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In a game that should have given the Blackhawks a bit of breathing room on their tough five-game road trip to begin the season, the Montreal Canadiens took it to Chicago for most of the sixty-minute contest. Despite a late comeback effort from Chicago, it was Montreal getting the 3-2 win at home.
Sandwiched into the opening schedule that sees the Blackhawks face the likes of Pittsburgh, Boston (twice), Toronto, Colorado, and Vegas to begin the season was this game against Montreal, a team that finished in the Tank Standings last season alongside the Blackhawks. But after a scrambly, sloppy, and scoreless first period, the game broke open in the second period for the Habs. Cole Caufield tallied two goals and Sean Monahan scored on a short-handed chance to give Montreal a 3-0 lead after 40 minutes of play. The Blackhawks had nothing going for them at that point of the game with very little puck possession.
The third period was the best offensive attack the Blackhawks could muster-up with Tyler Johnson scoring twice to make it a 3-2 game, but time ran out on the Blackhawks. Seth Jones had a great chance to tie the game in the dying seconds, but it rang off the post and Chicago couldn’t get the puck back on net before the clock ran out.
With the loss, the Blackhawks fall to 1-2-0 on the season and have yet to score a powerplay goal through their first three games.
Greg: Penalty Kill Continues to Do It’s Job
It was hard to find a lot of positives from tonight’s game. This was one of the worst games of the Luke Richardson era. Sure, there were a lot of bad games last season, but we rarely questioned the effort. Tonight, the execution and effort were lacking at times. The team seemed disorganized, more so than at any point in Richardson’s first season. However, as bad as it was tonight, the penalty-kill continues to get the job done.
Last season, the Blackhawks surrendered four power-play goals on opening night to the Colorado Avalanche. That was just a sign of things to come as the team finished 22nd out 32 teams with a 76.2 penalty-kill rate. This season has gotten off to a much better start as they killed both penalties against Pittsburgh Penguins and all three versus the Boston Bruins.
The penalty-kill unit was on the ice for four minutes in the opening frame. Mrazek was the best penalty killer in the frame as he stopped all four shots he saw. The Blackhawks are still perfect on the season, killing off all seven power-play chances against.
Richardson has been relying on his veterans when his team is shorthanded. Seth Jones has had the most time among the defensemen. Jason Dickinson and Nick Foligno lead the forwards in shorthanded ice time. Boris Katchouk is showing us why he’s in the lineup as he’s been a key contributor to the kill. Surprisingly, Alex Vlasic is second among the defensemen for time on the penalty kill, as Richardson has shown trust in the young blueliner.
The power play is a mess right now, but at least the penalty-kill is working well. If the Blackhawks can continue to play disciplined hockey, that will go a long way in keeping the PK unit near the top of the league.
Jay: It’s Nice to Be Annoyed Again
For the first time in a couple of years, I felt myself irritated watching a Blackhawks game. Yelling at the television, muttering under my breath, rolling my eyes.
It was glorious.
Well, maybe not glorious, but it felt good to care about the outcomes of games for the first time in forever. While the Blackhawks are still in the early stages of a rebuild, we’ve left the “Tank Era” and entered the “Let’s Watch Players Get Better” era.
Tonight was the night Lukas Reichel was going to make a big impact on the top power play unit. That didn’t happen, as Reichel struggled to make any impact at all. I had selected Taylor Raddysh as my ‘Who’s Your Hawk?’ I thought he’d make the best of his opportunity to play with Connor Bedard. Nope. Not much there either.
The game was a dud top to bottom, and while I hope to never see the Blackhawks play this way again, by no means have I lost faith in “The Plan” at all. I still have full faith that Kyle Davidson has this team on the right path. I still have full faith the Lukas Reichel is a bona-fide NHL top-six forward, but man it felt cathartic to be frustrated…even a bit angry…after a loss again.
Maybe this means the Blackhawks are back.
Mario: Blackhawks Come Up Short in Measuring-Stick Game
This should have been a measuring-stick game for the Blackhawks, facing a team that should be closer to them in talent (on paper) than the opening two opponents they faced. The biggest question for the Blackhawks to answer in Game Three of this early season was whether or not this Chicago squad could replicate efforts like they did in Pittsburgh to begin the year more often than once in a blue moon.
The answer tonight was no.
In what felt like the most disjointed game the Blackhawks had played under Luke Richardson as head coach, Montreal dominated the majority of the game with an advantage in chances (66-61), shots (36-30), high-danger chances through the first two periods with a 13-6 advantage, and being able to score a short-handed goal while killing all seven Blackhawks powerplays. Just not a solid sixty-minute effort for the Blackhawks.
While their expectations this season are not to contend for much of anything, you want to see where the team can go with the youth driving the team. Tonight’s effort is a stark reminder that there’s a ton of growth to go for this team to get close to the level that the young Canadiens are at. Montreal is a team the Blackhawks should look at this season as where they want to be next season with a number of established young players beginning to take over as the established focal-points of the organization.
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