Blackhawks’ early-season inconsistency continues in loss to Devils

Another poor start, a miraculous comeback and a 4-3 overtime loss offered little clarity about whether the Blackhawks can succeed this season.

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Jack Hughes’ overtime move around Kevin Lankinen dealt the Blackhawks a 4-3 loss Friday.

AP Photo/Adam Hunger

NEWARK, N.J. — Blackhawks coach Jeremy Colliton cautioned Friday against jumping to conclusions too early.

“The headlines are written after the first game: ‘Well, this is what this team is,’ ” Colliton said. “Just like they were written after preseason. It’s 82 games, we hope, and we’ve got to build as we go.”

After a 4-3 overtime loss to the Devils that was a true mixed bag — the Hawks again started terribly, salvaged a point late but lost in OT; Seth Jones played much better, but Jake McCabe did not; and so on — perhaps that’s a worthwhile perspective.

Still, these Hawks know they can’t avoid judgment forever — and know the judgments will be justifiably negative if this subpar play continues.

“We just played a little inconsistent,” Jones said. “We didn’t start well. Then we started playing. Then we stopped doing the things you need to do: the little things, the 50-50 battles. And then we tried to turn it around again. We’re fortunate to get a point, but we’ve got to find a way to put most of the game together.”

Colliton pointed to the same inconsistency on an even more micro level — shift-to-shift — as a struggle so far.

“When we were at our best, we were able to follow up one shift after the next, change before we’re tired [and] leave the next group in a decent spot, and we generated when we did that,” he said. “When we weren’t able to do that, we were on the back foot, playing in our end. It was better at times, but it’s got to be better for longer to get the points we need.”

The Hawks fell behind just 17 seconds into the game after going down 3-0 in the opening 10 minutes Wednesday. Colliton said the team talked pregame about having a strong start, evidently to little avail.

The man-advantage units kept clicking, as a power-play goal by Kirby Dach with 3:53 left and a six-on-five goal by Dominik Kubalik with 25 seconds left miraculously earned the Hawks’ first standings point. Their hopes of earning their first victory were squashed by Jack Hughes’ highlight-reel overtime winner.

On the bright side, the Hawks have 80 more games to try to earn those wins. On the dark side, they are — as they have been on the scoreboard the first two nights — -already in a hole.

Strome scratched again

Even while fellow Wednesday scratches Adam Gaudette and Erik Gustafsson drew into the Hawks’ lineup Friday, Dylan Strome was left out again.

Just how far the young and formerly productive center has fallen out of favor with the organization continues to be remarkable. General manager Stan Bowman called Strome’s scratches “circumstantial” Wednesday but has reportedly been actively shopping Strome on the trade market.

“He’s hungry to play,” Colliton said. “Last time I talked to him, a couple days ago, he said, ‘When I come in, I’m not coming out.’ That’s the attitude you’ve got to have.”

Soderblom a priority

The Hawks might need to get rid of Malcolm Subban or Collin Delia to give prospect goalie Arvid Soderblom the starts he needs in the AHL.

It was mildly surprising, and perhaps -unplanned, that both goalies cleared waivers.

“[Soderblom] looks great, so we want him to play, but then we’ve got the other two guys,” Bowman said. “We probably have to figure that out. We’ve had some conversations about, ‘Is it the right fit to have all three of them there?’ For now, that’s what we’re going with.”

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