Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks’ 4-2 loss to the San Jose Sharks at SAP Center on Tuesday:
1. Blackhawks finish road trip same way they started
The Blackhawks kicked off their four-game road trip with a forgettable 3-0 loss to Nashville in which they were outshot 51-20. They followed that up by coming away with three of four points against Los Angeles and Anaheim and put themselves in a position to return home with five out of a possible six points on the California swing.
But the Blackhawks turned in another clunker against a Sharks team that was sitting in the basement of the Western Conference. The Blackhawks were outplayed in every category, including shot attempts (58-38), shots on goal (32-21), even-strength scoring chances (20-16) and even-strength high-danger chances (9-6) to finish the road trip the same way they started: in embarrassing fashion.
2. A battle between two vulnerable teams
The Sharks entered Tuesday’s matchup ranked 27th in goals per game (2.40) and 28th in goals against per game (3.73). They had also lost five straight in regulation and were outscored 22-8 over that stretch. This is a team that was vulnerable.
But so were the Blackhawks, who were outshot 32-21 by the Sharks and have been outshot 209-131 over their last five games for a differential of -78.
3. Where is the offense?
The most alarming part of this Blackhawks season is the fact that the offense simply hasn’t been there. They had only three shots on goal at the midway mark of the game and were on the verge of being shut out for the third time in six games before Brandon Saad and Duncan Keith scored two goals in 1:08 in the final three minutes of regulation.
It’s one thing to give up a lot of shots and scoring chances, but it’s even worse when you’re not generating any of your own as well. The Blackhawks are struggling to find their way on both ends of the ice right now.
4. Top-six goes quiet
The first line of Alex Nylander, Brandon Saad and Jonathan Toews and second line of Alex DeBrincat, Patrick Kane and Dylan Strome each had positive possession numbers at even strength against Anaheim, but the top-six didn’t do its part against San Jose.
The Saad-Toews-Nylander trio had just one shot attempt for and nine against at 5-on-5 while the DeBrincat-Strome-Kane line had four shot attempts four and 14 against, according to Natural Stat Trick. The Blackhawks need their top guys to play like it if they want to turn their fortunes around quickly.
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