The Chicago Blackhawks gave themselves a reality check in the form of a 3-0 preseason loss to the Detroit Red Wings Saturday night. And it came in three stages.
In the first period, they were stable. In the second period, they were stagnant. And in the third, they just plain stunk.
The Hawks let up after the first period, and they saw Saturday they’re not a team that can afford to do that.
The Hawks rewarded goalie Alex Stalock’s solid effort with a turnover-prone second period that resulted in 18 shots on goal. And they followed that frame with a complete meltdown in the third, allowing all three of the Red Wings’ goals.
Lucas Raymond scored the capper and assisted on the others for the Red Wings.
The Hawks had just seven shots on goal in each period. They had 13 giveaways and the Red Wings took pucks 16 times.
“It doesn’t take much to make things look a lot better than they were tonight,” Hawks captain Jonathan Toews said. “Little corrections. It comes down to guys talking more and knowing what their options are when they get the puck.
“We just tended to kind of stand still, wait 1, 2, 3 seconds and then the play’s gone. You’re putting the next guy in a bad position and it’s a turnover and then we spend a shift in our own zone.”
Coach Luke Richardson still saw positives in Stalock’s first full game in net for the Hawks.
“He played such a great game to keep us in,” Richardson said. “He was just lights out in the second period, gave us a chance.”
Meanwhile, Richardson finally saw the aggressive penalty kill he was looking for, shutting down all four Detroit power plays.
“Our penalty kill and power play in the first two periods looked really good,” he said.
Here are three takeaways from the preseason game at the United Center.
Sure, it’s preseason, but the Hawks struggled to mount an offense with their projected top line of Patrick Kane, Max Domi and Andreas Anathasiou taking the night off.
Meanwhile, former Hawk Alex DeBrincat scored two goals for the Ottawa Senators, including the overtime game-winner against the Montreal Canadiens.
Back in Chicago, the Hawks had just a 20% Corsi-for five-on-five percentage in the second period, according to naturalstattrick.com, showing how futile it was trying to sustain zone time.
At one point, the Red Wings outshot the Hawks 17-1 in the frame. It took a flurry of late power-play attempts to post a more respectable 18-7 deficit before the second intermission.
“That was all turnovers, us shooting ourselves in the foot, really,” Richardson said. “They played well and they have speed, but I think we gave them a lot.
“We just thought it was going to be easy and it was just going to happen. We took our foot off the pedal and played casual and turned pucks over, especially around their blue line. Even our blue line.”
“It’s something that’s all correctable.”
When Toews was asked about the success of the penalty kills, he shifted: “We could probably do a better job of that at five-on-five.”
He added: “We stood there and watched each other tonight and waited for the next man to do something. If everyone takes that responsibility to try and grab a stick, create a loose puck, the next guy can offer support and one thing leads to another.”
- Josiah Slavin went 6-of-8 on faceoffs and was pit bull on the penalty kill.
- Isaak Phillips swatted away some dangerous pucks in five-on-five and on the penalty kill and had three takeaways.
- Boris Katchouk was aggressive as a checker (four hits, two takeaways and a blocked shot).
For players at the far end of the roster, the next game is not promised.
“I thought Phillips had a good game,” Richardson said. “He’s a big guy who can move and he’s physical.”
“I thought he had a little jam around our net in the second period. We talked about that, we want to have an attitude around both creases. No one’s getting around our area, whether it’s before or after the whistle, stay away from our goalie.
Katchouk went to the locker room late in the third period. Richardson was unclear about the nature of his injury and said the winger would be reevaluated Sunday.
Hope you got a good look at some of the depth players in this game. Chances are several of them won’t be around by the time the Hawks play their fourth preseason game against the Wild in Minnesota.
The Hawks ended training camp for 12 players Friday, releasing some and reassigning others, such as Louis Crevier, Evan Barratt and Naperville’s Seamus Malone to the Rockford IceHogs.
After Saturday’s game, goaltenders Jaxson Stauber and Dylan Wells and defenseman Adam Clendening were sent to Rockford. Defensemen Nolan Allan and Ethan Del Mastro were sent to their junior clubs, WHL Prince Albert and OHL Mississauga, respectively.
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Opening-day rosters of 23 active players must be set by 4 p.m. on Oct. 10.
As head coach, Richardson gives his input on roster cuts, but general manager Kyle Davidson is sticking to a long-term master plan.
Still, pulling the plug on a player’s camp journey is something that tugs at Richardson.
“It’s never a fun day, and I think that’s the worst part of the job,” he said before Saturday’s game.
He recalled that when he was coach of the AHL Binghamton Senators, “everybody told me it was going to be the best job in the world because in the American League you (get to) tell guys they’re getting called up, or (that) for the first time they’re going to the NHL.
“And the (AHL’s COVID-19) lockout showed up and all I was doing was sending guys to the East Coast (Hockey) League, and I said, ‘This job sucks,’” he laughed. “So everybody lied to me.”
“I’m not making light of the situation, either, because that’s the guys’ careers and lives. it is a tough position and you hope you give them some hope and you give them some of the things that they’ve done well and a few points to work harder at.”