Sidney Brown provides dispatches from the front lines of Blackhawks fandom every week during the hockey season.
Three teams and 10 points stand in between the Chicago Blackhawks and the top of the Central Division. Seems like a bit of a challenge, but the climb back to prominence could feature two major factors to get the team back on track.
First, the goaltending, led by Corey Crawford — who was named the NHL’s #1 Star last Monday — who posted a 3-0-0 record with a save percentage of .989 and a 0.33 goals against average with two shutouts in wins against Nashville, Winnipeg and Vancouver. Crawford’s play in net has kept the Hawks in many games this season and last week was primary proof of that in his pitching back to back shutouts against the latter two teams.
While Patrick Kane takes care of the scoring, Crawford’s strong performances, along with a solid defensive team effort, has helped the Men in Red stay competitive in the Central, within two points of second-place St. Louis, who has 40, meanwhile the Dallas Stars are well in control so far with 48 points from an NHL-leading 23 wins.
Second, the special teams — the penalty kill unit went 12 for 13 in keeping their opponents off the scoreboard and have killed off 16 out of their last 17 opponent’s chances. The 10th ranked unit in the league has improved in recent weeks after struggling in the month of November, and remember, this unit has been solid during their Stanley Cup winning seasons.
With all this said, we can’t forget about Patrick Kane’s point streak coming to an end on Tuesday in a 3-0 loss to Colorado. It was a great ride for fans and media alike while it lasted, but it’s now time for the other standout players like Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa and others to step up and help out the league’s hottest scorer.
Notes on Kane’s 26 Game Point Streak
*11th longest point streak in NHL history
*Point breakdown — 16 goals and 24 assists
*Tuesday: first game without point since October 15th (at Washington)
*Longest streak since 1992-93 (Mats Sundin, 30 games)
Before Tuesday’s game against Colorado, the Hawks traded defenseman Trevor Daley to the Pittsburgh Penguins for defenseman Rob Scuderi. Daley’s $4.42 million salary will be the cap hit for Pittsburgh while Scuderi’s $2.25 million salary will be the cap hit for the Hawks.
Daley struggled to find his way in a Hawks uniform as he tallied just six assists this season while playing in a fast-paced scoring system. A transition to the Penguins should improve his stat sheet. Scuderi, a former Stanley Cup champion, brings experience in killing off penalties while providing quality minutes on the ice, he was paired up with veteran Michal Rozsival in his first game for Chicago on Tuesday.
*To Marian Hossa for playing in his 1,200th career game in the NHL in Sunday’s win over the Vancouver Canucks.
NHL Rank Among Active Players
Games — 1,200 (10th overall)
Goals — 491 (3rd)
Assists — 578 (7th)
Points — 1,069 (4th)
Power Play Goals — 138 (5th)
Shorthanded Goals — 30 (1st)
*To defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson for playing in his 500th career game in the NHL in Sunday’s win over the Vancouver Canucks. Hjalmarsson is an important part of the Hawks’ penalty kill unit as he willingly sacrifices his body to lead the team in blocked shots.
Team Comparison Through 30 Games (Before Sunday)
Record 11-3-1 5-7-3
Goals Per Game 2.93 2.47
Goals Against 1.67 3.33
Power Play 21.1% 23.8%
Penalty Kill 89.5% 73.9%
Points: Patrick Kane (46); Goals: Kane (19); Assists: Kane (27); Penalty Minutes: Jonathan Toews (28); Goals Against Average: Corey Crawford (2.22)
Goals Per Game: 2.7 (12th in NHL)
Goals Against: 2.4 (12th in NHL)
Power Play: 22.3% (3rd in NHL)
Penalty Kill: 82.4% (10th in NHL)
The Road Ahead (Through 12/22)*
Tonight vs. Edmonton Oilers — 7:30 pm
Saturday at Buffalo Sabres — 12 pm
Sunday vs. San Jose Sharks — 6 pm
Dec. 22 vs. Dallas Stars — 7:30 pm
*All times central
Follow Regal Radio on Twitter @regalradio1 and on Facebook under Regal Radio; Follow Regal Radio on Twitter @regalradio1 and Sidney Brown @sidkid80