Analysis

Chicago Blackhawks’ Good, Bad And Ugly Through First 7 Games

By George Clifford
Oct 18, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks left wing Artemi Panarin (72) celebrates his gaol against Philadelphia Flyers with right wing Patrick Kane (88) during the third period at the United Center. The Hawks won 7-4. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 18, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks left wing Artemi Panarin (72) celebrates his gaol against Philadelphia Flyers with right wing Patrick Kane (88) during the third period at the United Center. The Hawks won 7-4. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Chicago Blackhawks are lighting the lamp, but special teams continue to struggle

Early on, the Chicago Blackhawks have already been through a roller coaster of a stretch.

The team has compiled a 3-3-1 record behind some good play, but also some pretty rough play. As such, we’re going to take a look at the good, the bad and the ugly from the Blackhawks’ first seven tilts.

The good

Offense catches fire. After a sluggish start, the Chicago Blackhawks’ offense has sprung to life, scoring 20 goals in the past five games. With 22 points in six games, Patrick Kane, Artem Anisimov and Artemi Panarin keep pouring it on.

Anisimov scored twice against Toronto and has a five-game point streak; Kane shares the league lead with six assists; and Panarin has posted two multi-point games.

Power forward Richard Panik has surpassed all expectations, pacing the NHL with six goals and leading the team with 16 hits. Rookie Tyler Motte has 4 points, scoring a goal in each of the past game games.

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Defense jumps in. The Blackhawks tend to win when the defense pushes the pace and joins the rush. Mostly invisible prior to Saturday’s win, Brian Campbell is now making an impact with three assists against the Maple Leafs and an unassisted goal against the Flames last night.

Duncan Keith‘s six helpers also shares the league lead, and Brent Seabrook’s passing skill sparked the ’Hawks’ 7-4 victory over the Flyers. Talented youngster Gustav Forsling finally got rewarded offensively, scoring his first NHL assist against the Maple Leafs.

Third-period heroics. Nothing beats the rush of a third-period rally, as vividly displayed in recent wins over the Flyers and Maple Leafs. Consider this: Without those third-period histrionics, the Chicago Blackhawks could easily be 1-5-1 in seven games.

The bad

First and last minutes. The Blackhawks have shown a troubling tendency to give up critical goals, very late or very early in a period, that have swung momentum against them. In the season opener, St. Louis tied the score late in the second period, then scored the game-winner 55 seconds into the third.

Late and early period goals sparked comeback rallies for both the Predators and Flyers, and put the Maple Leafs ahead 3-2 in that game. The Blackhawks need to tighten up this aspect of their play.

Games are won or lost at the dot.  At 60 percent, Jonathan Toews leads all Blackhawks centers in faceoff win percentage. While Marcus Kruger is quickly rounding back into form at 50 percent, Anisimov’s prolific scoring has been offset by his horrendous 35 percent score at the dot. Winning faceoffs is a crucial statistic that bears a huge influence on the game’s final score.

Anemic powerplay. The Blackhawks’ powerplay has underperformed, converting only 5 of 26 attempts for 19 percent success. Chicago’s PP is 0 of 8 on the road and 0 of 8 in the last two home games. Zone entries and zone time are improving, but the ’Hawks need to put more shots on goal. Winning or losing often turns on the success, or failure, of the powerplay.

The Ugly

Penalty kill. The quickly-growing number of goals given up by the Blackhawks’ PK is starting to resemble the national debt ticker. Killing only 12 of 26 chances, the Hawks’ PK ranks dead last in the league, and is the single biggest drag on the team’s performance.

Next: Chicago Blackhawks' Artem Anisimov Receives Weekly Second Star

Here it is again: the Hawks have to do better pressuring the points, blocking shots and controlling inside position. As noted by analyst Jamal Mayers, ’Hawks forwards have got to block the wristers — too many are getting through and then banged home on rebounds. Both of Calgary’s goals last night were scored on the powerplay. Ouch!

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