Sidney Brown provides dispatches from the front lines of Blackhawks fandom every week during the hockey season.
As a team that has one of the best home records in the NHL at 14-4-1, you’d think that winning would come easier all around for the Chicago Blackhawks, but on the flip side this team is carrying an 6-8-3 road record that doesn’t light up the stat sheet and should be an area of concern for fans.
After being shutout at Dallas against the Stars on Tuesday, Chicago holds a record of 4-6-1 against their Central division opponents and it’s only going to get tougher as the 2015-16 season continues.
The only thing to hold your head up if your a Hawks fan is the fact that Chicago displays a record of 14-7-3 against the Western Conference and as always against better competition, the Hawks are prepared and usually play their best.
Injuries are going to be an obstacle during any season and the Hawks have had their share within the last few seasons and last Thursday was no different. Fourth line center Marcus Kruger left the game against Edmonton in a 4-0 victory with a left wrist injury which required surgery the next day.
Kruger will be sidelined for the rest of the regular season and his presence will be missed. With only one assist so far this season, Kruger’s impact cannot be forgotten especially on the penalty kill unit which has been one of the Hawks strengths in years past.
Without Kruger, everybody must step up to the plate and share the responsibility of shutting down opponents power play. Phillip Danault was recalled from the Rockford Ice Hogs (AHL) to take Kruger’s place on the roster.
With the penalty kill currently ranked 10th in the NHL, this unit will take a bit of a hit, but as long as its play is consistent heading towards the playoffs, it would be a plus and Kruger’s return to the lineup hopefully at the start of the playoffs will be big.
Here are a few players that caught my eye during the past week:
Artemi Panarin: 1 goal, 1 assist (3 goals, 5 assists during December).
Dennis Rasmussen: 3 goals, 1 assist — his impact on the third line with Bryan Bickell and Andrew Shaw has paid off in a major way.
Bryan Bickell: 2 assists — ever since being recalled from Rockford, Bickell has made an impact with his physical play but his offense is starting to pickup a bit and hopefully goals will come along in the near future.
Jonathan Toews: 2 goals, 2 assists — Toews’ scoring has picked up recently including a 1 goal, 2 assist performance against Edmonton last Thursday.
Corey Crawford: Last 11 starts — 7-3-1 record, 1.72 Goals Against. 944 save percentage. Despite the loss at Dallas on Tuesday, Crawford’s play has been stellar and has kept the Hawks afloat in the Central division. Hopefully a more consistent offense can start complementing his play.
To “Captain Serious” Jonathan Toews for playing in his 600th career game this past Sunday, a 4-3 overtime victory against San Jose in which he scored the game-winning goal.
Points: Patrick Kane (50); Goals: Kane (21); Assists: Kane (29); Penalty Minutes: Andrew Shaw (29); Goals Against Average: Corey Crawford (2.22)
Goals Per Game: 2.6 (14th in NHL)
Goals Against: 2.4 (8th in NHL)
Power Play: 21.6% (4th in NHL)
Penalty Kill: 82% (10th in NHL)
The Road Ahead (Through 12/31)*
Sunday vs. Carolina Hurricanes — 6 pm
Tuesday at Arizona Coyotes — 8 pm
Dec. 31 at Colorado Avalanche — 7 pm
*All times central
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