With the Chicago Blackhawks‘ annual Circus Trip ending against the annoying Phoenix Coyotes, the two-week road trip is being evaluated by fans and pundits alike. While the Blackhawks went 6-1 on the road trip, there were definite concerns that have been voiced by one or more writers about the way the Blackhawks have been playing.
One cannot talk about the last two games without mentioning how the Blackhawks fell behind early. The Calgary Flames jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the second period against the Hawks, and then the Dallas Stars jumped out to a single-goal lead. Both times the Blackhawks were able to come from behind and win first in regulation, and then in a shoot-out.
But it can certainly be said that this team doesn’t know how to quit. After all, this is (mostly) the same team that took 17 seconds to stun the Boston Bruins in the Stanley Cup Final. In fact, it took goals by Andrew Shaw and Marcus Kruger in nine seconds to beat the Vancouver Canucks. Certainly there is a silver lining to this.
The Hawks were unable to overcome a deficit against the Colorado Avalanche and the only teams they truly beat this circus trip were the Winnipeg Jets and the Edmonton Oilers, neither of whom are exceptionally good.
Also, the goaltending has been up-and-down during the trip. Corey Crawford has given up six goals in the circus trip, and Antti Raanta gave up six as well.
Again, there is a silver lining here. Aside from the Colorado game, neither goalie has lost control, keeping the team in the game. Crawford’s shootout performance against the Stars speaks for itself. But speaking of defense, they’ve been a little shaky and have yet to record a clean sheet against any opponent this year. It’s possible that a line change or two might be coming for the defense.
Also, the Hawks had a total of 36 giveaways in the two games against the Flames and Stars. Head Coach Joel Quenneville will no doubt be looking at this stat in the coming days when the Hawks need to improve. He’ll also have to look at the power play, which has been silent for much of the trip.
The Hawks are currently in first place in the Western Conference and Central Division of the NHL. But there are still some weaknesses that will need to be addressed if they want to repeat as Stanley Cup champions. The advantage they have is that they are still relatively early in the season, and can still make the necessary adjustments while improving on their current strengths as the season rolls on.