week didn’t have the panic element attached to them that the first three losses warranted, we would be able to focus on the development from Tuesday to Thursday in a much more focused way. With that said, the Blackhawks have to get a win on Sunday against the Red Wings at home, or their season might be legitimately over before Thanksgiving.

•   Some perspective:

•   Let’s change it up a bit here, and rewatch (or watch if you missed it last night) the Blackhawks tribute video for Patrick Kane’s 1,000 games celebration:

•   Alright, we’ve got a few days off coming up here. That’s enough for this morning. I’ll dive into some more things between now and puck drop with Detroit on Sunday evening. The Bulls are back in action tonight. Make sure you’re following BN Bulls. Oh, and I’m pinch-hitting for Eli on Saturday, so come hang out with me on the Twitter machine and talk some hoops!

•   Damien Williams’ status is still up in the air for this Sunday’s contest with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

•   Hey, Michael is an NBA guy now!

•   Cool Story, Brett.

That’s it for today!



Author: Patrick K. Flowers

Patrick is a Staff Writer at Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @PatrickKFlowers.