Analysis

Chicago Blackhawks’ Reasons For Inconsistent Play This Season

By Gail Kauchak
Jan 6, 2017; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews (19) congratulates goalie Scott Darling (33) following the third period at the United Center. Chicago won 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 6, 2017; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews (19) congratulates goalie Scott Darling (33) following the third period at the United Center. Chicago won 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports /
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Jan 6, 2017; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks goalie Scott Darling (33) deflects the puck with his glove during the third period against the Carolina Hurricanes at the United Center. Chicago won 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 6, 2017; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks goalie Scott Darling (33) deflects the puck with his glove during the third period against the Carolina Hurricanes at the United Center. Chicago won 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports /

The trade deadline and the Chicago Blackhawks

This year’s trade deadline is on February 28th.  I’m sure general manager Stan Bowman is busy trying to find a way to bolster this team for another playoff run.  He probably won’t make a big splash; he’s hinted that he thinks most of the pieces are in place with the existing roster.

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But I would expect him to acquire at least another forward.  Perhaps it will be someone to fill that elusive top-line left wing spot.  Or someone to help give the bottom-six more depth, or more of a scoring punch.

And then whoever does come in will have to deal with Quenneville’s experimentation while he decides where they fit in best.  Just ask Antoine Vermette or Dale Weise about it.  It must be rather frustrating to play for this coaching staff.  But in many cases, it’s worth it.

Goaltending and the Chicago Blackhawks

I’d like to take a moment to discuss this since strong goaltending has been key to the Chicago Blackhawks’ success this season.

Corey Crawford is your No. 1 goalie; there’s no doubt about that.  But if he falters, or gets hurt, we are incredibly lucky to have Scott Darling as the backup for the Chicago Blackhawks.  Here’s a quote from Scott Powers of The Athletic where Darling discusses being a backup.

“Obviously it’s fun to be the starter. You’re the guy. You get to play every game. You don’t get super-hard practice every day, which is nice too. But at the end of the day I’m thrilled to be the backup for the Chicago Blackhawks. You’re never going to hear me complain and I’m just happy to get games when I can.”

It’s pretty hard not to love this guy!  But I think we all need to face the cold, hard facts.  This is probably the last year Crow and Darls will both wear the Indian Head sweater.  At the end of the season, one of them will have to go.  So let’s enjoy them while we can, shall we?

It’s easy to see why the Chicago Blackhawks might not look their best in January and February.  They are in a constant state of flux.  But there is always that “Ah ha!” moment when Coach Q ices the ideal lineup.  It’s usually during the first series of the playoffs.

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And then we, as fans, curse him and say, “Why wasn’t he doing that all along?!”  Well, he’s the second-winningest coach in the NHL for a reason.  This is what he does.  He never plays his cards right away.

Have patience, my friends.  The best is yet to come.

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