There wouldn’t be catching the Edmonton Oilers off guard Tuesday night. The Chicago Blackhawks fell 2-1 with the Hawks going back on the losing end of things while the Oilers move their winning streak to eight games.
It was a similar tale of woe for the Blackhawks–not enough goals, and seemingly overmatched by a team that is obviously built to contend and win a Stanley Cup.
A few observations after the Hawks dropped to 12-27-2 at the midpoint portion of the season.
#1: Blackhawks Still Play The Oilers Close
For sure, two goals were disallowed (one was clearly interference, the other a hair offside) and Connor McDavid was flying up and down the ice, dizzying defensemen and forwards alike. But again, Chicago hung with a team that on paper they shouldn’t be competing with. Kudos again to Luke Richardson, whose club is still significantly shorthanded.
Credit Richardson again for a successful challenge, which kept the Edmonton lead stuck at 2-1 when they could have easily pulled away. Also, how about a team averaging over 30 shots a game merely getting 15? That’s great preperation by the staff and terrific execution–even with a loss–by the players.
#2: Jason Dickinson Is Going To Make The Blackhawks Decision Tough
General manager Kyle Davidson hinted that they’re going to keep some guys around, and Dickinson looks like one of the top candidates after potting his 14th goal of the season. Here’s where it’ll get interesting: do you exploit the insane value Dickinson has brought this season to a team needing depth and timely scoring? Or is he a piece to build with as the Blackhawks try to get out of the rebuild?
#3: Rem Pitlick Has Chances In His Debut
He had a couple point blank chances and banked one off the crossbar. On the top line and getting some power play time, Pitlick held his own in his first NHL game of the season. He could be a very good depth piece for Chicago as they get some guys back.
#4: Lukas Reichel Has to Be More Aggressive–Like Philipp Kurashev
Reichel looked good for stretches and has some good chances. But there was particular sequence where he deferred a second too long instead of either taking the puck, or positioning himself to get a scoring chance. It’s been the dilemma with the 21-year-old forward whose confidence has taken a hit this season.
That’s not to say he didn’t have some good aggressive plays. After Chicago pulled Petr Mrazek, Reichel had a couple good little plays to put the puck on net but if he wants an example of the aggressiveness, look no further than Philipp Kurashev, who blocked not one, but two empty net chances for the Oilers.