Sidney Brown provides dispatches from the front lines of Blackhawks fandom every week during the hockey season.
As the calendar flipped to January and people shook off the revelry from saying goodbye to 2016, the Chicago Blackhawks received a rude wakeup call on New Year’s Day with a loss to their hated division rival St. Louis Blues in the annual Winter Classic.
Since then, the Hawks managed to turn it around by winning four straight games, all on the home ice of the United Center. Things appeared to be back to normal, but with a lackluster effort at Washington being followed by blowing a two-goal lead to division rival Minnesota at the UC, which leaves the Men in Red with a current two-game losing streak and a unfamiliar sitting in second place showing in the Central division.
You may ask why is this team so inconsistent? There are many reasons — lack of strong play by the defensemen, depending too much on the goaltending to bail them out, inconsistent scoring and committing dumb penalties. Problems like these have been a crutch in years past but this season they have seemed to be bigger issues thanks to the prevailing youth throughout the Hawks roster. Can these issues be corrected? Yes, but the process must start now.
On the flip side, some key veteran stars for Chicago have stepped up in the first two weeks of the new year to keep the Hawks in contention. Let’s take a look at the numbers.
January Numbers (Prior to 1/17)
Jonathon Toews: Goal, 2 assists
Patrick Kane: 3G, 7A
Artem Anisimov: 2G, 2A
Artemi Panarin: 2G, 3A
Marian Hossa: 2A
With the recent injury to Marcus Kruger, the Hawks penalty kill unit has suffered a major setback, but had held serve to start off the month with respectability. The PK unit has also had to work overtime at times due to bad penalties being taken at crucial times.
As far as the power play is concerned, the flow of scoring comes in epic flow during a season and right now the Hawks are going through a lull with the man advantage.
Power Play: 3 for 19
Penalty Kill: 12 for 15
With five games remaining until the all star break, the Hawks must get back to playing full 60 minute games with limited mistakes, helping out their goaltending and get consistent scoring from all four lines. The schedule is set in their favor with three home games and two divisional opponents on the upcoming slate.
To rookie forward Ryan Hartman, for recording his first career hat trick in the NHL in a 5-2 win against Nashville on January 8th.
To defenseman Duncan Keith, for scoring his second career overtime goal in a 4-3 win versus Detroit on January 10th.
To Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith and Corey Crawford for all being named to the 2017 NHL All Star Team. The All-Star game will take place in Los Angeles on January 29th .
Goals Against Average: 2.5 (7th in NHL)
Goals Per Game: 2.7 (16th in NHL)
Power Play Percentage: 18.6 (14th in NHL)
Penalty Kill Percentage: 75.6 (28th in NHL)
Points: Patrick Kane (47); Goals: Artem Anisimov (18); Assists: Kane (33); Penalty Minutes: Kane (24); Goals Against Average: Scott Darling (2.34)
The Road Ahead (Thru 1/26)
Tonight at Colorado Avalanche — 8 PM
Friday at Boston Bruins — 6 PM
Sunday vs. Vancouver Canucks — 6 PM
1/24 vs. Tampa Bay Lightning — 7:30 PM
1/26 vs. Winnipeg Jets — 7:30 PM (End of 1st Half)
*All times central
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