Sidney Brown brings his weekly dispatches from the front lines of Blackhawks fandom every week during the hockey season.
In sports, your record says a lot of who you are, just ask this year’s Chicago Bears. At this point, the Chicago Blackhawks are also learning similar hard lessons.
Losers of five of their last seven games, including two shutouts at home in the past week, the now 6-5-1 Chicago Hawks are in a rare funk to start a season with many reasons to stem from their inconsistent play.
First off, the team simply isn’t scoring enough. The power — literal and figurative — has been out for the Hawks for the last 95+ minutes, the team has not scored since 4 minutes and 18 seconds into its 3-2 loss to Toronto on Saturday. That doesn’t sound like a long time in days but the minute counter is disheartening and it will continue to tick tonight against a tough Montreal Canadiens squad.
So why aren’t the Hawks not scoring enough? The Power play for this past week went 2 for 14, both successful attempts coming Saturday at Toronto (2 for 4). Lack of effectiveness on the power play can be attributed to a lack of patience and hitting the puck on the post on several occasions as well as opponents taking away space. Chicago must be patient and be more efficient in order for its fortunes with the man advantage to turn around.
Secondly, being shutout twice is un-Hawks like but it still happens on rare occasions. Last Tuesday’s game against Anaheim and last Sunday’s game versus Winnipeg were great examples of the Hawks playing inconsistently for 60 minutes while turning pucks over, not clearing the zone and trying to make the “perfect” pass to score goals.
When things aren’t going your way offensively you crash the net and create traffic in front of the goalie. In the past when the Hawks have done that, they usually won. The lack of puck control gives your opponent an advantage to create scoring chances and great examples were shown against both Toronto and Winnipeg.
Can this ship turn around? YES! The Hawks must get back to playing their game and controlling pace right from the start while helping out starting goalie Corey Crawford defensively by clearing pucks and not turning it over. The schedule for this week gets a little tough, but this would be a fine time to start really enforcing these habits against playoff-caliber teams.
Player of the Week
Brad Richards — After 1 goal and 1 assist this week I guess my post from last week got to Mr. Richards and motivated him. Richards scored his first goal of the year on a power play opportunity at Toronto.
Hopefully Richards has made the necessary adjustments from playing a more deliberate style in the Eastern Conference the last few years to now playing in the high-powered offensive unit that needs to score goals at a rapid pace to keep up in the free-wheeling Western Conference.
To Marian Hossa for becoming the 80th player in NHL history — and the fifth player in a Blackhawks uniform — to achieve 1,000 career points, doing so in Thursday’s victory at Ottawa, where coincidentally his career began.
Hossa Point Breakdown
1100 Games 326
466 Goals 127
534 Assists 154
1,000 Points 281
Other Hawks To Collect 1,000 Points
Bobby Hull — 12/13/1970
Stan Mikita — 10/15/1972
Michel Goulet — 2/23/1991
Denis Savard — 3/11/1990
Goals per game: 2.3 (25th in NHL)
Goals against: 1.9 (6th in NHL)
Power Play percentage: 18.4 (17th in NHL)
Penalty Kill percentage: 91.9 (3rd in NHL)
Goals — Jonathan Toews (4); Assists — Brandon Saad (6); Points — Patrick Sharp (8); Goals Against Average — Corey Crawford (1.78); Penalty Minutes — Niklas Hjalmarsson (12).
The Week Ahead
Tonight — at Montreal, 6:30 pm; Friday — vs. Washington, 7:30 PM; Sunday — vs. San Jose, 6 PM.
*All times Central
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