Hawks still hammering out details, fall 4-1 in preseason loss to Blues
Tuesday night started with a giant Blackhawks hype montage.
It included a video about the origins of the Blackhawks' team name and how its roots are important to the organization. It contained clips of Blackhawks greats, Tony Esposito and Stan Mikita.
And then the preseason game began.
There were four penalties in the first four minutes. There were no fans in the upper 300-level of the United Center -- the team didn't sell those tickets. And the only time the Blackhawks' goal horn sounded and "Chelsea Dagger" played was with a minute to go in the second period.
But that's OK. That's what preseason is for. It's for hammering out the small details. The Hawks fell 4-1 to the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday -- but they weren't that worried about the loss.
Before the game, head coach Luke Richardson said the team was focusing on two areas: "We want to see steps in our structure in our D-zone, playing really fast and killing some plays and transitioning that into some offense. Same thing in the neutral zone."
After Tuesday's game, Richardson said, "Overall, (other than) the one breakdown on the goal in the third period in the D-zone, pretty good to start off, and then in the neutral zone, off and on. I think (at times) we decided to get off our game plan and play slow, when our forwards take the puck back towards the defense, that's playing slow ... we want to play faster."
The preseason is also for getting the young guys, like Kevin Korchinski, some minutes and experience against full-time NHL players.
It was Korchinski's first time playing in an NHL game, and while he acknowledged that it's something he's dreamed about since he was a kid, he was going into the game confidently.
"I think for me I've grown up playing hockey," Korchinski said before the game, "but hockey just comes to me, it's what I love to do, so I think just going out there, I'm going to try and have fun and play my game and play the best to my ability. I've put in the work my whole life, so now it's just go out there and play."
Richardson wanted to see the 18-year-old defenseman get a little more involved on offense and shoot the puck a little bit more, saying that when you're 18 years old, you have the tendency to be the good guy and give the puck to the veterans, but being the good guy really means playing to the best of your ability.
"His skating ability was great and really no trouble in most of the D-zone coverages," Richardson said after the game. "Offensive and moving the puck, he really does that well, and he had a great chance in the second period ... he played with some composure with the puck made some nice passes and that's his game."
Another preseason objective is to keep building chemistry, especially for this Blackhawks team who is dealing with restoring this team back to playoff contention.
Richardson said they've slowed things down in practice just to assure that the players are understanding his new system, so as to not give them too much too soon because "then you lose everything." With this approach, he said the players have been listening and talking about it with each other, creating a common understanding of what's going on.
Sure, the Blackhawks lost, and sure, they might lose a lot this season, but for now, that's not the most important thing right now. The team is figuring out the new system and trying out the prospects.
It was a work in progress, and it will be a work in progress on Wednesday when they play the Detroit Red Wings.
"For us, we've got six games," center Colin Blackwell said after the game, "and it's really just trying to figure out the little things. "