The Chicago Blackhawks Surged Through February. What Happened?

Chicago Blackhawks, Brandon Hagel #38, Malcolm Subban #30 Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
Chicago Blackhawks, Brandon Hagel #38, Malcolm Subban #30 Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports /
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Kevin Lankinen #32, Chicago Blackhawks
Kevin Lankinen #32, Chicago Blackhawks Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports /

Predictable Transition on the Powerplay

The powerplay’s transition play is way too predictable, and the opposition prepares for the drop pass every game. They managed to get into the zone and caused some chances for, but their zone entry needs to improve with other versions other than “pass the puck to Patrick Kane and hope for the best”. When I watched the Blackhawks’ powerplay last night, they were able to get into the zone without Kane’s drop-pass entry.

I think they should just get the puck in without standing still. If the faceoff is outside of the zone, win the faceoff, pass to Alex Debrincat or Kirby Dach, and get it into the zone with speed. If they are checked, then pass the puck to a streaking Patrick Kane who should have some open ice based on the fact their prior puck carrier was checked. He then, focusing his time in the right side of the ice, could find the bumper play with Dach, or find Debrincat for a cross-ice one-timer.

The Blackhawks have guys who possess sick handles, and they need to utilize this as they spend one minute just to get into the zone on almost every powerplay.

Lack of Intensity, Lazy Play, and Lack of SOG

The real reason they went down a losing spiral, however, is their lazy play and lack of physicality for most of the month. They had no “relentlessness” and were not hard to play against, the opposition was comfortable with the puck more often than not, and their effort, in general, was lacking. They made lazy passes and even incorporated a “hopeful pass” where they decide to attempt to pass the puck through defenders to a streaking linemate. This resulted in two goals against in just two games.

They also didn’t shoot the puck at all, making one too many passes to find themselves chasing the puck back into the zone. With the offense they possess, the Blackhawks should shoot the puck whenever they have an open lane.

The Blackhawks also played as if their playoff spot was secured prior to their back-to-back against Nashville. They would have 41 points and maintain a seven-point lead going into a much “easier” month. Instead, they are in a situation where they need to go on a winning streak before they encounter yet another tough stretch of games to end the season.