The recent uninspired play of the Chicago Blackhawks has their fans concerned as the Blackhawks playoff chances are slipping away. The injury situation of starting goalie Corey Crawford has also become a distraction lately. However, the play of Patrick Kane has been the lone bright spot. While many fans of the team are wondering when Kane’s teammates will start playing at a high level again, there are only 36 games to go.
Chicago Blackhawks Playoff Chances Are Slipping Away
Playoffs? With this team?
Embarrassing. That’s the first thought after the Chicago Blackhawks played their last two games. Both of the games were at home, against beatable opponents. A week ago the Blackhawks lost 4-0 to the Detroit Red Wings and Saturday night they lost 7-3 to the New York Islanders. During the bye week between the two games, the players and coaches all talked about the immediate need to have good starts and better play. They preached about the necessity for tighter D and maximum effort. Unfortunately, after the last two games, the fans are unhappy watching the Chicago Blackhawks playoff chances slipping away.
It isn’t just that the Blackhawks are losing, it’s how they’re losing. Their goalies Anton Forsberg and Jeff Glass have been hung out to dry far too many times with poor defensive coverage. At times, the defense appears lost and tentative on where they should be or who they should cover. The majority of the goals given up are from in front of the net tap-ins or one-timers from 10-15 feet out by uncovered opponents. Over the last two games, the goaltenders have faced 72 shots. On the year, the Blackhawks are 6th worst in the NHL giving up almost 33 shots a game. That is far too many shots to give up, especially when your top goalie is on injured reserve.
Corey Crawford’s Status
Corey Crawford’s injured reserve status took a mysterious turn last week. After the Blackhawks had been silent on the injury, questions started to arise as to what was wrong. Rumors began to circulate as to what happened to Crawford with “sources” citing vertigo as the issue. Then during the week, Scotty Bowman alluded to the problem being concussion related. As of last Friday, the Blackhawks still remained mum on the injury and only say they expect him back before the end of the season. Check this out from Charlie Roumeliotis of NBC Sports Chicago:
“The good news is, Joel Quenneville remained confident that his star goaltender will return at some point this season. The bad news is, “we haven’t seen much progress” even though Quenneville reiterated “we expect him to be fine” in the long run.
The latter is relatively concerning given it’s been nearly a month since Crawford was last seen on the ice in a game setting or in any fashion, but it’s certainly a positive sign that the Blackhawks haven’t wavered on their expectation that he’ll return this season after reports surfaced over the week that there was growing concern he wouldn’t due to vertigo-like symptoms.”
As bizarre as the Crawford injury situation is, this team needs their top goalie back soon.
One Bright Spot
Patrick Kane continues to lead the Blackhawks in dramatic fashion night in and night out. With three points in the game against the Islanders, Kane notched his 800th point as a Blackhawk last Saturday. He became only the fifth player in franchise history to reach 800 points. Kane’s play has been the only consistent bright spot lately for the struggling team. Kane was also recently named to the NHL All-Star Team as the sole Blackhawk representative. For more on Kane the All-Star, enjoy this from Madeline Kenney from the Chicago Sun-Times:
“After sending a league-high four players to the NHL All-Star game last season, the Blackhawks will have only one player represent them this year.
The NHL revealed Wednesday that Patrick Kane was the lone Blackhawks representative named to the 2018 All-Star team.
The league’s announcement comes one day after Kane recorded his first-ever five-point game.”
Rough Road Ahead
The Blackhawks sit five points out of the last Western Conference Wild Card spot with 36 games to go. With 72 points available to them, the Blackhawks will need to get at least 40-45 of the available points to even get close to the wild card spot. It’s not impossible, but very unlikely if they keep playing the way they have been of late. This team has way too many passengers now and will need their leaders to lead if they’re going to succeed. The Blackhawks core need to step up and start earning their large contracts. Patrick Kane cannot carry this team alone, even though he’s trying really hard.
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