Defense. The Chicago Blackhawks appear to have found the answer to their fourth defenseman in Erik Gustafsson. He has fit in nicely on the second pairing with Brent Seabrook. He adds an offensive threat that Trevor van Riemsdyk was not able to do. In January, Gusty has generated 4 assists.
Seabs and Duncan Keith are both still plugging along with their contributions. Each has a goal this month, and Keith has 6 helpers; whereas Seabrook has 5.
Van Riemsdyk is currently 12th in the league with 106 blocked shots. Niklas Hjalmarsson comes in at 15th, with 102 blocked shots. I’m not sure if I would relish this role. Meanwhile, Michal Rozsival and Rob Scuderi are taking turns playing every other game. It’s not the ideal situation, but it appears to be a decent bandaid for right now.
But the real story on defense is the one and only Corey Crawford. Good God, Crawford!
Crow and Cory Schneider of the New Jersey Devils are the only two goaltenders that have played in 42 games this year. That’s a pretty heavy workload, but Crawford seems to be up to the task. Crow ranks first in the league in saves (1170), and second in the league in shots against (1257).
In January, Crow had a record of 9-2. He had a .946 save percent average, and a 1.72 goals against average, along with 2 shutouts. Overall, he ranks second in the league in wins (28), 7th in the league in SV% (.931), 10th in GAA (2.14), and he leads the league with 7 shutouts.
Special Teams. Last month, the Chicago Blackhawks ranked third in the league on the power play. This month they have slipped to fourth. You would think that is still pretty good, but apparently everyone in the league must be struggling on the power play. The Hawks only converted 5 of 36 times this month, for merely 14%. That’s half as much as their 28% from last month.
In regards to the penalty kill, they have moved up to 9th place in January from 12th place in December. And this is without Marcus Kruger. This month, the penalty kill only allowed 4 goals in 35 tries! I guess this comes as little surprise from a team with a coach that preaches defense first.