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Analysis

Chicago Blackhawks’ Statistical Decline Shows In Central Division

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CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 12: Blake Wheeler
CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 12: Blake Wheeler /
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CHICAGO, IL – JANUARY 24: Frederik Andersen
CHICAGO, IL – JANUARY 24: Frederik Andersen /

Offense

The goals-for metric shows a very similar trend as goals against. The overall average for the Central Division is 3.09 goals per game this year through Jan. 23, versus 2.89 through 82 games last year — a 9 percent improvement. Same as the goals against metric, every team in the division with the exception of Minnesota and Chicago has improved in goals for per game.

The Chicago Blackhawks are at 2.96 GF versus 2.98 last year, so at first blush it doesn’t seem like offense is the issue. But, if you exclude the 10-1 romp in Game 1 against Pittsburgh and the recent 8-2 shellacking of Ottawa, Chicago’s GF plummets to 2.69, which is 12 percent lower than the Central Division average.

Understanding every team has a couple of outlier games, it still begs the question: Can a team that averages less than 2.7 goals per game on most nights make the playoffs? Doubtful, especially when the teams in your division are lighting it up.

Colorado is up 64 percent in GF versus last year’s full year. Dallas is up 16 percent and Winnipeg is up over 8 percent. Four teams in the Central are currently averaging more than three goals per game.

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Last year only two teams finished averaging more than three goals per game — Minnesota and Winnipeg. The division has gotten better and the Blackhawks are in decline. Not a good recipe for success.

Other metrics

As the Chicago Blackhawks have fallen back against their division so far this year, the question is why has this occurred and can this be turned around. Lets look at some key rankings this year through Jan. 23 for the Chicago Blackhawks:

Powerplay: No. 30 in the league

Hits: No. 28 in the league

Blocked shots: No. 28 in the league

As a comparison, let’s look at the back-to-back Cup-winning Pittsburgh team:

Poweplay: No. 1 in the league

Hits: No. 3 in the league

Blocked shots: No. 12 in the league

There is an argument that Pittsburgh is as much of a puck possession team as the ‘Hawks. They have top-tier stars and have played a lot of hockey these past few years, as have Chicago’s core veterans. How can they play a harder, more gritty game than the Blackhawks? Because they decide to, shift after shift.

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