Blackhawks News

Chicago Blackhawks Month In Review: December

By Gail Kauchak
Dec 22, 2015; Dallas, TX, USA; Chicago Blackhawks right wing Patrick Kane (88) watches from the bench during the third period against the Dallas Stars at the American Airlines Center. The Stars shut out the Blackhawks 4-0. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 22, 2015; Dallas, TX, USA; Chicago Blackhawks right wing Patrick Kane (88) watches from the bench during the third period against the Dallas Stars at the American Airlines Center. The Stars shut out the Blackhawks 4-0. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports /
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Dec 19, 2015; Buffalo, NY, USA; Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Rob Scuderi (47) during the game against the Buffalo Sabres at First Niagara Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 19, 2015; Buffalo, NY, USA; Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Rob Scuderi (47) during the game against the Buffalo Sabres at First Niagara Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports /

Defense.  The biggest news of the month on the blue line is the trade of Trevor Daley to Pittsburgh in return for Rob Scuderi.  Everyone is pretty much scratching their head at this move, but the speculation is that Stan Bowman might still have something else up his sleeve before the trade deadline.

Of course, this hasn’t happened yet, so Scuderi has been inserted into the lineup.  He actually hasn’t been all that bad.  Much like Rozsival, he is consistent and dependable and has good positioning.  But also like Rozy, he is old and slow.

The blessing in disguise about the Scuderi trade might be that it has forced Q’s hand in regard to making a decision about David Rundblad.  Rundy has finally been put on waivers, cleared, and sent down to the Rockford IceHogs.   Meanwhile, Erik Gustafsson has been called up and will get another chance to become a regular part of the lineup.  This idea seems to be to have Scuderi and Rozsival take turns rotating in.  This gives Gustafsson an opportunity to be an everyday player, and allows the old men to stay relatively fresh and rested.  It appears to be a case of making the best out of a bad situation.

In the scoring department, Duncan Keith has retaken the helm in regards to being the best all-around defenseman on the team (you could argue in the league).  He only played half of November due to injury, but has been on fire in December with 2 goals and 10 assists, for 12 points.  He and Kane are an especially lethal duo.

Brent Seabrook still sits in third place overall on the team in points (6G, 19A for 25 points).  In December, he contributed with 1 goal and 5 helpers.   Our warrior- blocker friend, Niklas Hjalmarsson, has 4 assists.

Of the 15 games played in December, Corey Crawford played in 13 of them.  Fellow staff writer Tim Lively discussed in his latest article that he felt the coaching staff was leaning too much on Crow.  I would have to agree.  But Crawford has been hot lately, so much so that Coach Q opted to play him in back-to- back games.

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Crawford currently sports a .923 save percentage, and a 2.31 goals against average.  This is better than last month (.912 SV%, and 2.54 GA), and he’s played in 3 more games.  He is currently leading the league in shutouts, with 5.  Yes, he’s let in a few softies this month, but for the most part he appears to be focused and on track.

Meanwhile, Scott Darling put up a pretty dismal performance against Nashville earlier in the month (.879 SV%, and allowed 5 goals).  He had a chance to redeem himself against Colorado Thursday night, although he still only posted a .900 save percentage and allowed 3 goals.  I’m sure it’s very hard to play sporadically and still maintain your rhythm.

Looking ahead to January, the Chicago Blackhawks have three sets of back-to-back tilts.  This should give Scott Darling some more time to find his groove, and give Crawford some much needed rest.

Special Teams.  Hey, the Chicago Blackhawk’s power play currently ranks third in the league!  They have converted 29 times in 122 opportunities, for 23.8%.  The only two teams ahead of them are the Boston Bruins and the Washington Capitals.  For comparison, the Hawks ranked fifth in November, and 15th in October.

In December, they’ve converted on the power play 12 times out of 43, for 28%!  The PP has especially been on fire the last 2 games, where they’ve scored 5 out of 10 tries.

As far as the penalty kill, in October they were ranked 11th in the league, and in November they came in at 16th.  As of the end of December, they rank 12th in the league (21 goals against out of 111 kills, for 81.1% overall).   If you break down just the penalty kills for this month, the Hawks have allowed only 8 goals out of 45 tries, for 82%.  One of their top penalty killers, Marcus Kruger, has been out since December 18th due to wrist surgery (the last 5 games).  It will be interesting to see if the Hawks can continue to do as well without him.

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