Dec 14, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks celebrate a win against the Calgary Flames at the end of their NHL game at United Center. Blackhawks won 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports
Every Friday, or at least most Fridays, I bring Blackhawks fans my weekly column talking about whatever is on my mind each week. Well after some consideration, I wanted to take a new direction and talk about something a little different. Numbers drive sports. Stats are what folks use at the water cooler to get their point across.
Now, numbers and stats don’t always tell the entire story. But with a growing movement towards more advanced stats, these stats bear more weight and can lend more information about our favorite teams and players.
So this week, and for weeks going forward, I want to turn Friday into Fun with Numbers Friday. My hopes are that this column brings to life some numbers that will help shed light into the advanced stats world and help discuss the Chicago Blackhawks.
Without further ado, here is the first Fun with Numbers Friday.
Our first number this week is 18.50. That is the TOI/60 (minutes of ice time per game) for both Niklas Hjalmarsson and Duncan Keith. Two of the Hawks top 4 defensemen are averaging over 18 minutes a game. Their d-partners aren’t far behind though. Johnny Oduya clocks in at 17.85 and Brent Seabrook has a 16.54 TOI/60 of his own. These four rank as the top four in ice time on the Blackhawks. Hjalmarsson and Keith rank 15th and 16th respectively in the league with those ice times. Those numbers for Keith and Hjalmarsson are up from last year. For the Hawks to have success come playoff time, they need to get quality minutes out of all six of their defensemen. To see ice time minutes up for two of their better defensemen could be a red flag if they stay at that level or rise. Something to keep in mind as the season progresses.
A percentage is our second number of the week. Bryan Bickell’s offensive zone start is 68.8% through the first 32 games of the season. This number reflects the number of starts that Bickell starts in the offensive zone. There is only one person, Kris Versteeg, who’s percentage is higher. Compare that to guy like Marcus Kruger who’s offensive zone start is 28.5% and it shows what Coach Q is trying to do. He has a handful of guys that he trusts in the defensive zone, but less in the offensive zone. The reverse is also true. Through the first 32 games, with the line blender in full force, Q is trying to find what works and what doesn’t in terms of picking match-ups and finding players that work better in certain spots. Once again come playoff time, Q having a handle on who he can put out in each zone is key towards long term playoff success.
An eight game winning streak. The Hawks were able to put together an eight game winning streak, the longest in the NHL this season, without their star goaltender Corey Crawford. This is a tribute to their backup goaltending in Anti Raanta and Scott Darling, and to their fantastic cast in front of the crease that have performed at a higher level in Crawford’s absence. If a team can have this kind of winning streak without their star goalie, what can happen when he returns? Should excite Blackhawks fans to see what this team does when it’s back firing on all cylinders.