Sure, everything can’t be candy and roses all the time. There is plenty that is not going the way of the Blackhawks, as is evident with last night’s inevitable, but still-crushing loss. A few things that have been reliable for Chicago have turned a bit cold and could use a minute in the microwave to get re-heated. (Clever, eh?)
The Blackhawks should learn from last night’s effort and look to what has made them successful over the first two weeks of November and do what they can to recapture that. Easier said than done when the next six games are on the road and they only play one more game at home before the month ends, but it can still be done.
Once one of the hottest players on the team, Panik has begun to fall back down to earth in his point production.
Over the first 17 games of the season Panik has 10 points, and if that stat line was proposed to most Blackhawks fans at the start of the season, they would be more than happy with it. The problem comes when Panik’s 10 points came in the first 10 games of the season.
Playing the last seven games without a point, Panik has started to fall back into the fold of Chicago’s forward depth. Yes, he is still playing at a high level, but when a player sets himself up with such high expectations early on, the crash is inevitable.
This isn’t to say that Panik is a bum and everyone should have known it, but his play has left something to be desired considering how fast he started. Maybe more time playing with Hossa and Anisimov on the second line will do good for Panik, but if he continues on his downward trend, his ice time could continue to dip.
On one side of things, the Blackhawks’ penalty kill has found its stride in November. But, on the other side of things, the powerplay has left a lot to be desired, including not converting on a 5-on-3 opportunity in last night’s game against the Jets.
Since November started, Chicago has gone 3 of 28 with the man-advantage and ranks 21st in the league.
Compare that to their numbers on the powerplay in October, going 9 of 38 and ranking 10th in the NHL, and the Blackhawks’ special teams are going in polar opposite directions.
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Whether it’s new line combinations, a new scheme or just plain ol’ new players on the man-advantage, something needs to change for the powerplay if the Blackhawks are going to get back to the form that they enjoyed over the last 11 or 12 games.
The addition of Brian Campbell in the offseason was a very welcome one for Blackhawks fans, and so far this season has done what it was supposed to do and provide a stop-gap on the bluecline. Campbell has done, over the entirety of the season so far, what has been asked of him. But recently, his contributions have been lacking.
Over the first nine games of the year, Campbell had six points and was a mainstay in the lineup. But after a healthy-scratch “scare,” Campbell’s production has taken a dip.
Since the month of November, Campbell has just one assist in eight games. If he is going to continue on this pace, the Blackhawks could start to grow a little sour on his return. Granted, he is a $7 million player playing on a $1.5 million deal. There is less room to criticize Campbell because he is giving his services on such a discount. But still, little more from him would be nice.
What’s on tap
For the Blackhawks, the Circus Trip farewell tour continues on Friday in Calgary when they take on the Flames for the third time in 18 games. After that, they turn around and face the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday night and then head to Edmonton to take on the Oilers on Monday night.
Some very winnable games are ahead of them. All three upcoming teams are facing lulls in their form, as the Flames are 4-6-0 over their last 10 games, the Oilers are 3-6-1 and the Canucks are 2-8-0 over their last 10 games.