After a weekend that saw the Chicago Blackhawks lose two games in embarrassing fashion, the team will look to pick up the pieces in a home-and-home series against the Florida Panthers.
Before they take the ice however, we decided it was time to take stock of where they find themselves at this point in the season. To do so, we’ve busted out one of our favorite tools (read: editorial devices): the Blackhawks Panic Meter.
The Blackhawks’ offense looked particularly bad this weekend as Joel Quenneville experimented with a slew of different line combinations, but they’ve been struggling for longer than that. Over their past 11 games, they’ve scored three or more goals just three times, and they’ve been held to one goal or less on four times in that span.
Despite those struggles to score, we’re not quite ready to go into panic mode on the offensive side of things. The team is still leading the league in shots per game, racking up 34.8 of them per contest, but their shooting percentage of 8.23 percent is 25th in the NHL.
The quality of shots has to improve for Chicago, but it’s still a matter of some luck that they aren’t scoring more often.
If you want an area to panic about, this is it. The Blackhawks have long prided themselves on being a team that suppresses shots and makes the ones that do get through low percentage, easily savable ones, and neither of those strategies seems to be working right now. The Hawks are allowing 29.6 shots per game so far this season, which puts them in 17th place in the NHL in the category.
Add to that the continued struggles of some of the team’s veterans, including Johnny Oduya and Michal Rozsival, and it’s not hard to see why the Hawks are giving up as many goals as they are due to poor execution on the blue line.
Once again, this area has a few select concerns, but overall isn’t as big a problem as some are claiming. Corey Crawford had a rough weekend for the Hawks as he gave up eight goals in two games, but with the types of defensive breakdowns that are happening in front of him, it frankly wasn’t surprising that he had those kinds of stat-sapping efforts in crease.
If Hawks fans have to worry about anything with their goaltenders, it’s whether or not Crawford is getting an appropriate amount of rest. He has been allowing some soft goals lately, but he’s still been one of the main reasons this team’s struggles haven’t resulted in more lost points in the standings. Getting him a game or two off every so often, especially with the playoffs coming up in April, would be a smart move by the Hawks to keep their $6 million man fresh.
The Blackhawks are at a crossroads right now. It isn’t time for full blown panic, but the team has gotten past the “it’s just one game” point and are now at the “this is a legitimate problem” point. Their defensive struggles continue to get worse, and even though Trevor van Riemsdyk is drawing ever closer to returning to their lineup, just inserting him back onto the blue line isn’t going to be enough.
This team needs a shot in the arm. This team needs something to kick start them. What that something is can be debated endlessly, but whether by trade or by roster move, the Blackhawks need a direction change, but not a full-blown tear down.