In a way, the Chicago Blackhawks have made it to an important point in the season. Eighteen games out of 82 isn’t anything special (it accounts for about 22 percent of the regular season), but the Blackhawks are about to embark on their annual circus trip. After playing 11 of their first 18 games in the confines of the United Center, the Blackhawks are going to have to get better on the road — and quickly.
While the team earned a road win Saturday against the rival St. Louis Blues, that was only the second of the season against five losses. Chicago’s next six games are on the road, and it won’t see the UC again until December. So, if there was ever a time to gain some road confidence, it’d be now.
The circus trip has always been tough because it’s on the West coast, and along with being away from home so long, the Blackhawks have struggled against some of the Pacific Division’s teams in recent years. Well, this year offers a golden opportunity to rack up some points on the trip, as the Pacific is pretty much garbage right now. The Los Angeles Kings are the frontrunners with 22 points, one more than the Blackhawks. And Phoenix is in second. So you could say things aren’t going well over there.
But we’ll get to some of those teams later. First, the updated Blackhawks statistics.
Artem Anisimov: 18 games, 7 goals, 5 assists, plus-7 rating, 2 penalty minutes, 27 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
Marko Dano: 7 games, 1 goal, 1 assist, plus-1 rating, 2 penalty minutes, 8 shots
Andrew Desjardins: 16 games, 0 goals, 0 assists, minus-8 rating, 2 penalty minutes, 16 shots
Ryan Garbutt: 15 games, 0 goals, 2 assists, minus-5 rating, 15 penalty minutes, 34 shots
Ryan Hartman: 3 games, 0 goals, 1 assist, minus-1 rating, 0 penalty minutes, 3 shots
Vincent Hinostroza: 4 games, 0 goals, 0 assists, 0 rating, 2 penalty minutes, 4 shots
Marian Hossa: 15 games, 2 goals, 5 assists, minus-2 rating, 2 penalty minutes, 45 shots
Patrick Kane: 18 games, 13 goals, 15 assists, plus-14 rating, 8 penalty minutes, 68 shots
Tanner Kero: 9 games, 1 goal, 0 assists, minus-1 rating, 0 penalty minutes, 16 shots
Marcus Kruger: 18 games, 0 goals, 0 assists, minus-6 rating, 14 penalty minutes, 18 shots
Artemi Panarin: 18 games, 6 goals, 12 assists, plus-6 rating, 4 penalty minutes, 45 shots
Andrew Shaw: 18 games, 1 goal, 3 assists, minus-1 rating, 10 penalty minutes, 26 shots
Teuvo Teravainen: 17 games, 4 goals, 5 assists, plus-3 rating, 6 penalty minutes, 32 shots
Viktor Tikhonov: 10 games, 0 goals, 0 assists, minus-4 rating, 6 penalty minutes, 11 shots
Jonathan Toews: 18 games, 6 goals, 6 assists, plus-4 rating, 24 penalty minutes, 42 shots
Trevor Daley: 18 games, 0 goals, 3 assists, 0 rating, 2 penalty minutes, 32 shots
Erik Gustafsson: 6 games, 0 goals, 3 assists, plus-5 rating, 0 penalty minutes, 8 shots
Niklas Hjalmarsson: 18 games, 0 goals, 4 assists, minus-3 rating, 6 penalty minutes, 24 shots
Duncan Keith: 8 games, 1 goal, 3 assists, plus-2 rating, 2 penalty minutes, 12 shots
David Rundblad: 5 games, 0 goals, 0 assists, minus-2 rating, 6 penalty minutes, 8 shots
Brent Seabrook: 18 games, 4 goals, 9 assists, plus-4 rating, 4 penalty minutes, 40 shots
Viktor Svedberg: 15 games, 1 goal, 1 assist, minus-1 rating, 2 penalty minutes, 23 shots
Trevor van Riemsdyk: 18 games, 2 goals, 2 assists, minus-2 rating, 7 penalty minutes, 21 shots
Corey Crawford: 14 starts, 8 wins, 5 losses, 1 OT loss, 2 shutouts, .918 save percentage, 2.40 goals-allowed average
Scott Darling: 4 starts, 2 wins, 2 losses, 0 OT losses, 0 shutouts, .902 save percentage, 2.65 goals-allowed average
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Some good stuff to report in this weekly update thanks in large part to the last two games. Several plus/minus figures improved, though there’s still far too many minuses on the team at this point in the season. Kane’s stats look obnoxious next to everyone else’s, but that’s just the level he’s on right now. The captain’s stats also took a nice boost over the weekend, though that penalty-minute figure is pretty high, especially for him. Darling managed to clean up his numbers a bit in his spot start, getting his save percentage above .900 and goals-allowed average below 3.00. Overall, things are looking a little better than they were at this time last week, but there’s still ample room for improvement throughout the lineup.
On to the Central Division standings update.
Dallas: 14-4-0, 14 regulation/overtime wins, 65 goals for, 47 goals against
Minnesota: 10-3-3, 10 regulation/overtime wins, 48 goals for, 49 goals against
Nashville: 10-3-3, 8 regulation/overtime wins, 50 goals for, 38 goals against
St. Louis: 11-5-1, 11 regulation/overtime wins, 47 goals for, 41 goals against
Chicago: 10-7-1, 10 regulation/overtime wins, 49 goals for, 44 goals against
Winnipeg: 8-8-2, 8 regulation/overtime wins, 48 goals for, 59 goals against
Colorado: 7-9-1, 7 regulation/overtime wins, 49 goals for, 45 goals against
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This is a strange look in the Central, for a number of reasons. But Dallas clearly isn’t a fluke, as the Stars just keep on rolling no matter where they’re playing. They’re 7-2-0 at home and on the road, and a big reason for that is they score a ton. As you can see above, their goaltending is about average for the division, but their 65 goals in 18 games blow everyone else out of the water.
Now, I’m not sure how the Wild have managed to start as well as they have with a negative goal differential, but there they are. Devan Dubnyk certainly isn’t looking like the savior he made out to be last season. The Predators are doing what they do, AKA riding the goaltending of Pekka Rinne to wins. The Blues are on a two-game skid, which is always nice to see, especially when the Blackhawks have a hand in it. Their goaltending has been spotty at best, as Jake Allen has been thrust into the starting job after Brian Elliott was pretty awful in the early going.
And while the Avs are making a run, having won their last three games, the Jets are falling apart fast in Canada. Their goaltending has been abysmal, with both Ondrej Pavelec and Michael Hutchinson experiencing the early hook a couple times this season. That has consistently been in the issue since the Atlanta Thrashers moved to Winnipeg, and it looks as though last season’s netminding success was an anomaly.
But now we get to talk all about the Pacific Division. Away we go.
Next: A Glance At Edmonton, Calgary And Vancouver