Currently, the Chicago Blackhawks are sitting last in the Central Division with a 19-15-6 record. They’re three points out of a playoff spot with games in hand on many of their opponents, but there is much concern heading into the last half of the season.
The Chicago Blackhawks, for a lack of a better term, have been dicey this year. They’ve looked great some nights, beating a top division team in honorary fashion, but then lose to an opponent who has seemingly no reasonable upper hand against them. It’s an odd season for sure, but if there’s one thing the ‘Hawks must do in order to keep their championship window open, it’s make the playoffs.
Right now, it’s hard to see the ‘Hawks taking control of the Central Division and making themselves kings of the Central like they did last year, but it’s also hard not seeing them making the playoffs at all regardless of their place in the standings.
Here’s what the Blackhawks have to do in order to keep the dream alive.
Fight harder in the Central Division
The biggest weakness in the Blackhawks’ game right now is their inability to get points from their division. In hockey, you must be a solid divisional team. You cannot cough up key matchups versus the opponents you see regularly, especially knowing it’ll lead into the playoffs.
Right now, the ‘Hawks are 4-6-2 against the Central, but are 4-1-2 versus the Atlantic and 7-4-0 versus the Metropolitan. Obviously, the Eastern Conference has much, much stronger teams than the Central, which is considerably confusing. It seems the ‘Hawks are slipping in matches versus their divisional rivals, which is getting to their heads.
More from Analysis
- Blackhawks: Three Noticeable Improvements in Comeback Win vs Blues
- Blackhawks: Key Takeaways from 3-2 win over the Blues
- Blackhawks: Grading Connor Murphy and a position comparison
- Blackhawks: Shuffling the lines to try and spark offense at 5 on 5
- These Lineup Changes could Solve the Blackhawks’ Scoring Problem
If this team wants to make the playoffs, it needs to start fighting harder versus the Central Division. No more points can be coughed up, and they need to play disciplined hockey.
Jonathan Toews needs to stay hot
It may not be Jonathan Toews’ year, but he’s been playing pretty damn well to start the new year. After not having any points in three games, he stepped up the plate versus the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers with a goal and an assist in each of the games.
It seems apparent that when Toews is rolling, the ‘Hawks do, too. NHL insider Dan Rosen has proof; just check his tweet.
(Editor’s note: That record fell to 12-4-3 last night.)
Toews currently has 12 goals and 16 assists in 40 games, being under a point per game with 28. However, it’s not about what he has right now, it’s about what he’s going to provide in the future.
Toews is a leader, whether you like him or not. When he gets rolling, everyone else does. He’s the main catalyst to this team’s success, just like his counterpart Patrick Kane.
Get healthy, stay healthy
A big concern this year for the ‘Hawks is their health. Their biggest star, Corey Crawford, has been slowed down by injuries, as he’s been the ‘Hawks’ best player all year. Crow is 16-9-2 with a 2.27 goals-against average and a .929 save percentage. Those are Vezina-quality statistics, but the only problem is he’s going to remain out indefinitely with an undisclosed upper-body injury.
Luckily, Jeff Glass, the 32-year-old rookie, is playing well with a 2-1-1 record, doing well in each of his wins. However, it’s most likely not going to last for a long time. The ‘Hawks are also without Artem Anisimov, a key second-line piece, as he’s day-to-day with an upper-body injury he suffered versus the Vancouver Canucks on Dec. 29.
If the ‘Hawks want some luck, and some points, they’ll need to stay healthy and keep above the high waters they’re already in. Get Crow healthy, keep your forwards strong and you’ll be in good shape. Let’s just hope nothing happens to the defense. We don’t need that travesty again.
This is an important time for the Blackhawks. I say, they have about until right after the All-Star weekend to get the ball rolling. That’s when you see most struggling teams heat up and start burning through the schedule.
However, it’s just a matter of time. What do you think you Blackhawks need to do to make the playoffs?