The Chicago Blackhawks are in an interesting situation right now — they’re simultaneously stuck on the wrong side of the playoff bubble and too far away from a top draft pick — but here’s why they’re ending the season the right way.
The Chicago Blackhawks will need a lot of things to go right if they want to make the playoffs this year. Should they do so, it’s even less likely that they’ll be able to do anything against whichever Western Conference powerhouse they draw in the first round.
Regardless, that isn’t what is important at this point in the season. The 2018-19 Chicago Blackhawks aren’t the Chicago Blackhawks of years past (their record and defense certainly proves that much).
At this point in the year, their goals are different than years past. Playoffs or not, all I want to see the Chicago Blackhawks do throughout the end of the season is grow.
According to NBC Sports Chicago’s Charlie Roumeliotis, they’re doing just that:
"“Let’s dive into the numbers and break down what’s behind it all, courtesy of naturalstattrick.com. Since Jan. 20…The Blackhawks have the best points percentage (.727) and most wins (16) of any Western Conference team. In the 49 games before that, they had the worst points percentage (.418) and fewest wins (16) of any NHL team.The Blackhawks have a plus-14 goal differential at 5-on-5; they had a minus-21 goal differential in their previous 49 games.The Blackhawks rank No. 1 in the league with 94 goals (4.27 per game); they had previously ranked 14th with 145 goals (2.96).The Blackhawks have the best 5-on-5 shooting percentage at 10.6; their percentage before that was 7.7, which ranked 23rd.The Blackhawks have converted on 25.0 percent of their power plays, which ranks fifth-best; they previously had a power-play percentage of 18.9, which ranked 17th.The Blackhawks’ goaltenders have a high-danger 5-on-5 save percentage of .859 which ranks fifth; their high-danger save percentage previously was .843, which ranked 10th.Four different Blackhawks have averaged more than a point per game: Patrick Kane (1.55), Alex DeBrincat (1.46), Jonathan Toews (1.32) and Dylan Strome (1.27). They had only one before that: Kane (1.35).”"
The Chicago Blackhawks are clearly a different team since January 20th than they were prior to it. The numbers say so, but the eye test indicates that as well.
These numbers are making fans question what the state of the Chicago Blackhawks would be had Jeremy Colliton taken over before the season began. No one can no for sure whether they’d be in a solidified playoff spot or not, but their defensive deficiencies would still prevent them from being true contenders.
Still, that doesn’t mean we can’t appreciate what the Chicago Blackhawks are doing right now.
The numbers are stacked against them as far as their playoff chances are going, but everything seems to be coming together for them right now. Their veteran players are playing better as of late while their young guys are stepping up and filling big roles. Winning games is certainly made easier when your Stanley Cup champion goaltender is back in net, too.
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If they can continue to grow as a team and carry this momentum into next season, who knows what the Chicago Blackhawks would look like if they can get some defensive reinforcements in the offseason.