Chicago Blackhawks slow start leads to home ice loss to Edmonton

Blackhawks slow start leads to home ice loss to Edmonton

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

It would be natural for the Chicago Blackhawks to collectively take a deep breath after their consecutive point streak was snapped. Unfortunately the Hawks came out on Sunday night and it wasn't a pause, but more like a deep sleep. The Oilers were in complete control and the Hawks were barely moving their feet. When the opening 20 minutes ended, Edmonton was on top 4-0.

For the next 40 minutes the Hawks were much better but the hole was too deep as the good guys dropped a 6-5 decision. At least the capacity crowd of 22,020 had reason to cheer as Patrick Kane notched two goals while leading an exciting comeback. That was the best part of the evening as Edmonton came into Chicago for the last stop of an eight game road trip and skated away with two points.

The Blackhawks were outshot in the opening frame 12-6. From that point forward Chicago outshot Edmonton 31-13 but maybe that's somewhat misleading. The Oilers aren't a well-oiled machine that is accustomed to winning so they got away from their plan. What the Oilers can do is skate, move the puck and Sunday night they connected for three power play goals. Sometimes their young players over pass but they have skill.

When the Oilers were left to camp in front of the Blackhawks net bad things happened. That is the second game in a row where opponents were allowed to spend time unmolested near the Hawks goal. That needs to quickly change or the goals against averages for Chicago netminders are going to rise.

Ray Emery started the game and let in a soft goal which accounted for the Oilers first score. The Blackhawks were standing still and Emery was later hung out to dry. When Corey Crawford replaced Emery the Hawks trailed 3-0. Technically Emery is still unbeaten as Crawford was saddled with the loss because the Hawks scored more than three goals. Crawford was much better than his last start, but like Emery wasn't well supported. The Blackhawks were loose in their own zone and the Oilers deserved the regulation win.

Joel Quenneville's postgame comments indicated his club's biggest enemy is fatigue. They looked tired and it is most likely both physical and mental. As a result Coach Q. has given troops a couple of days off. The Hawks will practice on Wednesday before beginning a four game, seven day road trip in Columbus Thursday night.

Al's Shots

The Chicago power play has looked anything but powerful of late. Not sure why Quenneville puts Duncan Keith out on the power play at all.

Last season, a main reason for the poor power play had to do with Keith's awful shooting percentage. Now his shooting percentage is even lower than last year and stands at slightly below two percent. I thought last season's 2.5 percent was bad.

The way most teams defend a power play is by packing in down low, and then point men are left open. When shots from the point aren't a threat a key player like Kane can be sealed off.

Brent Seabrook and Nick Leddy should get the majority of power play ice time. Seabrook is the Hawks best point shot and Leddy is pretty good as well.

Stan Bowman should consider acquiring a center that can win faceoffs and play special teams. Andrew Shaw tries to cause havoc in front of the opposition's net, but another big body with good hands would help improve the power play.

The difference in many games boils down to taking advantage of power play opportunities.

Sunday night was a rare occasion when all Blackhawk centers had a great night in the faceoff circle.

Jonathan Toews was a winner 76 percent of the time at the dot. Marcus Kruger had one of his best games in the faceoff circle as he won 8 of 13, for 62 percent.

As a team, the Oilers won only 38 percent of their faceoffs.

I will be back on Friday and you can follow me on Twitter @AlCimaglia.

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