Blackhawks News

Chicago Blackhawks Week Ahead Actually Gets Busy

By Colin Likas
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For the first time this season, the Chicago Blackhawks will play four games in between my weekly updates. No five-day, three-day or even two-day breaks here, folks. While you may fear hearing that with the Blackhawks’ struggles of late, they do tend to perform better when they can stay in action more consistently. So this might be exactly what the doctor ordered.

The Blackhawks started the previous week with an uninspiring (outside goaltender Corey Crawford‘s performance) 1-0 win against struggling Anaheim. They followed that with two days off and losses on both ends of a road back-to-back, at Winnipeg (3-1) and at Minnesota (5-4). The offense finally woke up from its lengthy slumber in the latter game, but the defense and backup goaltender Scott Darling were not up to the task at Excel Energy Center.

And so, after another two days off, the promotion of Marko Dano and the demotion of Bryan Bickell, the Blackhawks will get back to it tonight at the United Center against the red-hot Los Angeles Kings. First, the updated stat sheet for Chicago:

Forwards

Artem Anisimov: 11 games, 4 goals, 1 assist, plus-2 rating, 2 penalty minutes, 16 shots

Kyle Baun: 2 games, 0 goals, 0 assists, minus-2 rating, 0 penalty minutes, 1 shot

Bryan Bickell: 7 games, 0 goals, 0 assists, minus-3 rating, 0 penalty minutes, 5 shots

Andrew Desjardins: 11 games, 0 goals, 0 assists, minus-3 rating, 2 penalty minutes, 11 shots

Ryan Garbutt: 10 games, 0 goals, 1 assist, minus-3 rating, 11 penalty minutes, 25 shots

Ryan Hartman: 1 game, 0 goals, 0 assists, 0 rating, 0 penalty minutes, 2 shots

Vincent Hinostroza: 4 games, 0 goals, 0 assists, 0 rating, 2 penalty minutes, 4 shots

Marian Hossa: 11 games, 1 goal, 3 assists, minus-4 rating, 0 penalty minutes, 32 shots

Patrick Kane: 11 games, 6 goals, 8 assists, plus-5 rating, 0 penalty minutes, 38 shots

Tanner Kero: 2 games, 0 goals, 0 assists, minus-1 rating, 0 penalty minutes, 8 shots

Marcus Kruger: 11 games, 0 goals, 0 assists, minus-3 rating, 8 penalty minutes, 9 shots

Artemi Panarin: 11 games, 2 goals, 8 assists, plus-4 rating, 2 penalty minutes, 24 shots

Andrew Shaw: 11 games, 0 goals, 1 assist, minus-1 rating, 10 penalty minutes, 15 shots

Teuvo Teravainen: 10 games, 2 goals, 1 assist, minus-1 rating, 4 penalty minutes, 22 shots

Viktor Tikhonov: 8 games, 0 goals, 0 assists, minus-4 rating, 4 penalty minutes, 10 shots

Jonathan Toews: 11 games, 4 goals, 3 assists, plus-1 rating, 10 penalty minutes, 28 shots

Defensemen

Trevor Daley: 11 games, 0 goals, 2 assists, minus-1 rating, 2 penalty minutes, 15 shots

Erik Gustafsson: 1 game, 0 goals, 1 assist, plus-1 rating, 0 penalty minutes, 1 shot

Niklas Hjalmarsson: 11 games, 0 goals, 1 assist, minus-2 rating, 4 penalty minutes, 13 shots

Duncan Keith: 6 games, 0 goals, 2 assists, minus-2 rating, 0 penalty minutes, 8 shots

David Rundblad: 5 games, 0 goals, 0 assists, minus-2 rating, 6 penalty minutes, 8 shots

Brent Seabrook: 11 games, 3 goal, 5 assists, 0 rating, 2 penalty minutes, 25 shots

Viktor Svedberg: 10 games, 1 goal, 0 assists, minus-1 rating, 2 penalty minutes, 15 shots

Trevor van Riemsdyk: 11 games, 1 goal, 1 assist, plus-2 rating, 5 penalty minutes, 13 shots

Goaltenders

Corey Crawford: 8 starts, 5 wins, 3 losses, 2 shutouts, .938 save percentage, 1.76 goals-allowed average

Scott Darling: 3 starts, 1 win, 2 losses, 0 shutouts, .880 save percentage, 3.37 goals-allowed average

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Well … some statistics certainly changed. Crawford is still the clubhouse leader in good things to talk about, as despite his 5-3-0 record, he has a stellar save percentage and goals-against average. If the Blackhawks offense can start clicking in front of him and he continues to play at this rate, good things will happen for the men in the Indian Head.

Among the skaters, good to see Gustafsson get on the scoresheet in his first NHL game. He and Hartman, in their 2015-16 NHL openers, combined for three shots, while Kero had eight shots in two games. These are the numbers you want to see from your young guns. It’s clear they aren’t afraid to get to the net and take their shots (obviously Gustafsson has to be a little more careful with that on the blue line).

Two interesting things, from my point of view: 1) Garbutt trails only Kane, Hossa, Toews and Seabrook in shots on goal thus far, and he really has been one of the Blackhawks’ better forwards to this point; 2) Toews is one of three guys on the team in double-digit penalty minutes, which is certainly not what you want to see from the team captain who is one of the league’s better on-ice players. This will likely correct itself soon.

If the stats update didn’t make you squirm, an updated look at the Central Division standings certainly will:

Dallas: 9-2-2, 18 points, 9 regulation/overtime wins, 40 goals for, 30 goals against

St. Louis: 8-2-1, 17 points, 8 regulation/overtime wins, 30 goals for, 23 goals against

Minnesota: 7-2-2, 16 points, 7 regulation/overtime wins, 35 goals for, 32 goals against

Nashville: 7-2-2, 16 points, 5 regulation/overtime wins, 32 goals for, 25 goals against

Winnipeg: 7-4-1, 15 points, 7 regulation/overtime wins, 36 goals for, 33 goals against

Chicago: 6-5-0, 12 points, 6 regulation/overtime wins, 24 goals for, 24 goals against

Colorado: 3-7-1, 7 points, 3 regulation/overtime wins, 27 goals for, 33 goals against

Yeah, so the Central Division is still good. The Stars have gone on an absolute tear since our last weekly update and are second in the league in goals scored (Montreal has 50 through two more games). The Blues are pulling their best St. Louis Cardinals act in winning while key pieces fall with injuries. Minnesota and Winnipeg each used a win against the Blackhawks last week to stay in striking distance, while the Predators are just one of three teams to win two shootouts already (they’re actually the only team in the Central to even be involved in a single shootout thus far).

So where does that leave the Blackhawks? With four games this week, in prime position to make up some ground. You can’t worry too much about what everyone else is doing when you’ve got as crowded a week ahead as Chicago does. After two games against tough foes in L.A. and St. Louis, the Blackhawks get two relative cookies in New Jersey and Edmonton. These standings will continue to be very competitive, yet very shifty, for the time being.

So how about those four games? Let’s get to it.

Next: A Glance At Los Angeles, St. Louis, New Jersey And Edmonton

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