What the Blackhawks have to do to get in the playoff race
Time is ticking and the Chicago Blackhawks have still not had the courage in them to make a push for the playoffs. This team is very capable of doing so with plenty of veterans and young guys that understand the game. Jonathan Toews has stepped it up as of late, netting three goals in his last five games. If we're being honest here, Toews is one of the biggest parts of the teams success. He has the veteran presence and leadership to make the young guys around him better and Patrick Kane and Alex Debrincat have obviously been huge for the offense's production. The real question is when is this team going to pick up the pace and make a push for the playoffs?
When it comes to points statistics, Patrick Kane takes the lead for the team. Most of those points are from Alex Debrincat goals, who seems to be on the score sheet on a nightly-basis now. Seth Jones is leading the team in assists, has been a very big part of the offense and though he's received a lot of criticism for his bad contract in the offseason, he's been a great fit for the defensive core. And of course, leading the team in goals is Alex Debrincat with six goals on the power play and seventeen on the year. He has proven to be one of the best goal scorers in the league and continues to be great for the Blackhawks. Marc-Andre Fleury has been very good in his latest starts and it's felt like he is going to stop every puck that comes his way when he is locked in. Fleury said that he and Kevin Lankinen have developed a good relationship which can be great for Lankinen, who has struggled this season, but having Fleury there to back him up is huge. Fleury is in Covid protocols as of right now, but he hopes to be out soon. Another big part of the team are goal scorers like Kirby Dach and Dominik Kubalik. Dach has five goals and eight assists on the year and it might be time he breaks out and goes on a tear. Kubalik has six goals and six assists so far and has really been one of the more underrated goal scorers in the league the past two years. Kubalik was a Calder trophy finalist in his rookie season in 2019-2020 and led all rookies in goals. Dach and Kubalik are going to be big contributors moving into the last months of the NHL season.
When it comes to the team as a whole, there have been questions around whether the Blackhawks should sell their pieces at the trade deadline or not. There have been trade rumors floating around about players like Kubalik, Carpenter, and Fleury. There have been rumors about Kane and what his long-term plans might be with the team. While it is very likely Kane stays for a while, never say never. The Chicago Blackhawks have been scoring 2.30 goals per game which ranks 30th in the whole league and the power play is producing at about 18.8 percent which has been the strong point because of the shortage of 5 on 5 scoring. The defense has been allowing 3.23 goals per game, which ranks 23rd in the league, while the penalty kill has taken a huge step down at 76.7 percent and has been hurting the team in the past month. The roster has pretty much stayed the same with some line switching here and there. Jujhar Khaira has been on the ice for practice in the last couple of days which is great news after he went down with a concussion in the game against the Rangers. Tyler Johnson was also skating at practice. Johnson was given a three month time table to return in early December but it seems like he is improving very well.
The Blackhawks next game is on Saturday as they try to kick off the new year with a win. The month of January is going to be huge in terms of how the rest of the season plays out. The Hawks will battle against the Nashville Predators who have been on a tear recently. Tuesday's and Wednesday's games were postponed due to Covid. The Blackhawks are 4-4-2 in their last ten games and will need a much better month to get back into playoff talks.
-Jack P. (IG: @jackpolkow / Twitter: @polkowjack)