Blackhawks trying to fix, learn from Taylor Raddysh’s defensive misread

Impatience caused Raddysh to drift too wide and too low in the defensive zone before the Hurricanes’ first goal Tuesday. But the Hawks addressed it immediately at the first intermission — a level of thoroughness that they hope prevents repeat mistakes.

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Blackhawks forward Taylor Raddysh eyes the puck.

Blackhawks forward Taylor Raddysh made a small mistake that led to a Hurricanes goal Tuesday.

Grant Halverson/Getty Images

ST. LOUIS — Blackhawks forward Taylor Raddysh was caught “too low and too wide” Tuesday night, and he didn’t have to wait long to hear about it.

“Even when it’s a little thing like that, it’s something you need to see to be able to fix,” Raddysh said. “[Coach Luke Richardson] let us know right after the first period.”

The play occurred less than four minutes in and led to the Hurricanes’ first goal. The Hawks’ defensive pairing of Connor Murphy and Isaak Phillips failed to pin the Hurricanes’ forwards in a puck battle along the boards below the goal line. That stranded Jonathan Toews, who was correctly hovering, “waiting to try to scoop the puck,” said Richardson, who lately has been emphasizing the pin-and-scoop technique to kill plays defensively.

The breakdown compounded when Raddysh, who should have been inside the faceoff circle, instead skated over to the boards and down toward the battle. At that moment, Hurricanes forward Paul Statsny dug the puck out and passed it up the boards, past Raddysh, to defenseman Brent Burns. Burns saw an open lane to slingshot the puck to the net, and Martin Necas eventually put it in.

Had Raddysh not been too impatient, he would have been blocking Burns’ shooting lane.

“We don’t like cutting the wall off,” Richardson explained. “If [the puck] goes up the wall to the ‘D,’ then you’re in a good spot if you’re off the wall, inside the top of the circle.

“Raddysh is too low and too wide on the boards. We’d rather play more on the inside and let it go up the wall to the ‘D.’ And we can respond to that a lot better, [getting] in shot lanes so they have to make another play to get it to the net.”

Raddysh owned the error.

“It’s a little misread by me,” he said. “I’m coming a little too low on that winger, whereas I’ve got to let him come a little higher. I need to be a little patient on the wall instead of trying to force it and give them an opportunity.”

The play was analyzed during the Hawks’ video session Wednesday but also briefly addressed during the first intermission Tuesday. That’s because Raddysh wasn’t the only Hawks winger who drifted too wide and low at some point. Video coaches Matt Meacham and Adam Gill review all scoring chances (for and against) with the full staff at every intermission.

It would be easy to treat the intermissions as 18-minute rest breaks, considering how outmatched the Hawks are most nights. But Richardson and his staff are still trying to make the most of them.

“It takes a minute or two, by the time we get in there, for Matt and Gilly to get the scoring chances [video pulled up],” Richardson said. “And there might be one game specifically where we just kibosh that and [look] right through the neutral zone.

“We just try to go on what we see. Sometimes the video coaches have suggestions and they’ll show us little things on video that we can’t really see from the bench. They have a better view sometimes on the TV.”

Despite the Hawks’ awful record, the coaching staff’s aptitude for clearly identifying issues and instructing players on how to fix them remains a bright spot. How they handled this particular situation, small as it was, was further evidence.

“They teach it really well for us,” Raddysh said. “It makes it easier when we get . . . hemmed in there.”

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