Analysis

Chicago Blackhawks: Breaking Down Haunting Penalty-Killing Problems

By Mario Tirabassi
Oct 21, 2016; Columbus, OH, USA; Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford (50) reacts after a goal scored Columbus Blue Jackets center William Karlsson (not pictured) in the second period at Nationwide Arena. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 21, 2016; Columbus, OH, USA; Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford (50) reacts after a goal scored Columbus Blue Jackets center William Karlsson (not pictured) in the second period at Nationwide Arena. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports /
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chicago blackhawks
Oct 21, 2016; Columbus, OH, USA; Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford (50) reacts after a goal scored Columbus Blue Jackets center William Karlsson (not pictured) in the second period at Nationwide Arena. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports /

The Chicago Blackhawks own a league-worst penalty kill. Let’s take a closer look at its struggles.

The Chicago Blackhawks are 3-3-1 and have seven points in the standings through their first seven games. It’s a mark that, at the beginning of the season and with the questions of youth abound, wouldn’t be too far off from what would be expected of a Blackhawks team in a sort of flux.

But, the Blackhawks are at the 3-3-1 mark through seven, despite themselves.

The Blackhawks own the NHL’s worst penalty-killing percentage at 46.1 percent. That is a staggering 22.7 percentage points worse than 29th in the NHL, held by the Winnipeg Jets.

The Blackhawks are 12 out of 26 at surviving when a man down. Let this stat from Chicago Sun-Times reporter Mark Lazerus set in:

That’s unsettling.

What makes this penalty-killing nightmare worse is that the goaltending for Chicago, at even-strength, has been awesome. Corey Crawford has an even-strength save percentage of .973 and Scott Darling has a .918 save percentage at even strength.

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Out of 45 NHL goalies who have played in two or more games so far this season, that ranks Crawford second and Darling 18th in the league. Not too shabby for the small sample size that it is.

Please stop this nightmare

It makes one wonder where the Blackhawks could be if their penalty kill was even just average for the NHL standards so far this season. Taking out the league-best and league-worst penalty-killing units (New York Islanders – 95.5 / Chicago Blackhawks – 46.1), the NHL average penalty-killing percentage is 86 percent.

Now, say the Blackhawks still take the same amount of penalties that they have this year (26), but succeed at killing them off at an average rate. Killing off 86 percent of 26 penalties would be roughly 22 kills. That would mean Chicago gets to take back 10 powerplay goals against.

Check it out: Blackhawks’ Cast-Aways Finding Success Elsewhere

These are the 14 powerplay goals the Blackhakws have given up this season. Watch, if you can stomach it, and find 10 they could take back.

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