The Chicago Blackhawks have recently been riding a jet line stream of success out on the ice. They are currently atop the Western Conference standings, putting them a mere one point above the Anaheim Ducks.
This is great news for the Blackhawks, who have proven to be an offensively lethal weapon to their opponents throughout the season. However, if the Blackhawks want to remain No. 1 before the Olympic break, there are a few aspects of the game they need to maintain and improve.
First of all, the Hawks need to remain a dominant force in puck possession. The more they keep a hold of the puck, the more scoring opportunities arise. Chicago has been brilliant as of late (and in general) when it comes to shots on goal. This needs to remain a dominant aspect of their game.
As everyone in the hockey world knows, the Blackhawks have had trouble with their penalty kill situation this season. In the earlier moments of the season, the Hawks ranked dead last in the entire NHL in penalty kills. Currently ranked 28th in penalty kill efficiency, the team knows that they are not where they want or need to be.
However, the Hawks’ power play is on an upward trajectory, with the Hawks connecting on 24.3 percent of their man-advantage situations. This rank puts them third in the league. While, on paper, the penalty kill situation seems like a death sentence, the offensive ability harbored by the Chicago Blackhawks eliminates any concern on a few allowed power play goals. When you are putting points up on the board to the tune of 5-7 goals a game, it makes sense that the penalty kill is the least of your concerns.
Despite this, it is an area the Hawks will need to be aware of and continue to improve, because this could be a crack in the system for other teams to exploit. The Chicago organization is on the brink of 21 games over a 43-day period before the start of the winter games. The Hawks have faced this type of pressure before, what with the lockout forcing a very jam-packed schedule last season.
But, this time will be a true test for the Blackhawks, who will be facing a stacked Western Conference, filled with skill, size and speed. While these next few weeks will be trying, if the Hawks can come out on top, it will be a true testament to their greatness this season.