Sidney Brown provides dispatches from the front lines of Blackhawks fandom every week during the hockey season.
An overtime game-winner to started the latest Circus Trip for the Chicago Blackhawks but they only hold a 1-1-1 record through three games so far.
Inconsistent play has been the back breaker for the Hawks in this young season and its shown in the last trio of efforts. In Edmonton the team showed their toughness and grit, while meltdowns in the third periods against Calgary and Vancouver clearly displayed the team’s flaws.
One area that has been overlooked this season to this point has been the Hawks’ play with their special teams unit.
Suprisingly, Chicago’s power play has been in the top ten in the NHL and their performance during the first half of this road trip proved to be worthy of praise, producing three goals out of seven chances and scoring a goal with an extra man in six of their last seven games.
On the flip side, the penalty kill unit has taken a nose dive, now ranking 20th overall and giving up three power goals to Vancouver in last Saturday’s loss doesn’t help matters. Overall for the trip thus far the Hawks have let up goals in six of nine opposition power play opportunities.
Star Road Report
In my last post I outlined the Hawks veterans who had to step up to lead the team if they’re going to win more consistently, namely captain Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa, and they have continued their consistent hot play by combining for a total of 4 points (2 goals) with each player tallying a goal and an assist so far on the trip.
The top line led by Toews and Hossa has been setting tone well in the last few games and it will be crucial for this tandem to keep playing at a high level with three tough opponents coming to finish the road trip.
As far as team goaltending is concerned, Corey Crawford has given up a total of 8 goals in his two games on this trip, going 1-1 in that span, but hopefully it’s just a temporary wall, the kind of thing Crawford is known for getting over in a hurry. Backup Scott Darling looked stellar in his only start in last Friday’s loss at Calgary, allowing just one goal, but unfortunately the offense was out to lunch and unable to help him out as the Flames won 2-1.
Kane Can’t Be Stopped
Kane’s continually hot, career-high point streak has reached 16 games and it looks like there’s no end in sight to it, even though this man is human (I guess) and the streak will eventually come to an end at some point (again, I guess).
For now, as it extended into the first half of the road trip, Kane tallied 4 assists, including two in the overtime victory over Edmonton, proving once again that he doesn’t have to be in the middle of a highlight to make an impact and that his hockey I.Q. is second to none.
As I’ve pointed out before, Kane has been known to start out seasons on fire and with his current point streak has put himself with truly great company in Hawks franchise history.
Most Points In First 20 Games (Since 1989-90)
Patrick Kane 2015-16 31
Jeremy Roenick 1993-94 30
Steve Larmer 1990-91 29
Patrick Kane 2008-09 26
Jeremy Roenick 1991-92 25
Kane Streak Point Breakdown
Games with 1 Point — 9
Games with 2 Points — 5
Games with 3 Points — 1
Games with 4 Points — 1
The remaining schedule to finish this road trip will not be easy with the competition being at its strongest. The Hawks have proved in the past that with contending teams, they usually step up to the plate and deliver with victories the majority of the time and their dominance of the Pacific Division has proven that over the recent seasons.
Best Records Against Any Division (Since 2013-14 Season)*
Chicago vs. Pacific — 32-6-10, .771 win percent
Montreal vs. Metropolitan — 37-10-6, .755
St. Louis vs. Atlantic — 24-6-6, .750
Dallas vs. Pacific — 32-9-5, .750
If the Hawks want to finish this year’s Circus Trip on high note like in year’s past, they will have to sure up the penalty kill, get the goaltending back on track and play better defensively for 60 minutes not having meltdowns in crucial moments of games.
Points: Patrick Kane (32); Goals: Kane (13); Assists: Kane (19); Penalty Minutes: Jonathan Toews (26); Goals Against Average: Scott Darling (2.52)
Goals Per Game: 2.7 (14th in NHL)
Goals Against: 2.6 (16th in NHL)
Power Play: 21.1% (8th in NHL)
Penalty Kill: 78.9% (20th in NHL)
The Road Ahead (Through 11/28)*
Tonight at San Jose Sharks — 9 pm
Friday at Anaheim Ducks — 4 pm
Saturday at Los Angeles Kings — 9:30 pm
*All times central
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