Sidney Brown brings his weekly dispatches from the front lines of Chicago Blackhawks fandom every week during the hockey season.
The Chicago Blackhawks were given an eight-game home stand in February and produced a 3-2-3 record out of it.
Could be worse, right? If only they knew.
The Hawks’ 2014-15 season took an unexpected and completely unwanted turn on Tuesday night when Patrick Kane suffered what was first diagnosed as an “upper body injury” along the boards in a 3-2 shootout win against Florida. Wednesday, Hawks fans and followers got the whole news — broken clavicle, recovery will take at least 12 weeks.
Surgery to repair the clavicle was reported as successful, but it won’t make Kaner ready for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, which begin in a mere seven weeks. Paired with the devastating news of Derrick Rose, Kane — one of Chicago’s great current champions — was able to take part in one of the city’s most infamous sports days.
Kane leaves this season as an would-be MVP, one who lead the NHL in points with 64 as he was injured at the 12 minute, 11 second mark in the opening period when Florida’s Alex Petrovic sent him flying along the boards with little ability to protect himself. Petrovic was given a two minute minor penalty for cross checking.
An argument could be made for Kane as the most skilled offensive player in the NHL and his presence will be missed deeply, which means other players MUST step up. Patrick Sharp, Marian Hossa and Jonathan Toews will be expected to play some of their best hockey throughout the upcoming stretch if Chicago is gonna keep the ship afloat until the playoffs.
The Hawks went through a similar, yet shorter, situation last season when Toews and Kane were out of the lineup due to injuries that ended their regular seasons. One thing that the Hawks have maintained then and now is an impressive amount of roster depth, they’ll have to tap into every bit of it as long as Kane is unavailable. A main element that will be compared pre-Kane and post-Kane will be the contributions of the second line, which he played on with Brad Richards and Kris Versteeg.
We all know that Kane is as skilled a scorer as there is in the game, but another important element of his game that the Hawks will miss is his improved defense, as of late he was also making a more convincing argument for being one of the NHL’s best two-way players.
Still, offense is where Kane’s bread is buttered and this year was providing arguably the best stats of his career. Let’s take a look at the breakdown of his season:
Overall — 27 Goals, 37 Assists, 64 Points
Home (splits) — 12 G, 20 A, 32 Pts
Road (splits) — 15 G, 17 A, 32 Pts
In Wins — 22 G, 29 A, 51 Pts
Losses — 5 G, 8 A, 13 Pts
It’s very clear that Kane brings value to the ice and it will be missed. Kane is worth the price of admission and belongs with the elite scoring talent in the NHL with the likes of Alex Ovechkin (Washington), Rick Nash (NY Rangers), Steven Stamkos (TB) and Sidney Crosby (PIT).
Other Chiago veterans must show leadership and work collectively to fill the stat sheet and hopefully the team can start fresh with a healthy Kane at some point in the postseason.
Corey Crawford’s Struggles
With the completion of their recent eight-game home stand, which saw the Hawks post a slightly winning record, much was exposed that the Hawks probably wished wasn’t. Unfortunately, more problems could be laid out for all to see in the foreseeable future.
For the offense the performance has just been less than stellar and during the home stand the Hawks scored more than two goals only twice and was outscored 12 to 5 in their last three games. The Hawks are very much front runners, they hold a 19-0 record when leading after two periods and are 25-7-2 when scoring first.
For the first time all season, the play of Corey Crawford has produced reason for it to be under fire, it all starts with the numbers from the last two games, which show a reason for concern.
Last 3 Periods
Opponent/Period Goals Shots On Goal
Colorado/3rd 3 13
Boston/1st 2 8
Boston/2nd 2 6
In his last five games, Crawford has posted a record of 2-2-1 with 12 goals allowed and a .911 save percentage. Also, Crawford has given up 7 goals in his last 27 shots.
All players have bad days at the office and Crawford is going to go through his. With the news of Kane’s injury you can only hope that fans chould back off a bit and realize that when the Hawks previously struggled, especially in the month of October, Crawford carried the Hawks to victories that they had no business winning.
Crawford has already shown that he can deliver on a big stage, the 2013 Stanley Cup run being Exhibit A. With his experience and with today’s bad news, Crawford should be the least of most Hawks fans problems.
To Patrick Sharp for netting home his 500th career point as a member of the Chicago Blackhawks with an assist on Kris Versteeg’s goal in the win against Florida.
For his Hawks career, Sharp has a total of 233 goals along with 267 assists, his consistent production will be much needed during the absence of Patrick Kane.
Goals — Patrick Kane (27); Assists — Kane (37); Points — Kane (64); Goals Against Average — Antti Raanta (1.89); Penalty Minutes — Daniel Carcillo (49).
Goals Per Game: 2.8 (10th in NHL)
Goals Allowed: 2.3 (3rd in NHL)
Power Play Percentage: 18.7 (11th in NHL)
Penalty Kill Percentage: 86.3 (2nd in NHL)
The Road Ahead (2/25 – 3/3)*
Thursday at Florida Panthers — 6:30 p.m.
Friday at Tampa Bay Lightning — 7 p.m.
Monday vs. Carolina Hurricanes — 7:30 p.m.
*All Times Central
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