A seven-game winning streak has brought the Chicago Blackhawks within four points of a wild card spot. This resurgence created comparisons to the 2011-12 Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings who were an 8th seed with 95 points. How did the Kings achieve this success and can the Blackhawks replicate it?
Talk of the Chicago Blackhawks being a playoff team would’ve been laughable a month ago, however here we are. Making the playoffs will be a challenge in and of itself, but making a run through them will be another story. Here’s how they could recreate the Los Angeles Kings‘ run.
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Jonathan Quick put up career numbers in Los Angeles in 2011-12. He led the league in regular season shutouts with 10, including 3 in the playoffs. Quick’s 1.95 goals against average (GAA) and .925 save percentage (SV%) carried the Kings into playoff contention.
The King’s scored the second fewest goals that season. In 82 games, they only scored 194 goals, which is a 2.66 goals per game average. Quick needed to be elite to ensure his club had a deep run.
Of course, everyone continues to speculate what this year’s squad would look like with a healthy Corey Crawford. Even still, Crawford hasn’t posted statistics like that since the record breaking 2012-13 season. During that Cup run, Crawford recorded a .932 SV% and 1.84 GAA.
Collin Delia and Cam Ward are holding down the fort until Crawford makes his return. In 12 appearances in a Blackhawks sweater Delia has a .923 SV% and 2.98 GAA. Ward has posted an .891 SV% and 3.75 GAA in his first year in Chicago.
While the 2011-12 Kings certainly weren’t offensive juggernauts, they found ways to keep the puck away from their net. The highest scorer on that championship team was Anze Kopitar, and he only posted 25 goals. Patrick Kane is on pace to double that this year.
The Blackhawks need to keep pucks out of their net and that responsibility goes beyond Ward, Delia or Crawford.
The aforementioned Kings ended the 2011-12 season with the 4th best penalty kill in the league. The Chicago Blackhawks currently have the league’s worst at 73.6%.
Of the top 10 scoring teams in the NHL, the Blackhawks are the only team not currently in playoff contention.
Chicago is scoring goals at an incredible rate. The chemistry between Dylan Strome and Alex DeBrincat is evident with every shift and Kane is making his case for the Hart trophy while Jonathan Toews is having the resurgence the organization needed him to have.
That said, the Blackhawks still find themselves with massive defensive woes.