Chicago, Il – As improbable as it may seem the Blackhawks problems this year can be boiled down to a lack of goal scoring production. Yes there have been too many mistakes and giveaways in their own zone but all of that is rectified if more goals are scored. You can recover from mistakes if you can score.
The Hawks or any team can not be expected to never make mistakes or give us scoring chances so the only way to overcome those mistakes because there will be some is to be able to score yourself and cash in on the other teams mistakes. So far this year that is not happening particularly in the middle period.
It is no surprise that the players with the best shooting percentage on this team are Jonathan Toews, Kris Versteeg and Andrew Shaw. What do all three of these players have in common? They park themselves around and in front of the net which is how you have to score now a days. You have to get in front of goalies to either screen or deflect shots once the Hawks do this consistently everything else will open up.
Also be less predictable. Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa and others are having problems scoring because the opposition knows what your going to do before you do it. So you need to do something else. For example not to pick on Brandon Saad but every time he has the puck and powers up the boards with speed even I know he will go behind the net and swing out the other side. Try changing that and cutting to the slot or go right to the goalie.
The Hawks are not scoring because teams are not giving them any room, they need to gain separation and move more without the puck to open up lanes. Try shooting quicker before defense can get set and the passing needs to be crisper.
The Hawks are not a big team so to gain separation you can’t muscle your way there you will have to either use your speed or find open areas of the ice which will mean the attackers need to go up in unison, one is bound to find soft ice spots.
Try chipping and chasing but in mass you’re bound to come out sometimes with control of the puck. Once that happens it gives you scoring chances and an opportunity for everyone to crash the net. Don’t always only send one to the net send all your forwards that’s the only way there is going to be confusion and someone maybe open.
The Hawks also need to clean up that second period they are the worse in the league in scoring. It is the period of the long ice change so shorten your shifts and focus on playing an entire sixty minutes. There are no periods or shifts off I’m afraid this year not if you want to win games. With the lack of goals if you get down after two periods it is becoming almost impossible to make up the goal differential.
The second unit power play has to change. The Hawks also lead the league in short handed give away goals. Brad Richards and Brent Seabrook should not be on the point together. I think both of them would admit foot speed is not their forte so they should never be the last line of defense together. When Patrick Sharp gets back Sharp should be with Seabrook and Richards with Keith. That’s my take on fixing that fiasco.
The good news is the Hawks are doing very well with the penalty kill, face-offs and goals against which is important to the overall team defense. Technically just tie down consistently getting net front presence, improve on second period scoring and staying focused for the entire game and everything should improve.
Mentally though the Hawks have looked like they lack fire and hunger or maybe they are pressing too much. Have fun remember you do know how to do this, just last year the Hawks were one of the best offensive teams in the NHL. Just get to the net and play for each other things will start bouncing your way.