Both Greg Wyshynski of Yahoo and Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times address the Chicago Blackhawks struggles out of the gate. Wyshynski tackles the anemic penalty kill while Lazerus touches on a number of issues that have been plaguing the Hawks.
Wyshynski begins with the penalty kill, pointing out the unusually bad stats (46%) but looking at it closer and highlighting some of the anomalies contributing to the struggles. Wyshynski points to usual stalwarts Duncan Keith and Niklas Hjalmarsson, both of whom have been on the ice for nine goals against when defending against the man advantage. Captain Jonathan Toews has been on the ice for seven out of 14 power play goals against, while Marcus Kruger has seen six pucks head into the net during a kill. On Corey Crawford, Wyshynski says this:
Corey Crawford, meanwhile, has faced nine high-danger chances on the PK and let in six goals, giving him the lowest HD save percentage in the league on the penalty kill (via Corsica). That ranks fifth in high-danger chances shorthanded and first in goals allowed. He’s not bailing them out.
Will it turn around? Wyshynski figures that when Andrew Desjardins returns from injury, it will boost the penalty kill unit. While it won’t be as dominant as it once was with the current cast of players, Wyshynski figures it to improve from the disappointing start.
Lazerus scours some of the other issues plaguing the Hawks. Aside from the penalty kill, Lazerus writes that the grueling schedule certainly isn’t doing Chicago any favors. From Patrick Kane:
“We have a lot of young guys that probably haven’t played in that type of scheduling before,” Kane said. “It’s something to get used to, and something for us veteran guys to lead by example and make sure we’re getting off to good starts. Especially in the United Center. There’s no excuse not to come out and have a good first period and dictate the pace of play right away.”
Lazerus also points to the lack of production from key players. Toews has yet to score in seven games. Artem Anisimov has been great on the score sheet but struggling in the faceoff circle (35%). Richard Panik has been a nice surprise and Crawford has been stellar at even strength, only giving up three goals at 5 on 5. Despite the negatives, there have been positives, such as Panik and Crawford, to feel good about as a Chicago fan.
Lazerus finishes by saying that the “troubling signs” are of a team trying to figure things out–something unlike the championship Hawk squads of seasons past.