Chicago Blackhawks Are Hot, But Need Reassurance To Compete Further
By John Aubert
The Chicago Blackhawks have started out the season 2-0-1, acquiring four out of five possible points, surprising critics and fans alike. With the offense firing on all cylinders, core players doing their part and a rookie defenseman stepping into big shoes, they look phenomenal. However, with this hot start, they’re going to need reassurance to solidify their perpetual redemption of a season.
No one really expected this. Chicago Blackhawks fans may have been optimistic, but there was always a heavy weight in the back of our minds that brought together a melting pot of emotions.
However, with three games in the books and the lead in the Central Division, the Blackhawks seem confident.
They’re rolling with demeanor to redeem themselves in the eye of the NHL. Despite the recent success, here’s a few things the ‘Hawks need in order to wholeheartedly prove themselves to be elite once again.
Alter game plans to take a lead and keep it
In all three games thus far, the Blackhawks have had to come back and rely on their top forward lines to give the team a chance to win. It’s been entertaining hockey, but if the meta continues, they’re not going to be as lucky.
So far, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Alex Debrincat have been the go-to-guys in finding a way to force overtime, scoring a combined 11 goals.
The top forwards are doing their rightful jobs on the team. However, the rest of the pack needs to keep up and carry its weight during the course of the game.
Understandably, this is critical to any teams success, but it’s even more important to the ‘Hawks based on their current makeshift defensive pairings as well as their shaky starting goaltender Cam Ward.
Da Windy City
If the ‘Hawks start to find ways to get their bottom two lines on the scoreboard, they won’t be necessarily needing a comeback win every night.
If Marcus Kruger, Luke Johnson or even Artem Anisimov can find ways to put up some numbers, we could be seeing a more comfortable team sooner, rather than later.
Allow Crawford a comfortable situation for return
The Blackhawks have been scoring multiple goals a night, which is great. However, they’ve had some pretty bad goals against over the starting weekend of the season.
Yes, the defensive pairings are looking a little iffy, in exception of Duncan Keith and Henri Jokiharju, but there have been plenty of times where the goaltender is to blame. Not to put all the blame on Ward, but he’s to share a majority of it.
The Blackhawks defense needs to carry some weight and deliver a shutdown type of system, especially in front of the net. Right now, it’s a vital time to do so as Ward seems to struggle the most when the shots are coming from the mid-high slot.
The defense needs to work on protecting that area and trust Ward right now. This way, they can get used to playing a much harder game in front of Corey Crawford, who is expected to return from an injury that has spanned 11 months.
If the game can be controlled a little better in front of the net, the team can carve a path for Crow’s return and pave it as smoothly as possible. If they’re able to do so, even just a little, we could be seeing a much better GAA within the next couple weeks, when our lord and savior Crawford returns.
Want your voice heard? Join the Blackhawk Up team!
Get the powerplay hot
For the most part, the Blackhawks’ powerplay has been mediocre despite having such great talents on the two units on the ice. The Blackhawks are the eighth-worst team on the powerplay as they haven’t scored a PPG on 10 opportunities. That cannot happen, especially in a league that is becoming more high-scoring.
All of the league’s elite teams have high-scoring powerplay percentages. For example, the Washington Capitals have a 50 percent conversion rate, as they’ve scored four goals on eight opportunities. The Toronto Maple Leafs, who just beat the ‘Hawks in overtime Sunday night, are currently right behind them with 42.9 percent, scoring three PPGs on seven chances.
One of those powerplay goals allowed them to temporarily take a lead in the game, ultimately aiding them to prevail in overtime.
The Blackhawks need something to get an edge in games. Even though they seem to be doing that just fine while playing 5-on-5, there’s going to come a time where the powerplay is going to be needed, and they cannot afford to be shooting themselves in the foot in dire moments like they have in the past.