With the 2014-15 NHL season set to begin soon, it’s time to lay out what we should be expecting from individual Chicago Blackhawks players this year. Today we’ll take a look at Bryan Bickell and Corey Crawford.
The narrative among Blackhawks fans is that Bickell had a terrible 2013-14, but that’s really a misnomer. Bickell wasn’t terrible so much as he was simply unlucky, with an eye-poppingly low PDO and a rash of knee injuries slowing him down. The burly winger’s only genuine statistical decline came in his assists per 60 minutes, which says more about his teammates’ finishing ability than anything else.
By all accounts, Bickell is finally healthy. He is likely aware that another unproductive regular season all but guarantees his departure from Chicago in the impending 2015 cap-related fire sale. Motivation won’t be a problem, so expect a solid campaign from Bickell assuming he gets the opportunity. A 20-20 season (or thereabouts) isn’t out of the question
Crawford, permanent king of the phrase “he doesn’t get enough respect,” is fresh off a fantastic playoff run that was somewhat spoiled by a weak performance in the Western Conference Final against the Los Angeles Kings. The offseason should have done him quite a bit of good; after Antti Raanta‘s game dipped, Crawford ended up playing almost the entire second half of 2013-14.
Chicago’s defense should be much improved, which will help immeasurably. Blackhawks forwards and defensemen were consistently unfocused and sloppy last season after being excellent in their own zone the year prior. Assuming health, Crawford should rank in the top 12 in save percentage and the top 5 in wins among league goaltenders.