Sidney Brown writes on the Blackhawks and the NHL for WARR, look for his weekly dispatches from the front lines of hockey fandom
Losers of four of their last five games to close out December — including a 1-3-1 mark on their five-game road trip, bringing their record overall to 18-14-6 — many wonder when will the Chicago Blackhawks turn the corner?
As 2018 arrives, there could be hope on the horizon with the Hawks’ schedule, but with injuries to Artem Anisimov and starting goalie Corey Crawford (again) surfacing the challenge to become a consistent winner just got a little bit tougher. Yes, a 6-3-1 record in their last ten games looks good on paper, but a 8-9-4 road record, a 4-6-2 record versus the Central division and an 8-9-4 mark against the Western Conference should be major concerns if you’re a Hawks fan.
A power play unit ranked third from the bottom in the League and the penalty kill unit have each taken a little bit of a dip as well. Both must turn around immediately. All season Chicago’s veteran stars have been inconsistent in terms of scoring, but as we head into the new year, recent performances from key veterans have given the Men in Red hope in moving into playoff contention.
Last Five Games:
Patrick Kane: 2 goals, 2 assists
Jonathan Toews: G,A
Nick Schmaltz: G,3A
Alex DeBrincat: G,A
Brandon Saad: G,A
Ryan Hartman: 2G
A Look Ahead To January
With the calendar reaching the middle of the regular season, the schedule favors the Hawks for the month with eight home games slated, including six straight featuring Edmonton, Las Vegas, Detroit, Tampa Bay, Toronto and division rival Minnesota. A light road schedule includes four games which features the likes of the New York Rangers, who cap off the current holiday road trip tonight, along with Detroit, Ottawa and division rival Nashville.
The opportunity is there for Chicago to make a move and climb up the standings towards a playoff spot. With a 10-5-2 mark at the United Center for the season, the home schedule provides an opportunity to pick up games. The road record must improve but the team is only 1 game under .500 away from the United Center, getting at least to that mark could cause more encouragement for the team.
Of course, Crawford — clearly the team’s MVP — must be healthy some time soon or else all hope will be lost come season’s end.
*To goalie Jeff Glass for collecting 45 saves in his debut in Friday’s 4-3 win at Edmonton, making himself the first Hawks goaltender to stop 40-plus shots in his debut since Ed Belfour on Oct. 18, 1988 at Detroit.
*To Patrick Kane for netting home career goal #300 on December 23rd in a 4-1 loss at New Jersey. Kaner is approaching a series of milestones ahead that will help further cement his place as a future Hockey Hall of Famer.
Hawks Milestone Watch
Patrick Kane: 11 assists away from 500; 10 points away from 800
Brent Seabrook: 39 games away from 1,000
Points: Patrick Kane (38)
Goals: Patrick Kane (16)
Assists: Patrick Kane (22)
Penalty Minutes: John Hayden (38)
Goals Against Average: Corey Crawford (2.27)
Goals Per Game: 2.9 (13th in NHL)
Goals Against: 2.8 (9th in NHL)
Penalty Kill Percentage: 80.8 (18th in NHL)
Power Play Percentage: 15 (29th in NHL)
The Road Ahead (thru 1/14)
Tonight at New York Rangers @ 7 pm
Friday vs. Las Vegas Golden Knights @ 7:30 pm
Sunday vs. Edmonton Oilers @ 2 pm
1/9 at Ottawa Senators @ 6:30 pm
1/10 vs. Minnesota Wild @ 7 pm 1/12 vs. Winnipeg Jets @ 7:30 pm 1/14 vs. Detroit Red Wings @ 6 pm
*All times central
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