Analysis

The Chicago Blackhawks Need to Focus on Their Discipline

Nikita Zadorov #16, Chicago Blackhawks Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Nikita Zadorov #16, Chicago Blackhawks Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Chicago Blackhawks have been undisciplined in the last couple of games, with five penalties against the Tampa Bay Lightning that lost them the game.

The Chicago Blackhawks need to be disciplined, their penalty-kill has been at the bottom of the league now for a few weeks. They allowed 4 powerplay goals against the Tampa Bay Lightning that lost them a game they were winning 3-0, losing that game 6-3. Connor Murphy started the onslaught with a five-minute major for checking from behind, shifting the momentum completely for the rest of the game.

The undisciplined play would continue with Matthew Highmore’s tripping penalty in the offensive zone. There was no need for that, and the result was another goal against them on the powerplay, their fifth in two games. This also made the momentum shift as the Blackhawks scored a goal a few minutes before that, making the score 2-1.

Undisciplined play is something every team needs to be concerned about, but the Chicago Blackhawks should be a bit more concerned.

The Chicago Blackhawks now have a 72.5% penalty kill, which is one of the worst in the league and, according to NBC Sports Chicago, would finish as the WORST in THIRTY YEARS. In 1988-89, the Toronto Maple Leafs had a 72.7% penalty-kill unit, and the Blackhawks are now poised to make history in the wrong way. The Los Angeles Kings of 1979-80 had a penalty kill of 67.7%, and if the Blackhawks continue their downward trend they will easily hit this mark in a shortened season.

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If the Blackhawks are unable to fix their penalty-kill woes, they will not make the playoffs. The last team to make the playoffs with the worst penalty kill were the Montreal Canadiens of 1996-97, and they lost in the first round 4-1 to the New Jersey Devils. They had a 79.9% kill rate, which is much better than what the Blackhawks have right now.

From what I understand (I could be wrong) Sheldon Brookbank is the coach in charge of both the defense and the penalty kill. If the Blackhawks finish with yet another underwhelming season on defense, despite the talent they have on paper, and lose their playoff position because of their penalty kill, Brookbank should be let go.

This Chicago Blackhawks team has gone on a downward spiral, with back-to-back blowout losses on Patrick Kane‘s 1000th game and to the Tampa Bay Lightning. The goaltending can only do so much, and Kevin Lankinen may have to play every game starting on Thursday. Despite his 6 goals against, only two were on even strength against the Lightning. He may have to play every game from now to the end of March if the Blackhawks want to maintain their standing.

The Chicago Blackhawks have to put in an effort to make the playoffs. They look to have become a bit complacent and that led to the undisciplined play and lazy efforts we have seen as of late. The goaltending didn’t really help in the 6-1 loss to Dallas, but the powerplay goal against led to a 3-1 lead, and the momentum back in Dallas’ favor after a Janmark snipe to make the score 2-1 just a few minutes before.

To conclude, the Blackhawks need to play hard and PLAY SMART if they want to get out of March in a playoff spot. The games will only get harder from here, and they will have to answer the call when things get hard. Kevin Lankinen may have to play every game in March as Malcolm Subban isn’t reliable enough to play against the top teams in the NHL. They need to fix the penalty kill, or their playoff chances will slowly fade away.

They need to answer back with a strong showing, and they can do just that on Thursday night.

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