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The Puck Stops Here

Hawks Slumping

The Chicago Blackhawks were in first place in the NHL as recently as mid-November.  They are a team with a good young core built around Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith, Patrick Kane and Brent Seabrook.  They also have talented older players in Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp.  This is a team that won the Stanley Cup as recently as 2009 and a team that could win with a few lucky bounces this year.  They have a problem with their goaltending which could potentially be solved at the trade deadline or if an existing goalie gets hot (Corey Crawford having a strong playoff is more plausible than Michael Leighton getting hot for a playoff run and that happened in 2009).

The problem is Chicago has not won any of their last nine games.  Their highest offensive output in any game during the slump is four goals against Edmonton (they allowed eight goals).  They have allowed at least three goals in each of the games.

These things happen sometimes.  Teams have unlikely streaks and slumps.  Good streaks can have a positive impact on the future for teams and slumps can lead to further problems.  Lots of hockey is psychological and this weighs in on team’s psyches. 

It is only February and more likely than not these things will be long forgotten by playoff time.  Chicago is likely to be a lower seed playoff team in the West Conference.  They will give a tough first round series to a top seed.  It may be the hardest fought first round series. 

Nine game losing streaks are bad.  They shouldn’t happen to playoff teams but Chicago is mired in one right now.  It is a good thing to get this out of the way now and be fully recovered by playoff time.  There is no reason to be seriously worried at this point.

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Comments

NickLidstrom's avatar

Is there any way you could use sabremetrics and all that good stuff to try and explain Henrik Zetterberg’s lack of production (for his standards) this season?

Posted by NickLidstrom from a Higher Ground on 02/15/12 at 11:56 PM ET

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I am unclear how a trade deadline deal will save their goal tender issue. What improvement do you see them getting for a bag of pucks or picks? Nobody is going to give the Hawks a legitimate goal tender for anything less than at least one good roster player.

Posted by paulklos on 02/16/12 at 02:02 PM ET

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sorry a little more…

When is mid November recent to mid February? Even your own take at the time was

“This is not an overwhelming first place record but it is good enough for now”

In other words you did not then seem to feel there first place status was very impressive and now in free fall vs 3 teams that are all playing well in their division?

Posted by paulklos on 02/16/12 at 02:06 PM ET

statelouis26's avatar

First, I don’t understand why the hawks didn’t put in a waiver claim for Nittymaki.  He might be worth a short.  Remember how well he performed in TB?  Bad blood w/ the sharks and niemi?

Second, the hawks lost two blueliners and their depth is not great on defense.  Problem is the hawks have not adjusted their game plan accordingly.  You draft strategy around what you have.  Full speed ahead offense and screw defense should be the mentality.  You gotta outshoot/outscore to win until you get Haji and Montador back.

Posted by statelouis26 from Detroit, MI on 02/16/12 at 11:28 PM ET

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NickLidstrom: this season he has 9 power play points in 59 games, last season he had 30 in 80 (so this year he’s ~13 points behind last year’s pace). Last season he had 6.6 points per 60 mins of 5on4 ice time, this year he’s at 2.7. Not sure I can explain why. Maybe teams are trying to take him away, like they try to take away Ovechkin and Stamkos.

Second, I think Tomas Vokoun could be had for something like a 1st + middling NHL prospect or a C prospect who’s close to top-6 ready.

Posted by Ralph on 02/18/12 at 02:53 PM ET

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imageThe Puck Stops Here was founded during the 2004/05 lockout as a place to rant about hockey. The original site contains over 1000 posts, some of which were also published on FoxSports.com.

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