Look out for Sidney Brown’s weekly dispatches from the front lines of Blackhawks fandom every week during the hockey season.
Still struggling to find an identity for this season and still continuing to give up more goals than they produce (including 10 goals in two of three games before last Sunday’s win versus Edmonton), the Chicago Blackhawks are obviously a team that still needs time to come together.
Blowing a three goal lead at home to your division rival (St. Louis) and coming out flat on the road (New Jersey), giving up three goals in the opening period, are definite causes for posting red flags. Many would attribute these early season struggles to the absence of Duncan Keith, others would point to lack of inconsistent play overall, especially on defense, and others will point the finger at… the goaltending.
Yes, the new players on the Hawks roster were given time to adjust to a new system but there’s no excuse for the lack of effort they’ve shown in not completing games as well as coming out flat to start some games. Team goaltending has typically been a whipping boy for the fans, most often its been so unfairly and this is time is no different — the net play has been clearly one of the strongest points of the Hawks and surely bad performances for any goalie are bound to happen every once in a while.
Corey Crawford has proven in the past that he’s willing to step up in crucial moments and carry the Hawks. Regarding poor performances, it must be noted that Crawford always bounces back and his 34 saves and only two goals allowed in a victory over Edmonton last Sunday proved to be what the doctor ordered at the right time. Let’s take a closer look at bounce-back performances in goal.
Resurrecting the Crow
Regular Season Starts After Allowing 5 Goals (2012-13 to Present)
1.14 Goals Allowed Average
Goals Against — 7
Shots Against — 179
Save Percentage — .961
Kane on a Mission
It’s safe to say that Patrick Kane is determined to start this season a certain way, in particular a way that deflects the attention of his high-profiled off-season situation into something positive on the ice.
While his season is being magnified very closely, history shows that Kane typically comes out ready to go. Finishing seasons has been a problem, typically due to injuries, but during his career Kane has proved for Hawks hot scoring starts, everything starts and ends with No. 88.
Kane’s First 13 Games
Goals Assists Points
2007-08 5 11 16
2008-09 7 11 18
2009-10 4 8 12
2010-11 3 8 11
2011-12 4 11 15
2012-13 9 11 20
2013-14 7 4 11
2014-15 4 5 9
2015-16 8 10 18 (Through 11/6)
Besides the goaltending, another element as to why the Hawks are just keeping their head above water at 8-6-1 is the play of the team’s second line, which includes Artemi Panarin and Artem Anisimov.
Yes, there have been other players that have been forcibly paired with Kane and Anisimov due to injuries, but it’s obvious that both Anisimov and Panarin have given Kane more than enough space on the ice to create plays for his teammates and scores big goals. It isn’t a coincidence that Kaner has the longest current streak in the NHL with ten games with at least one point.
Longest Point Streaks (2015-16 Season)
Patrick Kane (CHI) — 10 *
David Krecci (BOS) — 9
Tyler Seguin (DAL) — 8 *
Blake Wheeler (WPG) — 8
Mikko Koivu (MIN) — 8
* – Active Streaks
With the win over the Edmonton Oilers last Sunday, hopefully it’s a sign of good things to come and with three games remaining, including two at the United Center, the Hawks will have a chance to make up ground in their division before their end of the month circus road trip.
The road has not been kind to the Men in Red, but putting a winning streak together will change their circumstances before heading back out on the road.
*To Patrick Kane being named the NHL’s #1 Star of the Week for the week ending 11/8.
*To the 2015 Class that was recently announced to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame — Segei Federov, Phil Housley, Nicklas Lindstrom, Chris Pronger, Bill Kay, Peter Karmanos, Jr. and Angela Ruggiero
*To Marcus Kruger for playing in his 300th career game with the Hawks in Wednesday’s game against St. Louis.
*To coach Joel Quenneville for being named an assistant coach on the Canada Men’s national hockey team.
*To Artem Anisimov for netting his 200th career NHL point with an assist on Patrick Kane’s third period goal in a 4-2 win over Edmonton last Sunday.
Points: Patrick Kane (23); Goals: Kane (10); Assists: Kane (13); Penalty Minutes: Jonathan Toews; Goals Against Average: Corey Crawford (1.76)
Goals Per Game: 2.6 (15th in NHL)
Goals Against: 2.5 (14th in NHL)
Power Play: 18.9% (12th in NHL)
Penalty Kill: 81.1% (14th in NHL)
The Road Ahead (Through 11/15)*
Thursday vs. New Jersey Devils — 7:30 pm
Saturday at St. Louis Blues — 7 pm
Sunday vs Calgary Flames — 7:30 pm
*All times central
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