As the holiday season approaches, PHR will look at what teams are thankful for this year. There also might be a few things your team would like down the road. We take a look at what’s gone well in the first month and what could improve as the season rolls on.
What are the Chicago Blackhawks most thankful for?
Breaking that goal scoring drought.
After a prolonged struggle where fans, and pundits were wondering what was ailing the team, the Blackhawks rallied to beat Carolina, and though they lost 7-5 to New Jersey, showed their offense was able to show up for more than just a couple goals. They cooled off the Rangers thanks to an Artem Anisimov hat trick on Wednesday, and then beat the defending champs last night 2-1. More reassuring is that the power play, which had been sputtering, has been more effective, scoring at a 29.4% clip (5/17) against Carolina, New Jersey, New York, and Pittsburgh.
Who are the Blackhawks most thankful for?
The veteran netminder has been clutch for the team this year, keeping them in the games while they struggled to find the back of the net. This season, Crawford has a .933 save percentage, with .934 during even strength and an astounding .920 save percentage on the penalty kill. As a comparison, during the Hawks’ last Stanley Cup winning season in 2015, it was .879. That’s with a solid blue line, and stingy back checking, penalty killing forwards in Marcus Kruger, Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa, and Brandon Saad.
Crawford has put the team on his back during its struggles and though at some point, he’ll come back to earth a bit, there’s no question how important he’s been for them between the pipes.
What would the Blackhawks be more thankful for?
A top pairing defenseman.
This isn’t to disparage Duncan Keith or Brent Seabrook because they’re still good in their own right. But they also look slower and older–thanks to years of deep playoff runs. The Hawks have several good options, but Connor Murphy hasn’t been as strong as they initially thought he would be. Gustav Forsling is getting better with each game, but they’re just lacking that top defenseman that helped carry them to three Stanley Cups. The tricky part, of course, is the salary cap situation along with who they would trade in order to get that caliber of a defenseman.
What should be on the Blackhawks’ Holiday Wish List?
Defensive help, moreso for depth if they can’t acquire (because it’d be so . Offensively they look solid with Alex DeBrincat coming into his own. Acquiring a defenseman at a rental price, such as Mike Green from the Red Wings (should he be made available) could do wonders for a team that could use a boost on the blueline. It also wouldn’t burden the cap for next season as his contract would expire at the end of the season. Green is just one of many defensemen that could take an average blueline into an above-average one capable of taking them deeper into the playoffs.
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