The Chicago Blackhawks have played five games, five into overtime and taken 8 out of 10 possible points earned. Life is good, no? No, it’s not.
Chicago Blackhawks fan’s expectations for this season of hockey in Chicago were not running high this summer. Well, fall is here and your Chicago Blackhawks are sitting in 2nd place in the Central Division after the first five games.
This is a team unbeaten in regulation time. This is a team that has earned 8 out of 10 possible points. This is a team that cannot sustain this winning pace for a whole season. Or can it? We put this question out there for our readership:
After the Chicago #Blackhawks started the season taking 8/10 points, where do you think they finish this year?
— Blackhawk Up (@Blackhawk_Up) October 15, 2018
Live by the sword, die by the sword.
The Chicago Blackhawks have scored a Central Division best 22 goals, but have also given up a division high of 21 goals. The ‘Hawks are playing a wide open style of hockey that is fast paced and wildly exciting. Sean Tierney @ChartingHockey provides visuals of the Blackhawks’ fast pace and its consequences.
The 3-on-3 overtime format is good entertainment, but it is not a determiner of a good hockey team. Additionally, 3-on-3 hockey is exhausting for the players. The skaters in overtime are usually the team’s best players. As a result, a team that has a penchant for playing a lot of overtime is going to wear down its star players.
The stats guys see it.
Here’s what Sean Tierney says about our Chicago Blackhawks.
I really respect CHI and NYR for playing fast despite not necessarily being very good. pic.twitter.com/VcXVuoTgJ7
— Sean Tierney (@ChartingHockey) October 14, 2018
And Micah Blake McCurdy @IneffectiveMath sees the Blackhawks finishing last in the Central Division and the Western Conference. He predicts an 86 point season, and that’s not good.
So can we have a little optimism here, please?
Whew, okay then! Here are the positives that the Chicago Blackhawks can build on to overcome their current trend:
- Alex DeBrincat is breaking out as a solid top line winger and developing star.
- Dominik Kahun is a surprise legitimate NHL’er and even a top line winger.
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- Jonathan Toews is feeding off the speed and skill of his new, young wingers and looks like the Jonathan Toews of old.
- Patrick Kane continues to excel as one of the league’s best and most exciting forwards.
- Henri Jokiharju is not only holding his own as a 19 year old rookie defenseman, but he is showing why he was a first round draft pick.
- Duncan Keith is looking comfortable for the first time in a while with his new, young partner.
- Erik Gustafsson is playing with more confidence.
- Brent Seabrook is making plays with a lighter time-on-ice load.
- Corey Crawford is returning Thursday and, if fully recovered, will provide the defense with a tremendous boost.
The season is young, and the youngsters need to bring it.
In addition to the aforementioned nine players, the rest of the players need to show what they’re made of. This may be yet another strange feeling of deja vu, but this season strongly depends upon the contribution from the supporting cast.
They need to ramp up their play defensively and on special teams if they want to shake off the current mode they’re in.
Yes, there are once again a lot of ifs this season. If Nick Schmaltz can find some aggression in his play. If Brandon Saad can rediscover what made him a good hockey player. If Jan Rutta can reduce his turnovers. If Brandon Manning can step up his play. If Artem Anisimov can perform CPR on Chris Kunitz. If Alexandre Fortin can keep up his frantic pace and hit the score sheet. If John Hayden can provide energy without losing control. If Crawford is truly ready to return in a full time starter’s role. If Cam Ward can be a solid backup to Crawford. If the team can devise a functional power play.
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So yeah, the Chicago Blackhawks have a lot of room for improvement.
So far, the ‘Hawks are at least squeaking out points with these crazy overtime games to be competitive. If they can stay competitive while developing, they could turn a simply entertaining season into a winning season. And hopefully, a winning season minus the glut of overtime action.
Now THAT would be the good life.