Four takeaways: Blackhawks dig too big of a hole in season-opening loss to Flyers


PRAGUE — Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 4-3 season-opening loss to the Philadelphia Flyers at O2 Arena on Friday as part of the 2019 NHL Global Series:

1. Leaky defense reminiscent of 2018-19

The Blackhawks gave up the second-most goals in the league last season and had the 31st-ranked penalty kill. Something they're putting a heavy emphasis on this season is to survive on defense when they're not at their best, particularly limiting the high volume and high quality of shots.

But, as Friday indicated, it's still a work in progress.

The Blackhawks allowed 38 shots on goal, 31 scoring chances at 5-on-5 and 12 high-danger chances, according to Natural Stat Trick. It felt a lot like last season where opponents took full advantage of self-inflicted wounds.

"Ultimately we just didn't manage the puck well," coach Jeremy Colliton said. "We turned way too many pucks over and that's where we exposed ourselves defensively. There's going to be times in the game where it's not going your way. I don't think we made many plays, especially in the second period.

"We had our moments in the first where we were good and then I think we had our moments in the third. You ideally kind of ride it out when things aren't going your way and then you can win the game when you're good again. Ultimately, when we were good again, we were trying to dig out of a two-goal hole. So that's, to me, the tale of it."

2. A tough ending to fun trip

The Blackhawks spent nine days in Europe and it served as a great bonding experience for a roster that's added a lot of new faces in the offseason. But they also came here to start off the season on the right foot and that's with two points.

That didn't happen. 

The Blackhawks will return to Chicago empty-handed but are looking forward to the opportunity that lies ahead with seven consecutive games at the United Center.

"It's been a good trip," Jonathan Toews said. "We've spent a lot of time together, getting to know each other, a lot of new guys. So, disappointed with the fact that we couldn't find a way to win today, got ourselves behind a little bit, maybe lagging in the second period a little bit ended up hurting us, but we're seeing a lot of positives, a lot of things we can build on. We'll be excited to get home and take advantage of the home ice coming up here."

3. Patrick Kane honest about three-point night

After recording a career-high 110 points last season, Kane picked up right where he left off to open the 2019-20 campaign. He scored a goal and added two assists in 21:28 of ice time, and tied former teammate Dustin Byfuglien for most points (seven) in NHL history in games played in Europe.

But Kane is also his biggest critic. He was on the ice for six scoring chances for and 19 against at 5-on-5 and didn't feel like he played his best even though he turned in a three-point outing. He was honest about that, although that's what makes Kane great: even when he's not at his best, he seemingly still fills up the scoresheet.

"I think there's always things to improve upon," Kane said. "Preseason [and] regular season's always a little bit different, and for some reason every year it takes me a little bit to get into the game so whatever the numbers were tonight I still feel like I could give more to the team and can create more and have the puck a little bit more out there too, so just keep building here."

4. One game at a time mentality

While they're disappointed about not bringing a win back to Chicago, the Blackhawks are trying not to sulk too much on the losses and get too high on the wins. Especially the season opener, which can feel like a tone-setter.

"You get jacked up for that first one and you're excited and you want to come out and start the season off with a bang, but good news is there's 81 more," Toews said. "We're going to keep building and really focus on taking this season one game at a time."

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