3 Takeaways From the Blackhawks' Fourth Preseason Game

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Petr Mrazek Blackhawks

3 Takeaways From the Blackhawks’ Fourth Preseason Game

Chicago Blackhawks

The Blackhawks travelled to Milwaukee on Sunday night and “hosted” the Minnesota Wild in a preseason game. They generated almost no offense to speak of and watched the Wild pull away early in the third period — a script similar to Saturday night’s loss to Detroit.

I really don’t care about the win or loss. We’ll dig into the roster that skated in Milwaukee and some specific areas of concern in a moment, but the bigger picture need is the Blackhawks’ veterans to be healthy for the start of the regular season.

And, after a couple guys got banged up on Saturday, Caleb Jones left the ice with some shoulder discomfort after a hard hit late in the third period. We’ll keep an eye out for any updates on his status moving forward, but hopefully he’s okay.

It appears there wasn’t much official scoring taking place in Milwaukee based on the limited stats available via the NHL from the game, but let’s just leave it at “not good” in most areas for the Blackhawks.

  • Power-less Play

The first goal of the game came while the Blackhawks were on the power play. Unfortunately, it was scored by Connor Dewar of the Wild. And that was off a Max Domi whiff that opened the door for Dewar to go the other way and beat Petr Mrazek.

Chicago got a power play 83 seconds into the game, but Kale Howarth killed it himself with a penalty 56 seconds into the advantage. The Blackhawks had almost five full minutes of advantage in the second period and managed only two total shots on net in the 20 minutes.

The new-look PK has been solid after the first night against St. Louis. But the power play is experiencing some growing pains as the new coaching staff tries to find a mix that works.

Look, this is going to probably change a lot when the Blackhawks settle the NHL roster and put the actual lineup together that’s going to work on the first and second units. They’ve given some kids — most notably Kevin Korchinski — a lot of run on the PP units through four games who won’t be in Denver to start the regular season. While replacing the speed and skill of some of the youngsters might be easier said than done, veteran chemistry should help.

  • Speed, Speed and… Maybe a Finish?

We’ve talked about how easy it is to love the speed you see from Andreas Athanasiou. It’s pretty easy to see — in person or through the television screen — that he’s one of the fastest skaters in the game; Domi argued he’s the fastest in the league. And he’s had a few really good opportunities on a line with Patrick Kane early in the preseason.

But he hasn’t been able to convert anything. Not yet, anyway.

GM Kyle Davidson brought him in on a one-year deal with hopes that his speed would turn into easy dividends on the ice with a player of Kane’s caliber, and a productive 3-4 months could turn him into a valuable trade deadline asset. But if he doesn’t find a way to finish at least some of these beautiful chances he’s getting, he might be…

  • Ok, you can go now.

After Saturday night’s loss to Detroit, the Blackhawks send a number of players to either Rockford to begin their AHL training camp or back to their junior clubs. We’ll wait and see how many of the players who were on the ice in Milwaukee get dropped off at O’Hare on the way home tonight.

The Blackhawks now have two remaining preseason games, and their next one is in Minnesota on Thursday. Circling back to my first takeaway, it’s about time to start developing some continuity. Let’s see how a top PP unit with Taylor Raddysh on the ice with Domi, Kane, Athanasiou and Seth Jones looks. Let’s put some actual lines and defensive pairs together and skate some real minutes together to start getting that chemistry building before heading to Denver one week from Monday.

There are going to be a few players who stick around because there are some legitimate battles for roster spots. Alex Vlasic, Alec Regula and Isaak Phillips appears to be fighting for maybe two spots on the blue line (maybe three with Caleb Jones’ injury status now TBD). And the news on Sunday afternoon that Boris Katchouk is going to miss 4-6 weeks because of an ankle injury opens another door for Lukas Reichel or, more likely, Josiah Slavin in a bottom-six role.

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Author: Tab Bamford

Tab is the Lead Blackhawks voice for BN. He is the author of two books about the Blackhawks, most recently "Chicago Blackhawks: An Illustrated Timeline" (Reedy Press, 2021). Find him on Twitter at @The1Tab