Blackhawks News

Chicago Blackhawks Week Ahead At The Circus (Part II)

By Colin Likas
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That “flip the switch” moment still hasn’t happened for the Chicago Blackhawks this season as we get ready for the second half of the annual circus road trip. The hope was that some weak competition in the trip’s first three games would lead to some stockpiled points. Instead, the Blackhawks came away with just three of six after beating Edmonton (in overtime), losing to Calgary (in overtime) and losing to Vancouver.

We’re certainly still early in the season, and I’ve written before how Blackhawks fans shouldn’t panic about their team being out of first place, as it’s just making the playoffs that matters for this club in the current era. But we’re getting a large enough sample size of this team to see that we might have a little more to worry about than initially believed. Key parts of the core are struggling while younger guys and some of the offseason additions are still trying to adapt to Blackhawks hockey. Hopefully, this week of games serves as a turning point of sorts.

It would be a good-looking turning point, as earning wins this week on the tougher half of the circus trip would serve as a fair confidence booster. Before we discuss those outings, let’s go through the stats and standings updates.

Forwards

Artem Anisimov: 21 games, 9 goals, 6 assists, plus-4 rating, 2 penalty minutes, 32 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: 9 games, 1 goal, 1 assist, 0 rating, 2 penalty minutes, 9 shots

Andrew Desjardins: 18 games, 0 goals, 0 assists, minus-9 rating, 2 penalty minutes, 19 shots

Ryan Garbutt: 18 games, 1 goal, 2 assists, minus-4 rating, 19 penalty minutes, 39 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: 18 games, 3 goals, 6 assists, minus-1 rating, 2 penalty minutes, 51 shots

Patrick Kane: 21 games, 13 goals, 19 assists, plus-11 rating, 10 penalty minutes, 77 shots

Tanner Kero: 12 games, 1 goal, 1 assist, minus-2 rating, 0 penalty minutes, 20 shots

Marcus Kruger: 21 games, 0 goals, 1 assist, minus-5 rating, 14 penalty minutes, 24 shots

Artemi Panarin: 21 games, 7 goals, 14 assists, plus-2 rating, 4 penalty minutes, 51 shots

Andrew Shaw: 21 games, 2 goals, 3 assists, plus-1 rating, 10 penalty minutes, 28 shots

Teuvo Teravainen: 18 games, 4 goals, 5 assists, plus-3 rating, 6 penalty minutes, 32 shots

Viktor Tikhonov: 11 games, 0 goals, 0 assists, minus-4 rating, 6 penalty minutes, 11 shots

Jonathan Toews: 21 games, 7 goals, 7 assists, plus-3 rating, 26 penalty minutes, 52 shots

Defensemen

Trevor Daley: 21 games, 0 goals, 5 assists, 0 rating, 4 penalty minutes, 33 shots

Erik Gustafsson: 6 games, 0 goals, 3 assists, plus-5 rating, 0 penalty minutes, 8 shots

Niklas Hjalmarsson: 21 games, 0 goals, 4 assists, minus-3 rating, 10 penalty minutes, 27 shots

Duncan Keith: 11 games, 2 goals, 3 assists, 0 rating, 4 penalty minutes, 17 shots

Michal Rozsival: 5 games, 0 goals, 0 assists, minus-2 rating, 0 penalty minutes, 5 shots

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

Brent Seabrook: 21 games, 4 goals, 11 assists, plus-1 rating, 6 penalty minutes, 44 shots

Viktor Svedberg: 15 games, 1 goal, 1 assist, minus-1 rating, 2 penalty minutes, 23 shots

Trevor van Riemsdyk: 21 games, 2 goals, 2 assists, minus-3 rating, 7 penalty minutes, 21 shots

Goaltenders

Corey Crawford: 16 starts, 9 wins, 6 losses, 1 OT loss, 2 shutouts, .910 save percentage, 2.61 goals-allowed average

Scott Darling: 5 starts, 2 wins, 2 losses, 1 OT loss, 0 shutouts, .912 save percentage, 2.51 goals-allowed average

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That was a rough week in the stats department. The only true bright spots are the second line and the backup goaltender, and that isn’t a whole lot to go on. The Panarin-Anisimov-Kane line continues to rake, and it now has three of the top four point earners on the team (Seabrook breaks that up at No. 3). Still, each of the three saw a nasty drop in their plus/minus rating over the last week, with each tumbling either three or four points. To be fair, very few Blackhawks didn’t see a drop this week, but those differentials in particular are noticeable. With the second line being the only one doing any consistent scoring, Joel Quenneville has to put it out in pretty much all situations right now. Thus, a drop in plus/minus. It would be supremely beneficial if lines containing defensive-minded players (those with Toews, Hossa and Kruger) started getting some scoring as well.

Darling saw his second consecutive start against Calgary last week, and he played well enough to earn the win. Unfortunately, his teammates didn’t provide a ton of assistance in that decision. Meanwhile, Crow had a down week, and while the defense in front of him has certainly been suspect, he just has to come up with some more big saves moving forward. Another caveat: His overtime snag against Edmonton gave the Blackhawks their only two-point game of the week, so it’s not like he’s the sole or primary reason for the Blackhawks’ struggles.

On to the Central Division standings.

Dallas: 17-4-0, 34 points, 17 regulation/overtime wins, 74 goals for, 50 goals against

St. Louis: 13-6-2, 28 points, 12 regulation/overtime wins, 57 goals for, 52 goals against

Minnesota: 11-5-3, 25 points, 11 regulation/overtime wins, 57 goals for, 51 goals against

Nashville: 11-5-3, 25 points, 9 regulation/overtime wins, 53 goals for, 48 goals against

Chicago: 11-8-2, 24 points, 11 regulation/overtime wins, 57 goals for, 55 goals against

Winnipeg: 10-9-2, 22 points, 10 regulation/overtime wins, 57 goals for, 65 goals against

Colorado: 7-12-1, 15 points, 7 regulation/overtime wins, 56 goals for, 61 goals against

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Spots 2-6 are relatively tight, with four teams in that range all scoring 57 goals so far. Unfortunately for the Blues, Blackhawks and Jets, they’ve all played 21 games apiece while Minnesota and Nashville have each played just 19. Dallas is trying to run away with the division early, and while the Stars could sustain their current rate of success, it seems more likely they’ll falter at some point. Who’s there to attempt a coup is uncertain, but it looks like the Blues are the current favorite. Paul Stastny will return tonight against Buffalo, so they’re getting healthier at a good time. On the opposite side, the Jets lost goaltender Ondrej Pavelec until at least January or February with a knee strain, so Michael Hutchinson will need to be a lot better in the Great White North.

With those two glances out of the way, let’s take a peek at the Blackhawks’ three opponents this week.

Next: A Glance At San Jose, Anaheim and Los Angeles

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