Just as I wrote earlier, it is ridiculous to nitpick about this team. That being said, there are problems, albeit fixable that are present.
One of the most glaring deficiencies of this years team is the penalty kill. The Hawks currently sit 29th in the league killing off 71.8% of their penalties. It’s easy to point to the loss of Michael Frolik as the main reason why the PK is struggling. However, during Frolik’s tenure with the Hawks, they were ranked 25th, 27th, and 3rd on the penalty kill. It appears as if last year was an aberration to the norm for this team. In my opinion, the biggest problem with the Hawks penalty kill is not finding the right combinations, it’s clearing the front of the net. Most goals that have been scored while the Hawks are on the PK is because there is a large crowd in front of Crawford/Raanta preventing them from seeing the puck. The defenseman need to take more responsibility by making sure
Another major obstacle this team faces is getting consistent production from its third line. The ability to roll four lines is the Blackhawks most deadly weapon. Last year it was easy to count on some combination of Bickell/Shaw/Stalberg/Saad/Bolland to give opponents fits. This year, the Hawks have used multiple line combinations and have not found something that can stick. Part of this is due to injuries to Bryan Bickell and Andrew Shaw. The ideal third line makeup is Bickell/Shaw/Versteeg. Because of the injuries to the aforementioned two, we have not seen this line in action. The third line traditionally plays a checking role and all three players listed above are more than capable of being effective. When the Hawks have to play a third line of Morin/Nordstrom/Brookbank, there is a problem.
That being said the Hawks still sit atop the NHL with 45 points. The most important task ahead for this team is to shore up its penalty kill and clear the front of the net.
Tags: Chicago Blackhawks