As winter comes about in Chicagoland, Chicagoans head inside to watch the hottest team on ice, the Chicago Blackhawks. Unfortunately, it seems as if the Hawks are about as cold as the -15 degree temps. Actually, it’s more like a 40-degree temperature–cold, but nowhere near freezing. They’ve lost three of the last five games, albeit one of them in overtime and two in shootouts. But this belies the problem the Hawks have: They’re struggling. And no, much like this past article, this article IS NOT PANICKING.
Even though they’ve collected points in each of their last 10 games, the Hawks have, as previously mentioned, lost three out of their last five games. And these are not throwaway games! They lost to their Central Division rival St. Louis Blues and Pacific Division contender San Jose Sharks. The other loss was a surprise against the New York Islanders. While the Hawks can certainly rebound, it’s best to fix their problems.
The problems start with the offense. Patrick Kane has yet to score a goal in the 2014 calendar year, and he’s been shuffled among different lines. He’s been seen with Kris Versteeg and Michal Handzus and appeared alongside Jonathan Toews, who is also struggling. Bryan Bickell had to sit for much of the third period against the Sharks. The Hawks are supposed to be one of the top offensive teams in the NHL, but the fact that they’ve been stifled against the Islanders, Sharks and Los Angeles Kings is concerning (although the Kings do have the best defensive unit in the league, so it’s not much of a surprise). And we’ve already gone over the shootout woes in this article.
And speaking of the defense, there’s been a lot of blown coverage. The defense has given up a lot of easy goals that have cost them against the Blues, Islanders and Sharks. While I prefer the defensive pairings as they currently are, perhaps some changes or better coaching could be in the cards. But the goaltending has been a bright spot. Antti Raanta notched a shutout against the Kings and Corey Crawford has still been clutch ever since his return.
As always, there are silver linings. It’s still only the halfway point of the season. This could simply be a bump in the road, much like the last three-game losing streak. It’s a long season, after all. Any top team can have difficulty. But if the Blackhawks do not fix these issues, it could cost them down the stretch. And while fans and pundits might complain a little too much (guilty as charged), the fact of the matter is they want the team to win. Better start soon!