Analysis

Chicago Blackhawks’ Hot And Not: Kane On Rare Downer

By Randy Holndoner
OTTAWA, ON - JANUARY 09: Chicago Blackhawks Right Wing Patrick Kane (88) waits for play to resume during second period National Hockey League action between the Chicago Blackhawks and Ottawa Senators on January 9, 2018, at Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa, ON, Canada. (Photo by Richard A. Whittaker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
OTTAWA, ON - JANUARY 09: Chicago Blackhawks Right Wing Patrick Kane (88) waits for play to resume during second period National Hockey League action between the Chicago Blackhawks and Ottawa Senators on January 9, 2018, at Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa, ON, Canada. (Photo by Richard A. Whittaker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /
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The Chicago Blackhawks limped into the bye week by getting shut out at home, 4-0, at the hands of the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday.  They are halfway through a crucial six-game homestand, in which they have gone 1-2 so far.

The Chicago Blackhawks now get to enjoy a private session of soul-searching until Saturday, when they next play, hosting the New York Islanders.  Meanwhile, the rest of the NHL will try to figure out what story to believe when wondering what is actually wrong with Corey Crawford.  Is he suffering from vertigo or post-concussion syndrome?

While inquiring minds want to know, let’s take a look at who has been playing well for the Blackhawks, and who has been colder than the ice they skate on.

Who’s hot?

Nick Schmaltz

His faceoff win percentage is still at a horrid 40.2, but he has been a big part of their scoring, whether it is at even strength or on the powerplay.

Vinnie Hinostroza

Hinostroza has only played in 15 games this year, but has contributed nine points (3G 6A).  The most dominant aspect to his game right now is that he brings some much-needed speed to this team.

Jonathan Toews

He has been a streaky player, and this team will need him to contribute on a continuous basis the rest of the way.  He’s a workhorse at the dot, taking over a third of all faceoffs for the team.  Unfortunately, he will have to do more of that along with scoring.

Who’s not?

Well, the last three games, you could pick any or all the above.  But let’s take a look at those that are struggling the most.

Brent Seabrook

Leading up to his benching, he was held off the scoresheet for nine straight games.  He hadn’t scored a goal in 40 games (that’s almost half the season).  His ice time has diminished, as he has only skated over 20 minutes in a game once in his last 11 games.

This coming from a guy who has played 967 NHL games in which he has averaged 22:21 of ice time a night.  He is wearing the “A” this year for the first time, and his production needs to amp up as of now.

After starting the season strong, Forsling has slowed down over the last 13 games (2A, minus-3 rating).  Yes, Forsling still has not had enough games in the NHL to complete a full season, but he is being asked upon to play some heavy minutes.

Averaging nearly 20 minutes a games this year, he has found time mostly on the penalty kill and not on the powerplay.  He has an offensive sense and throws pucks at the net.  For a struggling powerplay, this would seem to be a no-brainer to spark his game along with thepower play.

It’s not often you see Kane on this list.  But being the only player who can average a point a game for this team, he needs to deliver on a nightly basis.  Having points in only two of his last eight games will not get it done (seven points, 2G 5A).

When you look at it, it is almost a point a game.  Now, take away his five-point performance in Ottawa (1G 4A).  Not so great now, is it?  This team needs another shot in the arm, and needs to start with Kane.

The powerplay

After having a great game in Ottawa, where the power play went 4 of 6, it is gone deathly silent since (0 of 9).  The Blackhawks have fallen to 26th in the league, and have scored in just one of their last eight games.

Goals have become hard to come by in general, as they’ve scored just three goals in their last three games.  They need to ignite this powerplay.  Anthony Duclair has seen time on the powerplay, but they need to change it up.

Replace Duncan Keith with Forsling.  How can he be any worse?  Keith has yet to score a goal this year.

What’s next?

With the news of Crawford possibly being lost for the remainder of the season, two players who need to get hot really quick are Anton Forsberg and Jeff Glass.  Both have a less-than-stellar .910 save percentage.

The bigger problem they have is their combined 3.06 goals-against average in 21 games.  This means the Blackhawks must score at least three goals a game, on average, just to get a point.

Next: Blackhawks' Youth Movement Key To Success

It would help if the Blackhawks would not give up more than 32 shots per game.  We will have to wait and see how the Blackhawks spent their bye week and if it will rejuvenate them. They are currently three points out of a playoff spot.  They have a mighty high mountain to climb.

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