Blackhawks’ defensemen unable to interrupt goal-scoring hex in loss to Devils

The frustration was evident throughout Seth Jones’ face even because the query was being requested: How can the Blackhawks create extra offense from their defensemen?

After a 4-2 loss to the Devils on Sunday, the staff remained tied for final within the NHL with only one objective by their total defensive corps. The woeful Sharks and top-heavy Capitals are their solely firm in that class; 28 of the league’s 32 groups boast a minimum of three objectives from defensemen.

“Yeah, we simply want extra objectives,” Jones mentioned, wiping his forehead. “We have to make extra performs on the blue line.”

The Hawks held a players-only staff assembly for about 20 minutes following the ultimate horn Sunday; elder statesmen Corey Perry described it as a “heart-to-heart.” Brutal schedule or not, the staff is understandably displeased with their 4-7-0 document, particularly contemplating they’ve but to string collectively consecutive wins at any level.

One other fast begin led by Taylor Corridor gave approach to one other poor second interval and a too-little-too-late third interval. The Devils completed with 21 high-danger scoring probabilities to the Hawks’ eight.

“The extra that we are able to depend on one another, the extra you may develop as a staff,” ahead Ryan Donato mentioned. “Clearly tonight, it harm slightly bit. Loads of the issues that we preach, we didn’t do, and it got here again to chew us.”

In Saturday’s extra uplifting victory over the Panthers, Nikita Zaitsev — an unlikely candidate to be the primary — lastly put a objective on the board for the Hawks’ defensive group. However he did in order the second wave of a transition assault, discovering a niche in the course of Florida’s protection whereas they scrambled again into place and receiving a intelligent go from Philipp Kurashev.

Which means Hawks defensemen nonetheless haven’t scored a single time from the blue line, neither by getting a sly wrist shot by means of site visitors nor blasting a one-timer previous a late-reacting goalie.

Getting into Sunday, they hadn’t even examined opposing goalies a lot. They lastly received extra pucks to the online in opposition to the Devils, ending with 13 photographs on objective from defensemen — together with six from Alex Vlasic, who returned from his concussion absence — however they have been unable to dent sharp New Jersey goalie Vitek Vanecek.

Apart from Jones, who’s now tied for thirtieth within the NHL with 21 photographs on objective, no different Hawk ranks among the many high 80 defensemen league-wide in that class.

Vlasic is tied for 81st with 14 photographs on objective, and Kevin Korchinski — whose give attention to limiting defensive miscues has stifled his pure offensive prowess early on — is tied for 123rd with 10. Veteran Connor Murphy has by no means been a lot of an offensive risk, however even his shot price is lagging properly behind earlier seasons; he has solely seven whole photographs on objective.

“When the forwards are climbing as much as the blue line, [we need] to know when to maneuver and create house — once they give it to us — so we’re not simply stationary and haven’t any different choice apart from to throw it down the boards,” Murphy mentioned not too long ago. “[It would help] us to get slightly extra movement — to have the ability to stroll the blue line and create these angles — to both hit our forwards or get good photographs by means of.”

After all, it have to be famous that the Hawks’ scoring woes aren’t unique to their defensemen. They’re struggling team-wide to supply sufficient photographs and scoring probabilities and, finally, sufficient objectives. The forwards — exterior of Connor Bedard and some different gentle shiny spots — are contributing to that, too.

Ex-Hawks struggling

Of all of the gamers the Hawks allowed to stroll in free company this previous summer time, defenseman Andreas Englund is the one one experiencing any success to date. That’s an sudden twist, however he has 4 factors in 11 video games for the Kings whereas averaging 12:07 of ice time.

Ian Mitchell has struggled whereas bouncing between the NHL and AHL with the Bruins, whereas Alec Regula has performed solely within the AHL within the Bruins group. Caleb Jones landed on the Avalanche’s AHL affiliate after failing to make the Hurricanes’ roster. 

Alex Stalock didn’t make the Geese’ roster and entered Sunday at 1-2-1 with a .910 save share in 4 AHL begins. Jujhar Khaira has made only one NHL look versus six AHL appearances for the Wild. Buddy Robinson is in Russia; Austin Wagner is in Sweden.

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