By Sidney Brown (@sidkid80)
What can we take away from the month of December for the Chicago Blackhawks?
Well, despite losing five of their first seven games last month, the Hawks managed to finish the month strong with a 8-7-1 mark.
Patrick Kane used the run to prove that he’s still a top candidate for MVP, leading the team in points with 18 for the month. “Captain Serious” Jonathan Toews got his scoring groove back as well, finishing two points behind Kane (16).
Furthermore, Alex DeBrincat (5 goals, 5 assists) and Dylan Strome (4G, 8A) continued to prove themselves to be additional scoring threats behind Toews and Kane. In net, Robin Lehner took charge and set the tone for the shared goaltender responsibility (7-1-1 Record, 2.90 Goals Against, .923 save percentage).
Looking at the less encouraging side, Corey Crawford’s struggles continue in net, he struggled with a 1-5 record along with a 3.78 GAA and a .889 SV% in December.
Team defense fell face down on the ice once again for extended periods, giving up a total of 51 goals while the team only scored 44. Season ending injuries to defensemen Calvin De Haan (shoulder) and Brent Seabrook (hip and shoulder) added injury to the insulting play.
Andrew Shaw and Brandon Saad also have been recently placed on injured reserve, thinning the ranks of experienced talent. When you look at it, it’s a miracle that Chicago is currently a game above .500 (19-18-6) with a snowball’s chance at a wild card spot in the Western Conference. Its enough to ask honestly, what can you expect from the Hawks leading to this month’s all-star break?
With the absence of De Haan and Seabrook on defense, newcomers Adam Boqvist and Dennis Gilbert will have to take advantage of an increase in quality minutes — can each youngster make the meaningful added experience work to help them turn the team defense around?
On the veteran side, Crawford’s likelihood of retaining his starting spot in net is another development to look for, especially with Lehner looking better as of late. Also, how long can Kane carry the Hawks on his back? Can Toews lighten the load with another successful month?
Reasons for encouragement arise with the news that Chicago has scored 5 goals in four of their last seven games and are currently 4-1 in their last five games. After an extended run at the United Center, the first half of the season ends with three of the Hawks’ last five games on the road. Now’s the time to put up or shut up for a team that needs to make a stand if it wants to stay a playoff contender.
Patrick Kane gets big props this week on two fronts: first, for scoring his 377th career goal in a 5-3 victory at Calgary on New Year’s Eve, placing him fourth on the franchise all-time list in goal scoring.
- Bobby Hull (604)
- Stan Mikita (541)
- Steve Larmer (406)
- Patrick Kane (377)
- Denis Savard (377)
Kane also made history by finishing the 2010s with more points than any NHL player for the decade.
- Patrick Kane (802)
- Sidney Crosby (788)
- Alex Ovechkin (781)
- Claude Giroux (736)
- Steven Stamkos (719)
Points: Patrick Kane (54)
Goals: Patrick Kane (24)
Assists: Patrick Kane (30)
Penalty Minutes: Dennis Gilbert (38)
Goals Against Average: Robin Lehner (2.92)
Sidney Brown covers the Chicago Blackhawks for WARR