As the holiday season approaches, PHR will take a look at what teams are thankful for as the season heads past the one-quarter mark. There also might be a few things your team would like down the road. We’ll examine what’s gone well in the early going and what could improve as the season rolls on for the Chicago Blackhawks.
What are the Blackhawks most thankful for?
After several years of watching and waiting for Corey Crawford to return to full health after a slew of concussion issues, the team splurged and signed Masterson and Jennings Trophy winner Robin Lehner as an insurance policy. The team hoped Crawford could bounce back, but after two years of unreliable backup options, the team felt that Lehner was the perfect addition for one season.
Instead, Lehner has been sensations (minus his struggles with shootouts), but the 28-year-old has a 2.71 GAA, but an even more impressive .929 save percentage in 15 appearances. However, Crawford has bounced back as well with a 2.89 GAA and a .912 save percentage, giving the team an impressive one-two combination.
Who are the Blackhawks most thankful for?
The Blackhawks leader continues to post impressive numbers as the 31-year-old leads the team in scoring, showing that he remains an elite scorer. The winger is ranked eighth in the NHL with 35 points and is also ranked 12th in the league with 14 goals. He’s also tied for seventh in the league with 109 shots on goal and the veteran is ranked fifth in the league, among forwards, in TOI as he averages 21:28 on the ice.
With other players struggling to produce offense, the team at least knows it can count on Kane to provide his usual amount of offense as he continues to carry the team on his back.
What would the Blackhawks be even more thankful for?
While Kane is among the top in the league in points, the rest of the Blackhawks squad is quite a bit back. Even Alex DeBrincat isn’t putting up points at the same level he did a year ago as the 21-year-old has just 21 points through 29 games after a 78-point season last season. Fellow star Jonathan Toews has seen his offense plummet even more. Toews has just 15 points this season after an 81-point campaign last year.
Even the defense is struggling to produce points. Erik Gustafsson, who tallied 60 points last season, has just 10 points more than a third into the season.
What should be on the Blackhawks’ Holiday Wish List?
An improvement on defense.
The Blackhawks and their general manager Stan Bowman made changes in hopes of improving their defense this summer. The team traded for Calvin de Haan and Olli Maatta to add to their depth in hopes that Duncan Keith and Gustafsson as well as Connor Murphy and Brent Seabrook would be able to take their struggling defense to another level.
Unfortunately, that hasn’t happened. The Blackhawks are ranked 30th in shots allowed as the team has allowed 35.7 shots per game, forcing their goaltending tandem to work harder.
The team has to hope that youngster Adam Boqvist can make the transition to the NHL as quick as possible. The team played him for six games earlier in the season, but he has since been returned, but you have to figure the team will give him another chance. Another late-season possibility might be if the Blackhawks can convince University of Denver’s Ian Mitchell to turn pro after his season, but it might be too late for that this year.
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