The Chicago Blackhawks have gone 4-1-3 this month and currently sit nine points behind the Central Division leading Nashville Predators and five points ahead of the wild card leading Winnipeg Jets. They aren’t necessarily in a bad spot, but it’s unusual to see the ‘Hawks lose three games on home ice over the course of nine days as they indeed have done in February.
With a shutout loss on the road to the Minnesota Wild to begin the month preluding back-to-back extra time losses a few days following, the ‘Hawks have had some bad mojo floating around their team right now. For Chicago, losing to teams like the Arizona Coyotes via shootout on home ice is almost unheard of, especially this time of the year.
The Blackhawks can’t really slow down the Predators at the moment; nobody can. They have gone 3-1-0 against Nashville this season and have gone 2-1-0 against the St. Louis Blues. So, they’ve done their part against the power houses in the Central. Their biggest problem has been against the Pacific, as they have gone 8-5-3 against the division; that includes a 0-1-1 record against the Vancouver Canucks and a 1-1-0 record against the Edmonton Oilers. It’s easy to see that the ‘Hawks do indeed have a flaw, but here’s a secret:
It doesn’t really matter.
The ‘Hawks still have those guys that go by the names of Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa, Patrick Sharp and Duncan Keith. Those fellows did indeed win Stanley Cups in 2010 and 2013 and they’re doing things right again this year despite not dominating the Central.
Kane leads the league in points with 63 (27G, 36A), Toews is on pace for a 65-point season, Hossa has been dominant over the past few games and Corey Crawford has been solid between the pipes despite the questionable record Chicago has posted this month.
Chicago also ranks in the top ten of the league in three very important categories; goals per game (8th), goals against on average(3rd), penalty kill percentage (1st), power play percentage (14th). No other team in the Central Division ranks in the top fifteen in all three of those categories.
The ‘Hawks also love putting pucks on net as they rank first in the NHL with nearly 35 shots per contest, leading in that category by a shot per night over the New York Islanders. Of the top 16 teams in that category, 11 currently hold a playoff spot.
It may be hard to not see the Blackhawks being a top two team in the division, but Chicago is doing just about everything right. They’ve been playing fantastic hockey for most of the season and we all know if this team catches fire late in the season there is absolutely no team in North America that wants to see this team in the post season.
If the playoffs started today it would be St. Louis taking on Chicago. St. Louis may hold the edge in the standings, but who in the world would bet against the ‘Hawks against the Blues regardless of home-ice advantage. Don’t count out the ‘Hawks; they may not be the glamorous division dominator we’ve seen in the past, but this team is sitting in a very good spot.