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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Oct 14, 2016; Nashville, TN, USA; Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson (4) reacts after allowing a goal in the first period against the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports /

What does it all mean?

Now,  it is not realistic to say, ‘Oh, just take goals away.’ But think about it this way: Those 10 penalties the Blackhawks could have killed off if they performed at a league-average penalty kill could be all the powerplay goals they allowed in each of their losses.

Not to say that they would in turn win each of those games, but factor in that the first loss of the season to St. Louis saw the Blackhawks allow three powerplay goals and two empty-net goals, and the game is different.

More from Blackhawk Up

The loss to Nashville in the second game of the season was by three powerplay goals for the Predators. Different game.

The 3-2 loss to Columbus had two powerplay goals from the Blue Jackets. Different game.

Monday’s loss in the shootout to the Calgary Flames went to overtime and then a shootout because the Flames scored …. yep, two powerplay goals. Different game.

Even if just one or two powerplay goals per game in those losses were taken away as penalties killed, is it too outrageous to think the Blackhawks could be 4-3-0? 5-2-0? 4-2-1? 6-1-0? Who knows?

It goes without saying that the Blackhakws cannot continue on this current pace on the penalty kill. Not sure any team in the NHL’s history has made, or even could make, the playoffs with a penalty-kill percentage below 50 percent.

The NHL record for worst penalty-kill percentage in a single-season is 67.7 percent by the Los Angeles Kings in the 1979-80 season. If the Blackhawks want to avoid matching that mark early on, they would have to be perfect on the penalty kill for the next 18 penalties they take (30/44 = 68.1%), and they still would be the worst in the league if every team stayed at their current pace.

Next: Crawford Off To Unusual Start

Chicago’s cavalcade of penalty-killing nightmares travels to New Jersey on Friday to take on the Devils. How fitting, since this team’s penalty-killing abilities have gone to hell so far this year.

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