Offensive Matériel

So there I was, daydreaming about the 210 pound center the Hawks can suddenly afford but can’t find, and I started doodling some numbers for the current roster.

The table below summarizes average goals scored over each player’s career (regular plus post-season games, normalized to an 82 game season) for current Blackawks players:

Grand total: 279 goals. Now, last year the Vancouver Canucks led the league with 258 goals. I must be overlooking something obvious here, right?

The grim reaper (morbidity setting)

The wild card, of course, is injuries. The above numbers might be realistic expectations for any one of the players, but not for all of them, because that would be an injury-free season.

Fair enough. And when a guy goes down, especially a key guy, it can have ripple effects throughout the roster. Last year, the Hawks weren’t so good when not at full strength.

If the Hawks suffer multiple serious injuries to big names above, it would prolly be a long season regardless. This team does not, I believe, have the depth of, say, Pittsburgh. So, let’s just ignore that scenario.

However, the 2011-12 Blackhawks have upgraded their depth to withstand a single big injury, or a smattering of lesser injuries, better. Note three forward names missing above: Kruger, Morin, and Smith. All three of these guys logged minutes, including some big minutes, for the Hawks last season. They’re all a year older and more seasoned, and should be able to fill in credibly as needed.

Over the hill?

Still, 279 goals is crazy talk, isn’t it? Aren’t Brunette, Hossa, and Mayers past their prime?

Well, let’s think about those three. First off Mayers is barely worth talking about. His 8 goals could easily be achieved by Kruger.

As for Brunette, it’s true that his goal total fell to 18 last year. But his numbers are amazingly consistent. He’s missed only nine games over the past eleven years, and scored at least 15 goals in every one of those years. He netted 25 just two years ago. And he’s likely going to be playing with Toews and Kane and on the first power play unit, so…

What about Hossa? Prior to joining the Hawks, he had averaged 36 goals per year over the prior nine years. With the Hawks, 24 and 25. What happened, kemosabe? Well, injuries. Hoss only played in 57 and 65 games the past two seasons. The fact is, these numbers translate to a scoring clip with the Hawks of about 33 goals per full season (although the clip drops to 29 if you include Hoss’s underwhelming playoffs.)

So 35 may be a stretch for Hossa- 30 may be more realistic.

“What is a yute?”

But this argument can be turned around. Surely, Toews, Kane, Bolland and Seabrook are on an upward trajectory, while Sharp and Keith still have several prime years in front of them.

Overall, it seems to me if there is a “trajectory” adjustment to the historical numbers, it is upward.

Top of the pops?

I guess I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Hawks put up 270 next year. In all likelihood, they will be at or near the top of the league in scoring.

Which shouldn’t surprise anyone. The 2010-11 Blackhawks, that team that drove fans to exasperation, was fourth in the league with 252 goals. In fact, the Hawks have finished in the top four each of the past three seasons, scoring 260 and 262 the two previous seasons.

Now just imagine if Stan puts the rest of that moolah to good use.

Tags: Blackhawks Canucks NHL

  • DaleHalas

    “The Chicago Blackhawks are a defensive team that scores a lot of points.” Love that quote/mantra. The Hawks aren’t trying to “out score” their opponents. That’s why challenging for the scoring title in the league is such a bonus. And I agree with you, they are more then capable of doing it.

    Last year the Hawks had no depth. An injury to Hossa and Bolland and half the forwards were close to minimum wage guys. This year they have prospects Kruger, Morin and Smith capable of filling in. A couple of those guys might even start. So even with some injuries they can still be a dangerous offensive team.

  • ChicagoNativeSon

    A good part of me doubts Hossa will ever pot 35 goals in a season again, but hot damn, wouldn’t that be sweet?

    Hossa’s scoring pace next season might be one of the best gauges as to how the 2nd line (by committee?) is working out, but maybe even a decent gauge of the team’s overall strength. Because if that line gets settled in, look out.

    I don’t care if he uses a cane to shoot, if Brunette spends most of the season with Kane and Tazer, no way he doesn’t score 25.

    Take off 20 goals or so due to injuries, yup, you should be in the ballpark. And wait – these guys play defense too?? Sorry Vancouver.

  • FrankRekas

    If Hossa can score 35 goals a season, imagine what that would do to this teams offensive output, provided everyone else does their share. He seems to be recognized now for his “complete” play, rather than his overall goal scoring skill. That’s ok as long as the others are doing their part.

    I think that the addition of Brunette is perfect for the first line with Kane and Toews. Working the corners and the “dirty” areas, he’ll be just what they need. It also gives some of the younger guys more time to get ready, which is just fine. We were missing role type players last year and we seem to have that resolved for this coming season.

    If your averages actually work out, this will be an even more dangerous club.

  • K_Dog

    Looking at goals from each player’s average and team total perspective is a cool idea. I’ve never thought about it that way.

    I didn’t realize how durable Brunette has been. Wow! (knocking on simulation wood grain formica)

    That last sentence – what a tease.

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  • cliffkoroll

    @FrankRekas Yeah, 35 is prolly optimistic. Hoss doesn’t get #1 PP time in Chicago. But still, 30 for a full year seems reasonable.

    OTOH, I would not be surprised if, e.g. Toews hit 40 or Bolland 25.

  • hawks4cup

    Just stumbled on this hawks blog and I’m glad I did. Read this and your last piece Brian and both were very well done.

    Funny thing is I just did this excersise earlier in the week and came up with a similar conclusion, I’m I looking at this correctly?

    As others have posted I think Hossa at 35 is unlikely, I dropped him to 25. Other than that I don’t see much to deduct. Injuries were brought up but you don’t lose 100% of the production for the time the player is gone because the player filling in will capture some of the production.

    I guess you can say maybe 10 more goals could be lost to “normal” injuries but really not much more.

    Conclusion is that this team should be one of the highest goal scoring teams in the league this coming year and easily could be the top team. So the season will come down to how Crawford and the new defense plays.

    Last season the Hawks were a much better team on paper than they finished in the standings. They scored a lot of goals and had one of the better goal differentials in the league. They lost a lot of 1 goal games last year that probably can be attributed to youth and fatigue from the cup run. I think there is every reason to believe this coming season our Hawks will be one of the best teams in the league.

  • cliffkoroll

    @hawks4cup Thanks man. As I wrote this, it dawned on me just how good the Hawks offense has been the past few years. As Dale mentioned below, we are accustomed to thinking of them as a defense first team, but that’s not entirely accurate.

    The third period last year was a disaster- this is a topic that prolly merits further consideration.

    Thanks again.

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  • DaleHalas

    Yea, Cliff but the question is, did they play bad defense last year. Or did they play two 500K – 5th and 6th d-men and a 7th in John Scott that resulted in, well, the defensive results they had last year?

  • ChicagoNativeSon

    @DaleHalas I’m with you that depth was more of an issue than arguments that state players simply under-performed. Hawks 2011 were as good or better than any team in the league when fully healthy. We just didn’t get to see much of that. 1 or 2 injuries could (and did) do them in.

    Would you therefore say excessive minutes overall by the top lines led to fatigue in the 3rd period of games?

  • CodyPugh

    This was my projection of the ‘Hawks starting forward lines. I think they will be the best four-line scoring team in the NHL.

  • DaleHalas

    @John Schultz It’s was explained to me that it is the lack of recovery time between shifts that is the issue. When one team is rolling 4 lines and 3 d-pair to the other teams 3 and 2, you can wear that team down. And it is the mental mistakes from being more tired then your opponent that causes the most problems.

    Also, Q “hides” his weakest players by playing them more in offensive situations and against lesser opposition talent (see John Scott’s quality of competition stat). That means the core needed to pick up the slack. That extra burden was also an issue, imo.

  • cliffkoroll

    @CodyPugh i liked your article too. as many have said, all conceivable line combinations will see the light of day.