Sleepy Blackhawks lose to Flyers, conclude disappointing homestand
The Hawks had just eight shots on goal through the first two periods and weren’t able to turn things around in the third.
That seven-game homestand that was expected to give the Blackhawks momentum after their disjointed European trip?
The Hawks finished it with only two wins.
Thursday’s finale — a 4-1 loss to the Flyers — was as bad as it gets. The comatose Hawks mustered a mere eight shots on goal through the first two periods, including a second period in which they were outshot 13-1 despite two power plays (neither of which produced a decent look).
A fed-up Jeremy Colliton ripped his team in the postgame news conference.
“We need to focus on how hard we work, both sides of the puck but particularly defensively, and then how we manage it,” Colliton said. “You see again tonight when we turn it over, we expose ourselves badly, and we were punished badly.”
The third period contained at least a semblance of life, including a goal by Brandon Saad that broke up Flyers goalie Brian Elliott’s shutout attempt, but it was nowhere near good enough to overcome the first 40 minutes.
“We just wasted the whole second period,” Colliton said. “We did have a very strong push in the third period, and, if anything, it just proves the point of how bad we were earlier. As soon as we turned on the work ethic, we were very effective.”
The final score could’ve been worse if not for two Flyers goals that were nullified after successful offside challenges.
With the new defensive pairs, the Hawks looked panicky and disjointed at the blue lines — though Colliton insisted “anything could work” with sufficient work ethic — and surrendered a dozen odd-man rushes.
“It’s just about managing the puck,” said Robin Lehner, who had 19 saves. “Honestly, that’s just all it is.
‘‘It’s not that complicated. You manage the puck, and they don’t get all the breakaways and two-on-ones today, and it might have been different.”
The night was perhaps best summed up by a horrendous intermission performance by a ’70s cover band, whose slapstick ridiculousness was received poorly by the disgruntled United Center crowd.
But even those boos didn’t match the ones reserved for the Hawks.
Dach deadline gets closer
Kirby Dach is facing a looming deadline. After six more games, the Hawks must decide whether the
No. 3 overall pick will stay up or spend the rest of the season in the WHL.
If Dach, 18, plays his 10th game, he’ll accrue a year on his entry-level contract, making him a season closer to restricted free agency. If he’s sent down beforehand, the Hawks can push his free agency back a year.
So these next few weeks could determine millions of dollars — for Dach and the Hawks’ future cap flexibility. At the minimum, it will significantly alter his career trajectory.
‘‘I’m not really too worried about what’s going on in terms of where I’ll be,” Dach said Thursday morning.
“I’m more focused on just being here and trying to make the team and not worried about a cutoff date or nine games or anything like that.”
Last season, only the top three overall picks played 10 games or more. The season before, only the top two picks accrued a year of service time.