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Chicago Blackhawks Poor Play Continues

Chicago Blackhawks poor play continues as they drop in the standings. The Blackhawks started the season fantastically at 3-0-1. They led the Western Conference and looked unbeatable. Since then, however, their record has tanked and now stands at 5-5-2. Where did things go wrong? There are several factors contributing to their decline.

Chicago Blackhawks Poor Play Continues 

Goal Scoring

Through their first four games, the Chicago Blackhawks posted a 3-0-1 record, scoring 21 goals. Averaging 5.25 goals per game is an incredible pace for any NHL team. In their next eight games, the team has struggled, posting a 2-5-1 record. Frustratingly, the Blackhawks offense appears to have dried up as well. The Hawks have only managed 17 goals during this stretch, a paltry 2.13 goals per game.

As it stands today, they are 5-5-2 in eighth place in the Western Conference barely hanging on to the final Wild Card spot.

Line combinations

The last few games Coach Joel Quenneville has altered his forward lines trying to find success. Coach Q’s infamous “line blender” has been working overtime this season, but the Hawks are still struggling to score goals. At some point, the blending needs to stop so the players can find some consistency with their linemates.

Specialty Teams

The Power Play of the Blackhawks is in serious decline. Over the last week, they went from 19th in the league down to 28th. Their lack of power play production is costing them victories. The talent on the Blackhawks alone should have them in the top ten in the NHL. The problem is effort and willingness to get to the hard areas that lead to goals. They play too much on the perimeter. The focus is on making the perfect play, and it seems to be a scenario of the perfect being the enemy of the good. The Hawks need to focus on getting shots to the net and creating havoc in front of the goalie. This isn’t exactly their strong suit, unfortunately. They need to seek out net-front presence which they can use to generate more from the power play. If the Hawks want to be a serious contender, they need to improve their power play efficiency. 

Their penalty kill has also declined over the last week. They slipped from seventh in the league down to 14th. The Blackhawks are taking too many penalties to be successful. Many of members of the penalty kill unit also play on the power play. This is overexposing some players and wearing them out. The Hawks leaders In Penalty Kill Time On Ice stats are, Brandon Saad (29.11), Jonathan Toews (27.17), Artem Anisimov (28.1), Brent Seabrook (33.41), and Duncan Keith (41.50). Keith, Saad, Toews, and Seabrook are also some of the Hawks leaders in minutes on the power play. The Hawks need to decrease the penalties they’re taking, which will undoubtedly help the power play and team play overall.

Moving Forward

After the huge roster turnover this past summer, the Chicago Blackhawks are exactly where they should be. They are a middle of the pack team, despite the hot start which had visions of Stanley Cups dancing in their fans eyes. It may take a lot more time than expected for them to get back to their usual dominant play. The loyal Blackhawk fan’s patience will be tested over the next few months. If the mediocrity continues late into the season, I expect questions of “Has Coach Q lost the team?” to begin to surface. Let’s hope the players turn it around before then.
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