For better or for worse, the Blackhawks have been entertaining. They haven’t been playing complete games, but they’ve been fun to watch.
Through much of Saturday’s game, it looked like the Hawks would turn in perhaps their first all-around performance of the season. But true to form, the Hawks once again couldn’t hold a lead and made things hard on themselves before beating St. Louis 4-3 on Alex DeBrincat’s overtime goal.
Patrick Kane and Artem Anisimov scored to give the Hawks a 2-0 first-period lead, and DeBrincat beat Jake Allen with 6:54 left in the third to tie the game at 3 after the Blues had scored three straight, making the Hawks the first team to play five straight overtime games to start a season.
“We seem to give away leads and then be able to come back,” DeBrincat said. “I think we’ve got to figure out a way to keep the lead from the start. I think we’re coming out and playing well, getting two-goal leads and they seem to disappear.
“We’ve got to do something about that.”
In short, Saturday night ended up mirroring the first four games of the season when chances flowed freely for the Hawks and their opponents. The lowest-scoring games, if that’s the proper term for it, were a pair of 4-3 finals before another 4-3 finish Saturday.
Fun to watch? Sure. Is that something that will need addressing sooner or later? Yeah, probably. But coach Joel Quenneville wasn’t panicking too much about the blue line before Saturday’s game.
“I still think our team defense can improve on a regular basis all yearlong on a regular basis,” Quenneville said. “I don’t think that’s ever going to be nailed. There’s a lot of good players in our league and a lot of guys can make plays and we expect that.”
The Hawks have seen some of the league’s best players, namely the high-flying Maple Leafs last Sunday. And the seven goals they allowed showed that didn’t go well. Not every team has the Maple Leafs’ menagerie of offensive talent, but all NHL teams have players capable of hurting a struggling blue line.
So far, the Hawks have learned that the hard way.
“Adapting to how we want to play technically, it’s not a problem. I still think we can all be better. And the little tweaks we made I think that come in second nature will be improved on a regular basis and so far that’s been OK,” Quenneville said. “How we play in our end, we don’t want to spend as much time as we did last year in our own end and I think that’s the focus of what we’re trying to get better at and we can play more offense, which we want.”
The Hawks had to play more offense after giving away their 2-0 lead. DeBrincat has been a key part of the attack, and the second-year man now has six goals in five games for a Hawks team that’s 3-0-2 despite plenty of high drama.
DeBrincat was encouraged that the Hawks are finding ways to collect points.
“We’re resilient out there and we want to come back and win every game,” he said. “I think it gives us some confidence to come back, but we definitely would rather just keep the lead we have.”
That would be more sustainable than the current style.
“We’re going to try to not go to overtime too much and try to win in regulation,” DeBrincat said. “That’s the goal, but we’re going to take every point we can get and try to keep putting some wins (together).”
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