What to take away from Chicago Blackhawks' opening-season loss
Season openers in the NHL, NBA and Major League Baseball are the perfect time for fans and media members to overreact.
It's only natural, especially considering the short attention spans we've developed over the years.
The perfect example came when the Chicago Blackhawks completely throttled Pittsburgh 10-1 in the 2017 opener.
The Hawks are back and playoff bound once again!
Ehhhh, not so fast.
We all know what happened two months later: A Corey Crawford concussion torpedoed any postseason hopes, and coach Joel Quenneville's squad plunged right into the Central Division basement.
So reading too much into the Hawks' 4-3 loss to Philadelphia in Prague on Friday would be a fool's errand.
Alex Nylander, Alex DeBrincat and Patrick Kane scored for the Hawks. Kane's goal came with Corey Crawford pulled for the extra attacker with 1:57 remaining.
Here are my five takeaways from what transpired 4,534 miles away from Chicago:
1. Help wanted:
The Hawks desperately need defensemen Connor Murphy and Calvin de Haan healthy ASAP. (Both missed the game due to injury).
Dennis Gilbert had his moments, but it was his turnover that led to the Flyers' first goal 6:24 into the game. And Slater Koekkoek was OK, but he had a puck bounce off his midsection and past Crawford while the Hawks were short-handed in the second period.
Murphy and de Haan will get the Hawks out of their own zone cleaner, they'll help on the penalty kill and likely sustain more offensive pressure as well.
2. Sloppy Joes:
Of course, blaming this defeat on the Hawks' third D pairing would be silly.
The Hawks failed to generate many Grade A scoring chances because of poor puck management, inconsistent backchecking by their forwards and an overall lack of intensity.
"We turned way too many pucks over, and that's where we exposed ourselves defensively," coach Jeremy Colliton told reporters. "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. But we've got to find a way to limit the damage."
3. Net positive:
While Corey Crawford would probably like to have 2 of the Flyers' 4 goals back, he also turned away about 6 shots that could have gone in. Crawford (34 saves) looked like his old self, and that certainly bodes well for the Hawks.
4. Looking good:
It appears David Kampf, Brandon Saad and Dominik Kubalik will form one impressive third line this season. The trio combined for 11 of the Hawks' 31 shots on goal and nearly scored on a gorgeous Kampf to Saad to Kubalik passing play late in the first period.
5. Strange game:
For the most part, the Flyers did a good job of limiting Kane's chances. He finished with just 2 shot attempts, the second of which resulted in the Hawks' third goal in the waning minutes. Kane also registered 2 assists.
Still, he wasn't a consistent threat. Some of that was due to his teammates' sloppy play, but a lot of it had to do with how the Flyers blanketed Kane much of the night and rarely let him work in space.
So while Nylander did notch an impressive goal in the first period, it will be interesting to see if Colliton eventually elects to pair Kane and Jonathan Toews with a grittier forward such as Andrew Shaw or Drake Caggiula.
We'll find out soon enough as the Hawks are set to open a seven-game homestand against the vaunted San Jose Sharks on Thursday.
If they stumble through that stretch, well, then go ahead and start panicking.