Sidney Brown brings his weekly dispatches from the front lines of Blackhawks fandom every week during the hockey season. Check out his opening post of this season here.
The 2014-15 NHL season is underway and the men from the West Side of Chicago are off and running.
With a 3-0-1 start, the Chicago Blackhawks have got going in a way that most experts expected, considering their featuring a mostly veteran roster. Even though we’ve only been through one week of the new season, there are things that I’m clearly satisfied with and there’s some things that are concerning to me.
Players Catching My Eye
Daniel Carcillo — 1 goal (12 shots on goal)
Andrew Shaw — 2 goals, 1 assist
Brandon Saad – 3 assists
Jonathan Toews – 1 goal, 3 assists (including on the shorthanded game-winner versus Nashville)
Patrick Kane – 1 goal, 2 assists
Duncan Keith – 2 goals, 1 assists
Old Habits Are Hard To Break
Last season my complaints regarding the Hawks’ penalty kill unit were at an all time high as this unit struggled early last season but eventually turned their play around in time for the playoffs, but it looks like the downward trend is back in effect this season.
The PK unit has worked overtime to keep opponents off the scoreboard because of the team taking unnecessary penalties. This problem reared its ugly head on opening night in Dallas, where the Hawks were called for six penalties and again against Nashville with four penalties. Slow starts to games can lead to undisciplined play, which has hurt the Hawks but not so much to keep them from winning, so far. This trend must stop, especially as games come against the super teams in the West — Anaheim, San Jose and the LA Kings among them.
The power play unit finished in the top ten in the NHL last season and it’s off to what I believe to be an okay start, going 3 for 21, but a lack of taking advantage of power play opportunities will eventually come back to haunt you and this piece of evidence was on display vs. Calgary (1-7) and Nashville (0-5), to whom the Hawks went 1-1 against. With new guys like Brad Richards leading the second PP unit, it will only be a matter of time before this unit catches on and begins scoring goals at a rapid pace.
The Hawks will face better competition to end the month of October, including four home games featuring the young Philadelphia Flyers and the Anaheim Ducks with new addition Ryan Kessler and three road games featuring the hated St. Louis Blues and division rival Nashville Predators. This mini-test to come should start to shape into form just who the 2014-15 Hawks will be.
Player of the Week (ending 10/19)
Patrick Sharp — 2 Goals, 2 Assists (4 Points)
Goals per game: 2.8 (16th in NHL)
Goals against: 1.8 (5th in NHL)
Power Play percentage: 14.3 (19th in NHL)
Penalty Kill percentage: 86.7 (12th in NHL)
Goals — Patrick Sharp (4); Assists — Jonathan Toews (3); Points — Sharp (4); Goals Against Average — Corey Crawford (1.66); Penalty Minutes — Niklas Hjalmarsson (8).
The Week Ahead
Tonight — vs. Philadelphia, 7:30 pm; Thursday — at Nashville, 7 pm; Saturday — at St. Louis, 7 PM; Sunday — vs. Ottawa, 7 PM.
(All times Central)
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