Tracking some key statistics for the Chicago Blackhawks

Chicago Blackhawks
Chicago Blackhawks / David Berding/GettyImages

Pretty much across the board, expectations are low for the Chicago Blackhawks this season. It's disappointing as a fan to see an organization aim for last place as if that were ever an objective. However, it's liberating in the sense that, the staff and players can do whatever they want without repercussions. This is a season to experiment.

One area where I'd like to see Chicago make adjustments is defensively. People can point to holes all over the line-up, ones that will probably be even larger after the trade deadline in early March, but none of that really matters right now. The existence of those holes is why this year is going to be the abomination that it is. There's ample room though for Head Coach Luke Richardson to start putting in place a defensive system that could yield long-term benefits.

No team wins for long without reliable defense. You can have all the offensive firepower in the world, but without defense that team probably isn't winning a championship. (I'm looking at you Edmonton!) Setting processes in place to improve the team defensively is absolutely something Richardson can and should begin now.

To that end, I thought it might be worthwhile to track some statistics over the course of this season of Chicago at 5-on-5. I specify 5-on-5 because, just like with having offense but no defense, special teams alone aren't enough to carry a team to a championship.

Richardson is, hopefully, asking himself questions such as "How we can strengthen the power play? How can we prevent opposing teams from having too much time on our end? What can we do to limit scoring chances against us (the Blackhawks)?" It doesn't matter who is on the roster because the head coach can put a system in place and work players into it.

A few stats to consider for this particular season deal with high-danger scoring chances. Every team should be looking to limit their opponents from having A+ opportunities to put the puck in the net, whether they are re-building or not. Some examples and definitions from Hockey Reference are:

1. HDA

High-danger scoring chances against


High-danger scoring chances against that lead to goals

3. HDCO%

Percentage of high-danger scoring chances that are converted to goals, for this team's opponents

Every team gives up shots in a game, but the quality of shots their opponents are getting makes a real difference. If Richardson can start getting his players to tighten up things defensively, and this remains a trend over the course of the season, then that would be a positive for me. Especially when taking stock of the fact that younger players that may be part of the long-term plan will see minutes in the NHL this year.

With Chicago's top prospects in the AHL, players can work their way into a new defensive structure without having to unlearn a previous one. On some level, this is probably part of General Manager Kyle Davidson's scorched-earth approach to replenishing the organization's roster depth.

Last year, those same stats were, unsurprisingly, below the league average. (You can see for yourself 'Team Analytics at 5-on-5', via Hockey Reference.) Setting modest goals, such as improving defensive numbers is reasonable. Furthermore, 82 games is a fair amount of time to get things in place, not to mention, Richardson had a full training camp with the team. Even though he's a new coach, he has been given a free hand to organize things as he sees fit.

The NHL level is where proof of concept will be evident. Both Richardson and Davidson have their work cut out for them. Yet, since Chicago is going to be at the bottom of the league, it's a good chance to crunch numbers and watch to see if the statistics show Chicago trending upwards, even if the team's record says otherwise.