Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford continued his outstanding play in net over the past week, posting two shutout wins against the Philadelphia Flyers and Minnesota Wild. Unfortunately, the Blackhawks offensive struggles returned last night, leading to a 2-0 loss to the Montreal Canadiens. The recent lack of offense and power play struggles are a disturbing trend for the talented Hawks.
Chicago Blackhawks Corey Crawford continues outstanding play.
Corey Crawford has played extremely well all season. He leads the NHL in both goals-against average at 1.77 and save-percentage at .945. He is also tied for the league lead with two shutouts. Crawford’s outstanding play has kept the Blackhawks in many games, and he has had several “goalie wins” this season in spite of the play in front of him.
Crawford is also near the top in another disturbing category, shots against. In the 13 games he has played, he has faced 400 shots on goal. Despite Crawford facing over 30 shots a game, he has been at or near the top in goals against all season. No other goalie in the NHL who has faced 400 shots or more has a goals-against average under 2. The closest is Mike Smith of the Calgary Flames at 2.32. If the Blackhawks expect to succeed this season, they have got to improve on the shots against. One way would be to get back to their standard puck possession game, which is currently struggling.
Power Play Problems
A routine topic when discussing the Blackhawks is: What’s wrong with the Power Play? The Hawks have floundered all year with the man advantage. They are currently 28th in the NHL with a 13.6% success rate. In their two wins this past week, the Hawks managed to score a power-play goal in each game. Both power play goals were scored by Artem Anisimov, and thanks to Crawford’s two shutouts they turned out to be game winners. Anisimov was providing the much needed net-front presence when he scored the two goals. Net front presence is something that has been lacking for the Hawks power play this season. Unfortunately for the Hawks, the power play failed them against the Canadiens last night. It’s assured they’ll be practicing the power play between now and their next game Thursday.
Penalty Kill Success
The Blackhawks penalty kill is currently sixth in the NHL at an 84.7 percent success rate. The Hawks are twelfth in the NHL with 147 penalty minutes taken. To be successful going forward, the Blackhawks will need to reduce the penalties they’re taking each game. Especially team captain Jonathan Toews, who is second on the Hawks with 14 penalty minutes this season. Toews is a major part of both the penalty kill and power-play units, and averages just over 20 minutes of ice time a game.
The Blackhawks are currently on the outside looking in on the playoffs. They are 11th in the Western Conference, tied with five other teams with 16 points. Their record of 7-6-2 needs to improve in a hurry if they expect to make the playoffs again this season. After yesterday’s loss to the Habs, they have seven straight games in a row against the Eastern Conference. The next three weeks could make or break their season if they continue their inconsistent play.
Main Photo: CHICAGO, IL – JANUARY 05: Corey Crawford #50 of the Chicago Blackhawks makes a save against the Buffalo Sabres at the United Center on January 5, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)