Five takeaways from Blackhawks' 4-2 loss to Canucks: Losing ground in playoff race


Here are five takeaways from the Blackhawks' 4-2 loss to the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena on Thursday night:

1. Powerless play.

If there was an area the Blackhawks could exploit against Vancouver, it was the power play. The Canucks entered the game ranked 25th in penalty kill percentage (77.6), and had allowed one power-play goal in three straight games.

The Blackhawks were awarded four power plays in this one, three of which came in the first 25 minutes of the game, and couldn't capitalize.

You could argue the first one should've been a penalty shot after Jonathan Toews drew a slashing penalty, but they had six scoring chances on their four power play attempts and failed to find the back of the net on each of them. There were enough chances in those eight minutes to cash in.

It remains an area of concern, and the Blackhawks aren't going to climb out of this hole without their power play turning it around.

2. Blackhawks caught in a bind on Vancouver's first goal.

The Blackhawks weren't able to take advantage of any one of their four power plays, so the Canucks made them pay.

Shortly after the third power play expired early in the second period, the Canucks scored on an odd-man rush when Brendan Gauce ripped a wrist shot underneath Anton Forsberg to tie it up at 1-1 for his first of two on the night. The Blackhawks still had four forwards on the ice to only one defenseman, and weren't able to make a change to get a second defenseman out there. 

Alex DeBrincat was serving as the second defenseman, and his neutral zone clearing attempt failed to get out, which led to the 2-on-1 opportunity and the eventual goal.

3. Don't blame Anton Forsberg.

If you're just looking at the box score, you'll notice Forsberg stopped just 17 of 21 shots (.809 save percentage) after coming off a season-high 42-save performance in a 2-1 win over the Nashville Predators. But don't pin this on him.

The Canucks had 22 total scoring chances and scored all four goals at 5-on-5 hovering around the net.

Check out how close three of those four goals came from the crease, according to

There's nothing you can do there if you're a goaltender. It's the five guys in front of Forsberg's job to prevent those scoring opportunities from happening within an arms reach of their netminder.

4. Losing ground.

Not only did the Blackhawks fail to earn at least a point, but they lost ground in the wild-card race in the process.

Going into Wednesday's game, the Blackhawks' playoff percentage was up to 24.4 compared to 10.5 just a week ago, according to Now it's back down to 17.2 percent.

The Stars, Avalanche and Wild each picked up victories and all three of those teams are ahead of the Blackhawks fighting for the same spot. The good news is, the Flames lost their second in a row and remain within three points of the Blackhawks.

Those two teams face each other in back-to-back games, so there's a chance for the Blackhawks to jump ahead of them if they can manage to get four points without allowing one to Calgary.

5. Young guns taking over.

Let's take a positive away from this game. With Nick Schmaltz and DeBrincat each lighting the lamp, the last 10 Blackhawks goals have now been scored by players 23 or younger.

Rebuild? This is it. Think of it more as reloading.

The Blackhawks aren't going to trade away their promising prospects or draft picks at this point just to squeeze out another Stanley Cup run in a championship window that is perceived to be closing.

Perhaps the dynasty days are over, but remaining competitive both in the short term and long term is something the Blackhawks have made clear is their goal. They want to keep this train rolling for a while, and washing up the pipeline for some trade deadline rentals would get in the way of that.

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