It almost seems like you can accidentally score a point in the NHL, but two Chicago Blackhawks haven’t been so lucky this season
Offense has been something of an issue for the Chicago Blackhawks the last two seasons — the ongoing one included. The line of Artemi Panarin–Artem Anisimov–Patrick Kane has been producing most of the points, while the bottom six toils away and the top line is devoid of an appropriate left wing.
It always hasn’t been that way for the Blackhawks under coach Joel Quenneville, as there often seems to be at least one person who struggles to dent the score sheet. But this season has seen an incredible, problematic non-scoring run involving two players.
Jordin Tootoo and Andrew Desjardins haven’t managed one goal or one assist among them this season. That might not be so much of a problem if they weren’t playing often, but these guys have gotten a fair amount of rope. Tootoo has seen 34 games, while Desjardins has played 27 of the Blackhawks’ 46. They’ve combined for a putrid minus-12 rating.
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One quarter of an NHL season is 20.5 games. So let’s look back at past Blackhawks seasons under Coach Q and see if there were any individual scoring droughts like this one.
Viktor Tikhonov: 0 points in 11 games
Rob Scuderi: 0 points in 17 games
Jeremy Morin: 0 points in 15 games
Kimmo Timonen: 0 points in 16 games
Brandon Bollig: 0 points in 25 games
Brendan Morrison: 0 points in 11 games
Brandon Bollig: 0 points in 18 games
Analyzing the data
In this glance, I included every skating Blackhawk who had no regular-season points and played in 10 or more games. Of course, I didn’t include goaltenders, who don’t tend to score much.
Da Windy City
The only somewhat comparable player to Tootoo and Desjardins this season was Bollig in the 2013 lockout season, failing to hit the scoresheet in 25 games.
You might note the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup that year. But it wasn’t as though Bollig was a key cog on that team. That was an extremely talented roster that could survive in spite of one struggling link.
You can see the issue of players without points has become more of a problem in recent seasons. Last season, the Blackhawks’ roster experienced a large amount of turnover as a result of salary cap issues. The season before that, the Blackhawks were trying to plug in new (or, in Morin’s case, returning) pieces to make a Cup push.
But look before the 2014-15 season. There were very rare exceptions of Blackhawks not scoring while playing in multiple regular-season games. That’s because the team had not yet purged a large portion of strong assets while also waiting for future assets to get stronger.
This post isn’t so much a request to dump Desjardins and Tootoo. Sure, it would be much better to acquire or call up guys who can actually score — and it’s probably necessary for the Blackhawks to go far beyond the regular season. But are such changes in the cards right now? Tyler Motte would be an improvement, but what after that?
General manager Stan Bowman has some questions to answer, because while the Chicago Blackhawks have succeeded with scoreless players in the past, this season’s roster isn’t talented enough to pull that off.