Sidney Brown provides dispatches from the front lines of Blackhawks fandom every week during the hockey season.
With a week left in the 2016-17 regular season, the Chicago Blackhawks seem to have everything aligned for a potential long playoff run.
Clinching both the Central Division and the Western Conference with a current record of 50-22-7 gives the Men in Red the opportunity to rest players who are injured and or fatigued in preparation for the postseason. A 2-2-1 record in their last five games doesn’t look that impressive, but the month of March was very kind to the Hawks competitively, including 11 wins over the likes of Pittsburgh (2x), Nashville, Minnesota and Columbus.
Also, let’s not overlook Chicago’s penalty kill unit, which improved its league standing by three spots in giving up just five power play goals for the month. Key players also stepped up to help the Hawks separate themselves from the rest of the pack both in division and throughout their conference:
Month of March
Patrick Kane: 10 goals, 12 assists
Artemi Panarin: 9 goals, 7 assists
As far as goaltending is concerned, Corey Crawford looks like he’s primed for another run at Lord Stanley’s Cup.
For the month of March, Corey posted a record of 8-3 with a 2.24 goals against average, .931 save percentage and 26 total goals allowed while backup Scott Darling posted a 3-0-2 record with a 3.02 goals against average, .898 save percentage and 14 total goals allowed.
Is there a goalie controversy? NO, but should Corey struggle come playoff time, Darling will be ready to go with more experience, unlike two years ago.
There’s only three games remaining on the schedule and all are on the road. If anything, fans should expect key players to rest with the games not having much meaning and with nothing to gain.
These games should give some opportunity to some young players who need ice time who could potentially be called upon come playoff time. The goal for this last week is to get out healthy and start preparing for your first round opponent.
To Patrick Kane for being named the NHL’s #3 Star for the month of March and for becoming the 21st American born player to reach 750 career points with three assists in last Friday’s win against Columbus AND for becoming the fourth Blackhawk in franchise history to mark at least 4 seasons in the 50+ assists club.
Denis Savard (9)
Stan Mikita (8)
Patrick Kane (4)
Jeremy Roenick (4)
Goals Against Average: 2.5 (9th in NHL)
Goals Per Game: 3.0 (7th in NHL)
Power Play Percentage: 18.3 (18th in NHL)
Penalty Kill Percentage: 77.7 (25th in NHL)
Points: Patrick Kane (87); Goals: Kane (34); Assists: Kane (53); Penalty Minutes: Ryan Hartman (70); Goals Against Average: Scott Darling (2.32)
The Road Ahead (Thru 4/8)
Tonight at Colorado Avalanche @ 8 pm
Thursday at Anaheim Ducks @ 9 pm
Saturday at Los Angeles Kings (Regular Season Finale) @ 5 pm
*All times central
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