The Chicago Blackhawks are seeing an increase in their performance thanks to better puck possession writes the Chicago Tribune’s Chris Hine. Aside from the metrics, where the Hawks are dominating opponents in five-on-five, but Hine is quick to point out that the puck possession is nothing near what the Hawks posted during their Cup runs in 2010, 2013, and 2015, where they were first, fourth, and second respectively. They’ve been twelfth since the beginning of February in Corsi percentage, and thirteenth for the season. While players are also feeling more comfort as the playoffs loom, advanced stats mavens will be quick to point out that it’s a far cry from Chicago’s championship-caliber seasons.
In other Central Division news:
- Jared Bednar is expected to return to the Avalanche next season reports the Denver Post’s Terry Frei. Bednar is quoted as saying that the franchise is “working toward something” instead of it just being a one off “horrific” season. No one would blame Bednar for wanting to walk away from a job that Patrick Roy all but ran away from. In the same vein, would it be fair to fire the first year coach? Frei points out that the Avs are on pace to be the worst statistical team since the Atlanta Thrashers back in 1999-2000, when the Thrashers were an expansion team. Frei adds that dumping Bednar during what has felt like a “Groundhog Day” season would be unfair and ultimately unlikely since Joe Sakic should also be back. Frei sees Sakic giving Bednar a second season. But Frei stops himself there, noting though every question about Bednar’s job status to Sakic has yielded a response of Bednar’s job security being certain, Frei says that nothing is ever for certain. Reflecting on a long career covering hockey, Frei states that sometimes even the most “sincerely stated plans can go out the window.”
- Former Stars goaltender Eddie Belfour was candid with the Dallas Morning News’ Mike Heika, saying that he believes it takes a great defense in front of a goaltender to truly create a winning formula. Returning for the Stars-Blackhawks game on Thursday at the United Center, Belfour enjoyed several successful seasons with both teams. Both featured strong defenses and appeared in a Stanley Cup Final and won a Cup respectively. For Belfour, it’s a no brainer: a great goalie is buoyed by a greater defense.