• Jack P.

The Blackhawks offense might finally be coming alive, but too late

The Blackhawks offense has been lackluster for the most part of this season. The offense had high expectations coming into the season, highlighted by names like Patrick Kane, Alex Debrincat, and new defensemen Seth Jones. So now with the NHL season almost over, Blackhawks players, fans, and coaches ask themselves, what went wrong with offensive production?

The main problem was inconsistency with the scoring and high-danger chances. There would be games with absolutely no scoring chances generated whatsoever and games where the Hawks would put up five or six goals in regulation. Usually in the games where the offense was terrific, the power play was firing on all cylinders. The success early in the year on the power play came from the seam pass from one faceoff circle to the other from Kane to DeBrincat. Hawks fans have seen that play so many times this season and the chemistry between Kane and DeBrincat has been excellent in the past two seasons whether that is on the power play, five on five, or overtime. Together, Kane has put up 58 assists, mostly from DeBrincat's goals and DeBrincat has put up 39 goals, mostly because of Kane's assists, this season. Those two have been dynamite on the offensive end and are the main pieces to the offense as a whole.

So lets get into some other possible X-factors on the offensive end. Some notable forwards that have struggled this season have been Kirby Dach, Dominik Kubalik, Jonathan Toews, Tyler Johnson and Phillip Kurashev. We knew that heading into this season, all of these guys were going to be an important part to the teams success. The third year players, Dominik Kubalik and Kirby Dach both are known for their goal-scoring abilities, which has not been shown so far this season. Kubalik has been a great player for the past two years on the power play and playing on the second and third line while Dach was injured for the majority of last season which could have something to do with his production this year. Jonathan Toews and Tyler Johnson are both veteran guys and they are both solid two-way players with an offensive upside. Obviously, Toews is coming off of a season where he did not play a single game and he has been battling other injuries like concussions, but he's picked up the pace as of late for a total of 10 goals and 19 assists. Tyler Johnson recently had neck surgery after an awkward collision in the boards which resulted in him only playing in 17 games this year and has 1 goal and 2 assists in his first year with the team. Kurashev is only 22 and has shown that he does have potential. Last year he had 8 goals and he has 5 this year. Kurashev can be found mostly on the third and fourth line, going to those tough areas and scoring greasy goals. He still has a lot of time to prove himself at a very young age and will most likely be a part of the Blackhawk's future.

So what does the offense look like in years to come? With Kane likely signing a new contract once it expires at the end of next year, it looks like he will still be the face of the franchise. Even though Kane is now 33, he is still getting better by the numbers and producing offense at an all-time high and DeBrincat will probably be by his side for the rest of their Blackhawks careers. Then there are the young forwards such as Taylor Raddysh, Kirby Dach, Phillip Kurashev, Dylan Strome, Sam Lafferty, Dominik Kubalik, Boris Katchouk, and Mackenzie Entwistle who will all be an important part of the team's future for years to come. We can also see some of the aging forwards depart this offseason such as Jonathan Toews, Jujhar Kharia, and possibly Tyler Johnson. Even though it is hard to imagine Toews not retiring in a Blackhawk uniform, there is a chance that he could get traded in the offseason and while this is doubtful, his comments made it seem like he might want to go to a playoff contending team. Johnson and Kharia were both pickups in the offseason and they have not proven to be much help to a rebuilding franchise and the Hawks will likely move on from them.

On the defensive end, it looks like Seth Jones and Connor Murphy will lead the way for the coming years as well as the defensemen that are down in Rockford. Rockford has many young defensemen with great potential: Isaak Phillips, Wyatt Kalynuk, Ian Mitchell, Nicolas Beaudin, Alec Regula, and Jakub Galvas are all guys that have had NHL experience with the Blackhawks before and will be an important part to the blue line moving forward. Some notable forward prospects are Lukas Reichel, who was just called up and will be playing Thursday night, Mike Hardman, and Josiah Slavin. All of these guys are very young and can prove to be a positive addition on the offensive end.

The Blackhawks are now mathematically eliminated from playoff contention after Nashville won on Tuesday night so the rest of the season will now be about getting some younger guys a chance to get some more NHL playing time such as Lukas Reichel who will play Thursday night against the Kraken. He was on a line with Toews and Kubalik at practice today.

In other Hawks news Chris Vosters will be taking the spot of Pat Foley after his last call in the broadcasting booth. Congratulations to him and he will be great for the franchise for years to come! Eddie Olczyk will be staying on as the color analyst. Also a huge congratulations to Jonathan Toews as he played his 1000th game against the Florida Panthers! The Blackhawks celebrated at home a few nights later by inviting all of his former alternate captains back to the United Center for the celebration. It was a great sight to see on a great night.

Hopefully the Blackhawks finish the season strong and go Hawks!

-Jack P. (IG: @jackpolkow / Twitter: @polkowjack)

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