Blackhawks lose to Blues as Seth Jones’ absence becomes increasingly noticeable
The Hawks are now 2-4-2 since Seth Jones’ broken thumb after falling 5-2 on Wednesday. Caleb Jones has particularly struggled without his brother.
Seth Jones can’t come back soon enough for the Blackhawks’ undermanned defense. His absence was more obvious than ever Wednesday in the Hawks’ 5-2 loss to the Blues, their eighth defeat in their last nine meetings against their rival.
But his return is not imminent, no matter how badly the Hawks wish it was.
Two and a half weeks into his estimated three-to-four week absence, X-rays on Jones’ fractured right thumb are still cloudy, and he’s still feeling discomfort when making hard passes.
He’ll get another X-ray in a week or so, hoping for more conclusive results — but by then, he’ll already be on the long end of that estimated timeline. Coach Luke Richardson admitted Wednesday that Jones is probably at least 10-14 days away.
“Right from the beginning, we have [missed him], but it shows now,” Richardson said. “We’re trying to bide our time to get him back. It’s a collective group, not just the six ‘D’ that are in the lineup, but we have to play better defensively, kill those plays and get going on the offense — so we’re not in that ‘D’-zone for a long time, so we don’t overwork guys that are playing a little bit more and higher up on the totem pole [than normal].”
The Hawks miraculously went 3-0-1 last January when Jones missed some time due to COVID-19. Not surprisingly, they’re faring much worse without him this season. Their loss Wednesday dropped them to 2-4-2 since Oct. 30, when he was ruled out.
Caleb Jones, in particular, has fallen into the worst stretch of his Hawks career without his brother by his side. He followed up his egregious turnover Monday against the Hurricanes with a night full of blunders Wednesday. All five Blues goals were scored with him on the ice, making him just the third NHL player this season to finish a game minus-5 or worse.
“The first ones were tough luck,” Richardson said. “And then things happen. Later in the game, he could definitely be better.”
But apart from Caleb Jones, Alec Regula also struggled in his reinsertion into the lineup Wednesday, and Jack Johnson remains heavily overworked and overslotted as a top-pairing defenseman alongside Jake McCabe.
The Hawks’ defense would hardly be elite with Seth Jones, but it’s especially laden with holes during his absence.