Hawks Insider

10 observations: Hawks waste Lankinen's strong start in loss


The Blackhawks fell to the Minnesota Wild 3-1 at Xcel Energy Center on Thursday.

Here are 10 observations from the loss:

1. The Blackhawks didn't have much jump in this game, and you have to wonder how much of that had to do with the fact one of their most popular teammates in Brandon Hagel was traded to Tampa Bay just 24 hours earlier. The rebuild is officially on.

2. The last time Kevin Lankinen started in Minnesota, he injured his right hand during the second period and still managed to finish with 40 saves in an overtime loss. He made his fourth start since then after missing one month with the injury and picked up where he left off by turning aside 31 of 33 shots for a save percentage of .939. Sixteen of the 33 shots came from the slot, per Sportlogiq. This was one of his sharpest outings of the season.

3. During 5-on-5 action, the Blackhawks were credited with 11 five scoring chances and one high-danger chance, per Natural Stat Trick. The Wild had 26 scoring chances and nine high-danger chances. A lopsided game at even strength.

4. Interim head coach Derek King didn't wait long at all to insert newly-acquired forwards Boris Katchouk and Taylor Raddysh into the lineup. They both took the opening faceoff on a line together between Sam Lafferty. Katchouk is more of a bottom-six type of forward while Raddysh's ceiling is a middle-six winger with some scoring upside.

5. Raddysh was noticeable in the first period of his team debut. For the game, he recorded two shot attempts, five hits, 15:03 of ice time, and was also put on the first power-play unit, where he reunited with his former Erie Otters linemates Alex DeBrincat and Dylan Strome. They gave him some larger responsibilities early, and I think that will be the case moving forward.

6. Here was Raddysh's response when asked by Eddie Olczyk during the first period intermission what kind of player he is and hopes to be in Chicago: "I'm a two-way guy that works hard and feeds off energy. I'm hoping to bring some offensive game here and show what I got. Tampa was kind of limited with the amazing team we had there, and here I'm ready to step out of my comfort zone and be a better player overall."

7. In the first two periods, the Blackhawks were outshot 6-0 when the top line of DeBrincat, Patrick Kane and Strome were on the ice together at even strength, according to Natural Stat Trick. In the third period, they outshot the Wild 4-0. The three of them struggled to generate offense for most of the game but eventually got it together at the end.

8. Seth Jones said last week that his low goal total has been "frustrating the hell out of me" this season. Well, he finally snapped his goal drought at 35 games by scoring the game-tying goal in the third period. It was his first tally since Dec. 2, 2021, and you have to imagine he feels a lot lighter after that.

9. King was hesitant to throw in Alex Vlasic for his NHL debut against a really good Wild team at home but ended up doing so anyway, and it was smart to dress seven defensemen and shelter his minutes. He logged only 6:10 of ice time and registered one blocked shot, but getting a taste of the action is still valuable experience for a young defenseman prospect like Vlasic, who could have a bright future as a shutdown guy if he reaches his full potential.

10. The Blackhawks are 11-16-4 on the road this season. They're 11-15-5 at home. At least they're consistent?

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