CHICAGO — The Chicago Blackhawks and New York Islanders will each be looking for their first win when they play at United Center on Tuesday (8 p.m. ET; ESPN, NHL LIVE).
The Blackhawks (0-2-1) have been outscored 13-7 so far this season, including 8-1 in the first period, when they have allowed a goal within the opening 17 seconds in each of the past two games.
“It’s almost like you get behind the eight ball a little bit, and then all of a sudden maybe start tensing up, trying to force things because you’re playing catch-up, then things pile on and get worse,” Chicago forward Patrick Kane said Saturday. “But we’ll find a way to turn it around. I have a lot of confidence in the team. We have the coaching staff, we’ll find a way to get out from underneath this.”
Blackhawks coach Jeremy Colliton said Monday that his team has been “making decisions that put us in a gambling position, and you’re hoping you come up with it and that’s not the right approach.
“We have to be harder to beat and a lot of that is decision making. Too many odd-man rushes the other way, particularly 2-on-1s, so that’s partly [the third forward] and that’s partly the [defense] being sharper with their decision making on the pinch. But to me, that should be pretty correctable and that’s something we’ve addressed.”
New York (0-2-0), meanwhile, has been outscored 11-4 this season, allowing at least five goals in consecutive games for the first time since Oct. 8-11, 2019.
Matt Martin, who missed the first two games because of an ankle injury, has been in the Islanders’ locker room following each game and said the frustration has stemmed from the manner of the losses.
“We’re a veteran team, we’ve dealt with a lot of different types of adversity through different points of the season, as well as the whole COVID thing going on and everything else,” said Martin, who will be a game-time decision Tuesday. “We’re a mature group, we know what’s expected of us and we just need to go out there and execute. When we’re playing our best hockey, we’re rolling four lines, everybody’s contributing and doing what’s asked of them. That’s what we have to do.”
The Islanders got more mature this offseason when they signed defenseman Zdeno Chara and forward Zach Parise in free agency. Chara, 44, was brought in to replace Nick Leddy, who was traded to the Detroit Red Wings on July 16. Parise, 37, has slotted in on the third line after Kyle Palmieri was bumped up to the top line to replace Jordan Eberle, who was selected by the Seattle Kraken in the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft.
“We have good guidelines that are being forwarded to us from the coaching staff and the system has been in place for some time in here,” said Chara, who is minus-3 through two games. “It’s not about the system, it’s about doing our jobs and doing it well and once we do that, I think everything’s going to fall in place.”
The Blackhawks were also active this offseason, acquiring goalie Marc-Andre Fleury in a trade with the Vegas Golden Knights, defenseman Seth Jones from the Columbus Blue Jackets, forward Tyler Johnson from the Tampa Bay Lightning, and defenseman Caleb Jones, Seth’s brother, from the Edmonton Oilers. They also signed defenseman Jake McCabe and welcomed the return of their captain, Jonathan Toews, who missed last season because of what is being called chronic immune response syndrome.
Fleury, who won the Vezina Trophy last season voted as the NHL’s best goaltender, is 0-2-0 with a 7.06 goals-against average and .826 save percentage (eight goals of 46 shots). Johnson and Seth Jones each has two assists but is minus-3, and Toews and McCabe each don’t have a point and is minus-4.
Like the Islanders, though, the Blackhawks are confident that over time those numbers will improve.
“It’s a lot of new guys, a lot of new faces and we’re implementing a lot,” Johnson said Monday. “It takes a little time to get into it and we’re only three games in. It’s one of those things that you just have to keep building on. I think we (can) get better and the more meetings and videos we have is good. It helps everyone get on that same page that we need to.”