Blackhawks News

Chicago Blackhawks Month In Review: February

By Gail Kauchak
Feb 25, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks left wing Artemi Panarin (72) passes the puck with center Artem Anisimov (15) pursuing during the second period against the Nashville Predators at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 25, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks left wing Artemi Panarin (72) passes the puck with center Artem Anisimov (15) pursuing during the second period against the Nashville Predators at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports /
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Defense.   Ah, this whole defense thing makes me so nervous!  Duncan Keith and Niklas Hjalmarsson are both doing a phenomenal job on the top pairing!  But then things start to get dicey.  Brent Seabrook has been exposed more often than not lately.  This has to stop!  He definitely seems to do better when paired with Erik Gustafsson over Viktor Svedberg.  Svedberg recently was reassigned to Rockford, so for now it looks like Gustafsson is your fourth defenseman.

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But the Chicago Blackhawks also recently acquired Christian Ehrhoff from the LA Kings in exchange for Rob Scuderi.   He has yet to play, so it will be interesting to see where he slots in.  Will he get a shot as the fourth guy?  Or will he rotate in on the third pairing along with Trevor van Riemsdyk and Michal Rozsival?

Either way, the Chicago Blackhawks did not trade for another defenseman yesterday before the end of the trade deadline.  So these are the seven defensemen going forward.  Keep your fingers crossed, people.

In the meantime, goalie Corey Crawford has been a bit streaky of late.  He started in 10 of the 11 games in February, but was actually pulled for two of them.  Crow was replaced by Scott Darling after allowing 4 goals in the first period against the Dallas Stars on February 11th.  And Darls again came in as relief during the Stadium Series.  But that was just a complete debacle by the whole team.  I’m not sure if we should even count that game.

Crow posted a .907 save percentage in February, but he is still currently third in the league overall, at .928 for the season.  He is also second in the league in wins, with 33.  I have faith that Crawford will be strong in the month of March and beyond.  Look to see Darling in net a little more this month with a busier schedule and two back-to-backs.

Special Teams.  Last month, the Chicago Blackhawks were fourth in the league on the power play.  This month, they had two tilts in a row (against Toronto and at New York) where they scored 7 power play goals!  Pair that with 3 other PP tallies, and they are 10 for 37 in the month of February (27%).  This puts them at second place in the league overall, at 22.6%.

Who were your power play scorers?  Panarin and Seabrook both had 3 PP goals this month!  Shaw tallied twice.  And Toews and Teravainen each added a goal.

Last month, the Chicago Blackhawks were 9th in the league on the penalty kill.  This month, they rank 21st.  Yikes!  They have an overall penalty kill percentage of 79.4%.  But in February, it was 67%.  They’ve allowed 12 goals in 36 attempts.  This isn’t so hot.

I’d say the Hawks are certainly missing two of their best penalty killers in Marcus Kruger and Hossa.  The good news is Hossa should be back soon, and Kruger will be back for the playoffs.  Tomas Fleischmann, who was recently acquired from Montreal, spent 2:15 minutes of ice time on the penalty kill against Washington.  So his help could come in handy going forward.

I wouldn’t expect the penalty kill to be as big of a problem in the future.  Coach Q will get on them, and they will tighten up.  It will be interesting to see what their numbers are in this area in March.

Next: Coaching and Intangibles

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