Blackhawks News

Chicago Blackhawks’ First-Half Report Card

By Mike Brennan
Jan 6, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; The Chicago Blackhawks celebrate their victory following the third period against the Pittsburgh Penguins at the United Center. Chicago won 3-1. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 6, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; The Chicago Blackhawks celebrate their victory following the third period against the Pittsburgh Penguins at the United Center. Chicago won 3-1. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports /
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Jan 24, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; St. Louis Blues right wing Scottie Upshall (10) attempts to shoot the puck against Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson (4) during the second period at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports /

Defense: D+

… well, it isn’t a complete failure, so that’s good. Let’s start with the positives of the D-men, which really scrapes the bottom of the barrel for ideas. Starting off, the best blueliner all season has been Niklas Hjalmarsson. He has the best Corsi-for percentage of the Blackhawks’ defensemen who have played in more than half the team’s games with 52. Still not that great of a Corsi percentage for defensemen, but on the ‘Hawks it is a great stat. You can also always rely on Hjalmarsson to block all the shots he can, tallying 100 blocks this season. Also, the ‘Hawks have him through the 2018-19 season, which is good unless he starts to wear down from his style of play.

The other positive worth mentioning is Erik Gustafsson. He was a fourth-round pick in 2012 by Edmonton, and is getting his first NHL experience this year with the ‘Hawks. Through 20 games, he has a 53.8 Corsi-for percentage, with eight assists and a plus/minus rating of 10.

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Time to get negative. Let’s start with Rob Scuderi. I will get to the trade that brought him over here later, but he has been the worst part of an already terrible defense. He is in the pit of the defensive pairings with no points, a plus/minus rating of minus-5, a 44 percent Corsi-for rating and he starts in the defensive zone 39.5 percent of the time he gets on the ice. While it is somewhat unfair to complain about him this much, considering he is 37 and brings some veteran presence, how can he be this bad?

Aside from him, Trevor van Riemsdyk has been a big disappointment this season, Michal Rozsival has been garbage (although he has been playing less as of late for Gustafsson) and Brent Seabrook‘s age has been showing lately. The D also sits 26th in the league in goals against per game with 2.30, and 20th in the league in total goals against with 122.

Next: Next Grade: Goaltending

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