Blackhawks have forgettable weekend
Welp. That didn't go well.
The Blackhawks were truly outmatched this weekend by the Colorado Avalanche.
They were outscored 12-5 and fall to dead last in the Central Division with 25 points (10-11-5). They are only 1 point out of last in all of the Western Conference.
Before I touch on the Blackhawks, their upcoming schedule and the future of this season, I want to say a couple of things about the Avalanche.
If I'm Joe Sakic, I am going for it this year. This is a very, very good team with the making of an annual Stanley Cup contender.
I'm not just saying this because they mopped the floor with the Blackhawks.
I've watched enough hockey and love the way this COL team is put together. If GM Joe can add another forward (Taylor Hall would be my target), a veteran defenceman and goaltender for depth, this is my team to beat in the West.
They have the salary cap and assets to make moves and this is their time. Can't believe the Hawks have to play these guys 2 more times in December (Dec 18 & 21); get ready for that.
Back to the Hawks; what to do about this team?
Stan Bowman must be saying the same thing.
I liked the Hawks' GMs moves this offseason and predicted this team would be a bubble playoff team, just no one told me it'd be this hard.
Despite one hot streak, the Blackhawks have been below that bubble team that I, and many others, anticipated.
It isn't all bad; the Hawks have significantly lowered their goals against – going from 3.55 GA/game to 3.00 – which puts them at 18th in the league vs. 30th last season. This stat in 2019-20 was better before this weekend (2.75) – thanks a lot, Colorado.
The penalty kill is much improved as well with the 19th overall with an 80.5% success rate. We all know how historically awful the Hawks were last year with the man disadvantage.
While the Hawks didn't lose much in terms of scoring in the offseason (they actually gained some more offense), they have struggled to find that scoring touch that helped them so much last year.
It was their identity really; play fast, reckless and try to outscore their opponent.
Well, they are a more responsible team overall and up until the recent system tweak, the Hawks have been a team with scoring issues.
With a 2.85 GF/game, the Hawks sit 21st in the league.
Their woeful power play is a massive issue. It was painful to watch the Hawks try to turn the game around on Saturday on a 5-on-3 PP at the end of the 1st period, which included an extended man advantage at the end of that.
Not only did the Hawks not score, but they also gave up a goal immediately after the Hawks unsuccessful "power" play.
For the game on Saturday, CHI was 1-for-6 with 9:26 of man-advantage time, more than 2 minutes of which was 5-on-3.
Can the Hawks find their scoring touch? Will they find a way to turn around their PP?
… or is it all too late?
No. It's not too late but the Hawks will have to find their identity soon and hopefully, Keith, Strome, and Caggiula find their way back into the lineup sooner than later.
He's not the only player who's struggling right now, but am I going to call out Alex DeBrincat.
With 0(!) goals in the last 11 games and just 5(!) tallies on the season, The Cat needs to be much better if this team is going to be successful.
It was nice to see him playing pissed off with a nice fight vs. Samuel Girard on Saturday. I'm not sure if he was more upset about the late hit or the empty net he missed, regardless it was nice to see him have a pulse.
If people are upset that Alex Nylander hasn't produced alongside Toews and Saad, then the same criticism needs to be placed on DeBrincat who hasn't done much at all riding shotgun to Patrick Kane, the 3rd Star of the Month in November.
For most of the season, DeBrincat has looked off to me. He's mishandling pucks and making uncharacteristically bad decisions with the puck.
This could just be the signs of a young player who's put a lot of pressure on himself (especially after signing his first big contract) but whatever it is, he needs to get it turned around.
It will be interesting to see if Strome isn't back, if Debrincat stays on Kane's line. Heck, we're probably due for a line blender from Colliton to shake things up after Saturday's 7-3 loss anyway.
The Hawks take on the reigning Stanley Cup chances tonight. Then after the Blues, the Hawks will take on Boston (Thursday), New Jersey (Friday) and Arizona (Sunday).
On the content calendar, some upcoming blogs include Rockford updates, a check-in on CHI by the numbers (advanced analytics style) and a couple of scenarios of how this season could play out for CHI from here on out.
Stay tuned for more!
See ya out there.