For those panicking about how the Chicago Blackhawks have played in January, looking back at the past should offer some comfort
The Chicago Blackhawks are in what you could call an unimpressive stretch of hockey. They’ve lost three consecutive games in regulation for the first time this season, the most recent being a 3-1 defeat in San Jose on Tuesday night.
It’s been pointed out by various outlets, however, that the Blackhawks typically don’t bring their A-game during the middle months of the season.
And this has often been true under coach Joel Quenneville — the Blackhawks either start hot enough to sleep through the winter months, or they just struggle throughout the season. It’s more often the former.
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With that in mind, let’s look at some more proof that January struggles are not a new thing for the Blackhawks — and that they aren’t the end of the world.
For all the hand-wringing, the Blackhawks’ record this month wasn’t that bad. While the play was hardly impressive throughout the month, the Blackhawks wound up with a 7-6 mark (not breaking down overtime/shootout situations).
That included a 4-1 record in one-goal games, which would imply that things could actually be worse than they wound up being. However, two of the non-one-goal games were pushed to two goals by an empty-netter. So that mark is closer to 4-3.
Things have been relatively even in the last month for Chicago, and it’s easy to make an argument that more focused, consistent play could have pushed things in a slightly stronger direction.
This is one of those weird outliers, as the Blackhawks went 11-3 in January last season. The first 10 of those victories came as part of a 12-game win streak that started in late December.
However, you’ll recall the Blackhawks didn’t make it out of the first round of the postseason. So success in the middle of the season when a lot of people weren’t looking didn’t wind up mattering a whole lot.
When looking at this mark, it’s fair to note of the first 10 wins in that 11-3 run, eight of them were against teams that didn’t even make the postseason. The other two were against Nashville, which was a wild-card club.
The Blackhawks did, however, win the Stanley Cup in this season. And their record in the January of this month? A not-so-robust 6-7.
In 2014, the Blackhawks wound up one win from playing for a Stanley Cup they likely would have taken (it was widely believed Los Angeles and Chicago were by far the two best teams in the conference finals). And in that season, they posted a 5-9 January mark.
In 2013, the Blackhawks were winning everything in sight. Their regular season started in January, and they won the first seven games of that month for a 7-0 mark. Another anomaly.
The 2012 Blackhawks were one of Coach Q’s worst teams, and they went 5-8 in January games — better than the far-better 2014 squad. The 2011 and 2010 teams posted 6-5 and 10-5 January records, respectively, and I think we’d all agree one of those teams was far better than the other.
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Conclusions to draw from these numbers
There’s a pretty simple way to wrap up all this information: The Blackhawks are consistently inconsistent in January.
Does this team have its concerning flaws? Certainly. But I’d argue it’s better than last season’s team, and look how that group did in January.
There are so many factors that go into having a successful month. A team has to be healthy and have a steady lineup, and it doesn’t hurt to have a favorable schedule.
The Blackhawks actually did have a favorable schedule as far as playoff teams on it this season, but they’ve been far from healthy or fielding a steady lineup. Coach Q is juggling lines by the game, and key guys like Corey Crawford, Marcus Kruger and Marian Hossa have been dealing with different levels of injury.
Overall, we should wait until the Blackhawks get closer to the homestretch of the regular season to make judgments about the club. January doesn’t have to be a successful month for the Blackhawks to be a successful team.