By Sidney Brown (@sidkid80)
Entering the home stretch of the regular season we haven’t seen the Chicago Blackhawks get a second wind, its been more like the Hawks have been gasping for air.
After a season-best stretch that saw the Hawks win 10 games in a stretch of 12, the Men in Red have lost four of the last five. At one point the Hawks were realistically flirting with the final wild card playoff spot in the Western Conference, now they are out in the cold, sitting eight points (27-30-9) out from that spot.
Inconsistent play from Chicago’s defense and consistently slow starts to begin games have been the main causes for this recent sputtering and for a once promising team revival now being on life support. The recent 1-3 road trip, along with Patrick Kane hitting a scoreless drought, couldn’t have come at a worst time as the playoff competition ahead of the Hawks keep winning.
California Road Trip Stats
- Goals Scored: 9
- Goals Allowed: 14
- Power Play: 1 for 9
- Power Play Goals Allowed: 2
Kane, along with the rest of the squad, struggled on the West Coast, but he carried the Hawks during the month of February with the continuation of his historic streak, but as the past couple weeks have showed, one man cannot make a non-playoff team a playoff team by himself.
With all that said, this MVP candidate has made Chicago more relevant than it should be in this season of transition. Kaner scoring, in fact, makes all the difference in the Hawks’ success this season. The team holds a 0-10-2 record when Kane fails to record a point and a 27-19-7 when Kane does record a point.
Elsewhere, the return of starting goalie Corey Crawford has produced mixed results at best, which could be expected given the fact that Crawford hasn’t seen action since December 16th. Much like Kane, the simple presence of Crawford alone can’t solve the long-lasting team problems of lack of consistent play from the defense and struggling with overall effort.
Most believe that the Hawks playoff chances are dead for 2019 at this point, but there’s actual promise and hope for next season. Competitive teams litter the rest of the March schedule including Vancouver, Colorado (2x), Dallas, San Jose and Arizona.
The Hawks’ young core will continue be tested in experiencing playoff-like hockey, hopefully these games will help the young core gain confidence so the fruits of their labor can pay off sooner rather than later.
*Patrick Kane gets much props on this week’s edition: first off, Kaner on Feb. 22 became the seventh player in NHL history to record multiple point streaks of 20-plus games. Kane joins an amazing group that includes Brett Hull, Guy Lafleur, Mario Lemieux, Adam Oates and Steve Yzerman of players who’ve done that twice. Only the great
Wayne Gretzky has done it more times than that, an incredible seven times.
*Back to Kane, who on Feb. 28 became the seventh player in Hawks history to post multiple 40-plus goal seasons. Bobby Hull has the record with eight, Steve Larmer follows with five and Jeremy Roenick with four while Al Secord, Denis Savard and Tony Amonte all have three. Kaner, with two, can stand to raise himself a couple more spots on that list at least before he’s done.
*Finally, Kane gets props for being named the NHL’s #2 Star for February. In 13 games played in the month he scored 11 goals and 12 assists.
*Props also go to Alex DeBrincat, who on Feb. 28 became only the fourth Hawks player in history to score 35 plus goals in a season before the age of 21. DeBrincat now has 36 goals this season, the best such season for a (legal) non-drinker on the Hawks since Roenick’s 41 in the 1990-91 season. Steve Parker has the record for a 20 year old or younger with 43 in ’82-83.
For more of my thoughts on the Hawks, catch me on CLTV’s SportsFeed this Sunday at 6 pm central. Check your local listings in the Chicago area.
- Goals: Patrick Kane (40)
- Assists: Patrick Kane (54)
- Points: Patrick Kane (94)
- Penalty Minutes: Duncan Keith (66)
- Goals Against Average: Corey Crawford (3.38)
- Goals Per Game: 3.34 (8th in NHL)
- Goals Against Per Game: 3.75 (30th in NHL)
- Power Play Percentage: 22.2 (10th in NHL)
The Road Ahead (Thru 3/30)
- Thursday vs. Buffalo Sabres — 7:30 pm
- Saturday at Dallas Stars — 7 pm
- Monday vs. Arizona Coyotes — 7:30 pm
- 3/13 at Toronto Maple Leafs — 6 pm
- 3/16 at Montreal Canadiens — 6 pm
- 3/18 vs. Vancouver Canucks — 7:30 pm
- 3/21 vs. Philadelphia Flyers — 7:30 pm
- 3/23 at Colorado Avalanche — 2 pm
- 3/24 vs. Colorado Avalanche — 7 pm
- 3/26 at Arizona Coyotes — 9 pm
- 3/28 at San Jose Sharks — 9:30 pm
- 3/30 at Los Angeles Kings — 9:30 pm
Sidney Brown covers the Chicago Blackhawks for WARR