Chicago Blackhawks: Good and bad of the win streak

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images /

After losing five straight games, the Chicago Blackhawks have responded with a season-high four-game winning streak. As they get set to welcome in the Minnesota Wild tonight, let’s look at the good and bad of the suddenly surging Blackhawks.

The Good

Corey Crawford

As has been the case the entire season, Corey Crawford continues to be the Blackhawks MVP. After missing three games to a lower-body injury, Crawford returned Dec. 8 against the Sabres and picked up right where he left off.

Aside from the 5-1 Winnipeg win, the Hawks netminder has only played with more than a one-goal lead for three minutes during the streak. In his last three games, the two-time Stanley Cup winner’s save percentage has not been below 95 percent.

Finding ways to win

It hasn’t been easy, but the Hawks are finding ways to win. Look no further from the streak starting win against the Sabres. With just over three minutes left and down a man, Tommy Wingels scored to send the game into overtime. Four nights later against Florida, Jonathan Toews ties the game with just over six minutes left in regulation.

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Although they have not played their best hockey, the Hawks are coming up big late in games. While there’s a long way to go, these experiences can prove to be huge come playoff time.

The Bad

Playing a full 60 minutes

When is the last time the Chicago Blackhawks have played a full 60-minute game? It certainly wasn’t during the first three games of this win streak. The closest they have come is the most recent win against the Jets.

After two periods it seemed like we would see it, but a poor showing in the last ten minutes has Joel Quenneville still looking for more. It’s hard to get excited over wins over the bottom feeders of the NHL, but a complete game win against a division rival may just be what this team needs to truly get going.

The Power Play

The Blackhawks are great at forcing penalties. In fact, they are tops in the NHL with 128 power-play opportunities. It’s what they do with them that is not so great. Only Buffalo (12.9) and Columbus (10.1) have a worse power play percentage than the Hawks (14.8). Alex DeBrincat has the lone power play goal in the last four games. With the Hawks unable to fix their entries and get shots through from the point, this may not change anytime soon.

Next: Chicago Blackhawks: Time to stop (temporarily) with the outdoor games

What’s Next

It’s a battle for wild card positioning at the United Center on Sunday night. The Minnesota Wild are percentage points behind the Chicago Blackhawks for the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference. The two teams have split the season series winning one game apiece.