Jan 4, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks defensemanDuncan Keith
(2) with the puck during the first period against the Dallas Stars at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
The Blackhawks seemed to have hit a rough patch right before the All-Star break. They have dropped three of four games and they were not close. In three out of their last four losses, they have allowed four or more goals. Most people would want to lay those losses on the feet of Corey Crawford. However it is not all Crawford fault on these losses, he can only stop so many shots and if forwards are left wide open, he cannot help it. That is why I have given my three reasons why for the Blackhawks struggles.
Here are three reasons why the Blackhawks defense is struggling right now:
The first reason is the Blackhawks defense has been negative in the plus minus ratings. In the loss to the LOWLY Oilers our top defensive pairing of Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook were a combined minus six rating. Both defenseman were equally bad. The second pairing was better with Niklas Hjalmarsson and Johnny Oduya going plus two rating. The final pairing of Michal Rozsival and David Rundblad were a zero rating for the game. So against Edmonton, it was the TOP defensive pairing letting the Hawks down.
In their next loss to Winnipeg, the top pair of Keith and Seabrook were better but still not good. Their plus minus rating was a minus two for the game. Hjalamrsson was a minus one on the second pairing and Rozsival was a positive one. The top defensive pairing took the brunt of the plus minus rating on that one. In the Blackhawks third loss, only Niklas Hjalmarsson and Brent Seabrook were not in the minus for the game.
Now the Plus minus for the last three losses does not tell the whole story, the Blackhawks are allowing an average of 35 shots per game in those games. The Blackhawks average for season currently is 29.6 which puts them 17th in the NHL. The last three games would rank them LAST IN THE NHL in shots allowed. Crawford cannot stop that many shots a night and that is the second reason why the Blackhawks defense is struggling.
The third reason for the Blackhawks struggling is their sixth defenseman. Both Rundblad and Tim Erixon CANNOT CONSISTENT play at the NHL level. There is a reason that Erixon is with his third NHL franchise in five seasons. Rundblad is now with third organization in six seasons. If both of these players were ANY good one of the first two franchises would have held onto them. That is the longer answer, the short answer is both Rundbald and Erixson SUCK.
The Blackhawks are in desperate need of Trevor van Riemsdyk. TVR was playing solid hockey for the Blackhawks before his injury and was gaining confidence with every shift. Once TVR is fully healthy and used to playing again, expect to RARELY see Rundblad and never see Erixson.
Those are my three reasons for the Blackhawks defensive struggling, what are yours?? Leave them in the comment below.
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