The Chicago Blackhawks lost another uncharacteristic game Wednesday night against the St. Louis Blues, with the game winning goal occurring with only 21 seconds left to go. The Blackhawks will be making some adjustments it seems, going into a back-to-back on Friday and Saturday night.
Most importantly, Nikolai Khabiboulin will make his season debut this weekend, meaning everyone on the Blackhawks active roster will have played this season. The Blackhawks current record of 1-1-1 is unimpressive, and these two games will definitely have an emotional effect on the psyche of the team.
Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane both had two-point games despite the first regulation time loss of the season, as did Patrick Sharp, who may have to miss games depending on the birth of his daughter. Corey Crawford was beaten by incredible shots, and his 31 saves should not be forgotten. All that being said, who is to blame, and what needs changing?
Fans have to look no further than the penalty kill, something Coach Joel Quenneville has already begun to change. The Blackhawks’ penalty kill is currently among the last in the league so far, despite the sample size still being small. However, the team can afford to cut its losses right now, and a new unit has already begun to take shape.
Joakim Nordstrom earned his roster spot based on his penalty-kill prowess, and despite showing chemistry with Marcus Kruger, the time for a change is now. Kruger may move onto the third line and Nordstrom will center get his chance centering the fourth line, surrounded by Brandon Bollig and Ben Smith.
This is a very minor change, and would allow Michal Handzus to move on as the lead center of the penalty kill unit. However, the pressure will shift to Nordstrom, as if he cannot succeed on the wing or the power play, the amount of NHL shifts remaining for the young Swede this year could be numbered.
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