By Sidney Brown (@sidkid80)
The Chicago Blackhawks were certainly not considered among the top Stanley Cup contenders coming into the 2019-20 campaign, but they were not a team without expectations.
This was a team that exactly a year ago was saying goodbye to legendary coach Joel Quenneville after a disastrous start to the ’18-19 season. By the spring, the once-directionless club felt downright focused after finishing only six points out of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
October hockey is a feeling out period for every team, and the Hawks figure no different as far as that’s concerned, considering head coach Jeremy Colliton is entering his first full season on the bench. The 3-6-2 start that resulted have many fans and critics turning their heads and they’re many reasons why.
First, the team defense is struggling once again out of the gate, giving up 34 goals overall, including 8 on the power play. Next, there’s been a struggle to score goals on a consistent basis (2.27 goals per game) despite tallying 34 for the month of October. Lastly, the power play operations have suffered a power outage, scoring just three goals (08.8 power play percentage) thru 11 games.
Despite a bad start by “Captain Serious” Jonathan Toews (1 goal, 1 assist), other veterans have stepped up to try to keep the Men in red afloat.
Patrick Kane: 3G, 6A
Alex DeBrincat: 3G, 4A
Dylan Strome: 3G, 4A
Andrew Shaw: 2G, A
Brandon Saad: 3G, 2A
New faces have made their mark contributing on all four lines bringing energy and youthful skill. Although it’s early, hope maybe on the horizon with the hopes of a turnaround.
Kirby Dach: G, A (six Games Played)
Alex Nylander: 2G, 3A
Drake Caggiula: 3G
Dominik Kubalik: 2G, 2A
Ryan Carpenter: 4A
Team defense is still a work in progress and despite the benching of veteran Brent Seabrook the last two games along with the age of Duncan Keith, there’s potential with the young blue liners which includes Slater Koekkoek, Dennis Gilbert along with newcomers Calvin de Haan and Olli Maatta. This group must improve their play limiting turnovers, better puck control coming out their own zone and not giving up multiple odd man rushes.
Without solid goaltending, you have no shot in winning on a consistent basis. Corey Crawford doesn’t deserve all the blame for the Hawks struggles, but his numbers thus far does not flash confidence in net. Off-season pickup Robin Lehner has been consistent enough in net thus giving head coach Jeremy Colliton perhaps the green light in riding the hot hand until further notice.
Corey Crawford: 1-4 Record, .888 SV %, 3.67 GAA, 18 Goals Allowed
Robin Lehner: 2-2-2 Record, .936 SV %, 2.29 GAA, 14 Goals Allowed
Is there hope on the horizon for the Hawks? The month of November will be very challenging with the conclusion of a four game road trip to start the month. The rest of the road schedule will include San Jose, Las Vegas Golden Knights and division rivals Dallas, Nashville and Colorado.
The home portion of the schedule will feature Canadian teams Vancouver and Toronto along with Eastern Conference powerhouse Tampa Bay and division rivals Colorado and Dallas. Will the young core take another step? How long does Lehner stay in net? Will Toews start scoring? And will coach Colliton stay consistent with the best line combinations?
Points: Patrick Kane (9)
Goals: Patrick Kane (3)
Assists: Patrick Kane (6)
Penalty Minutes: Andrew Shaw (14)
Goals Against Average: Robin Lehner (2.29)
Goals Per Game: 2.27 (30th in NHL)
Goals Against: 3.00 (15th in NHL)
Power Play Percentage: 08.8 (29th in NHL)
Sidney Brown covers the Chicago Blackhawks for WARR