The St. Louis Blues have been doing what the Blackhawks should have been doing to start this season: Losing way more than they are winning. Coming into Wednesday night’s game, the Blues were looking up at the Blackhawks from the bottom of the Central Division standings, even with a three-game winning streak. But it was the momentum of that three-game heater that helped propel the Blues to their fourth-straight win and the Blackhawks to their eighth loss (including overtimes and shootouts) in their last 11 games and their eighth loss to the Blues in their last nine meetings.
St. Louis capitalized on turnovers, which we’ll get to, and a short-handed chance to take multiple two-goal leads over Chicago at 2-0, 3-1, and 4-2 throughout the night. Even with Arvid Söderblom making 30 saves on 35 shots faced and Andreas Athanasiou netting two goals, the Blackhawks dug themselves into a hole and continue to show they don’t have the guns in the lineup to consistently dig themselves out of it.
Get Him To The Greek
Every so often we get these kinds of games from Andreas Athanasiou. He’ll have a stretch where he’s invisible. Then he’ll have a stretch of play where he’s getting chances, but then not finishing them. Then, once in a while, he’ll have a night like tonight where everything clicks. More nights like tonight will do wonders, not only for his confidence, but also for his trade value.
Athanasiou netted his fourth and fifth goals of the season to cut into two separate two-goal leads for the Blues.
Speed and finishing will take you a long way in the NHL. Doing it consistently, which has been the issue with Athanasiou in his career, has gotten him this far. I’m happy to see that he had a big night tonight on an individual level. It only helps in the long-run when you access your “tank” brain. He has five goals and eight points in 16 games this season.
Turnovers. Turnovers. Turnovers.
The Blackhawks have issues with puck possession. Not only sustaining offense to create chances, but also keeping the puck in their control when they are in their offensive zone.
The first goal of the game came from St. Louis’ Calle Rosen. It came just seconds after Max Domi made an incredible move on the rush to create his own space. He could have had a great scoring opportunity. But, as has been a consistent issue with Domi so far this season, he was looking pass the whole way. With tons of space between the dots, he flung a pass towards the far point and no one was there to receive it. The puck left the zone and went into the St. Louis attacking zone. Then, goal.
After Athanasiou’s first goal cut the game to 2-1, the Blackhawks found themselves on the powerplay. Patrick Kane held the puck in the zone on a pass around the boards, skated towards the far circle, and fired a no-look cross-ice pass that was intercepted by Ryan O’Reilly. The Blues’ Captain took the puck down on a short-handed 2-on-1 chance and eventually buried the rebound to his own shot to make it 3-1 at that point.
Luke Richardson has harped on the importance of not turning the puck over at both blue lines. The Blackhawks will need to continue to work on that throughout the year, but especially after a game like tonight. There will be a day off tomorrow for the Blackhawks to hopefully regroup, and no one needs more of a regroup after tonight than Caleb Jones after an impressive minus-five performance in a 5-2 loss.
Hossa In The House
While Sunday is the big day for Marian Hossa when his No. 81 is raised to the United Center rafters, he was in the building on Wednesday night to take in the game against St. Louis and speak with the media ahead of puck drop.
He spoke about his time in Chicago during his playing career and since it ended, the surreal feeling he still gets when thinking about his number being retired by the Blackhawks, and what his future in hockey might look like. It’s been great seeing Hossa around the city recently as he took in the Bears game on Sunday, was in the house for Monday night’s game between the Blackhawks and Hurricanes, and had a book signing in Naperville on Tuesday night.
Hossa still has a number of stops to make before Sunday night’s ceremonies. Something tells me his schedule on Friday might be interesting to our CHGO diehard fans…