Chicago Blackhawks: Defensemen Decisions Determining Success

When trying to figure out how the Blackhawks need to be better to be legitimate Cup contenders, there is one statistic that desperately needs to be addressed.

While the team’s goals against average is the obvious area of weakness, another stat shows where the Blackhawks need to improve most.

No, the stat in question isn’t “Sami Lepisto shifts.”

Chicago is the highest scoring team in the Central Division (3.08 goals/game), just ahead of Detroit (3.05) and well ahead of Nashville (2.74) and St. Louis (2.54).

But the Blackhawks are allowing the most goals per game in the division (2.95), well higher than Nashville (2.57), Detroit (2.30) and St. Louis (1.86).

So why do we post the Lepisto video?

The video isn’t intended to add insult to injury for the defenseman, who watched the next 30 minutes after this ugly turnover. It’s more an example of the Blackhawks biggest problem.

The predictability of their outlet passing, and decision making from the blue line, has become an epidemic this season. And this video is a great example of what happens when a defenseman makes a bad pass: a goaltender is left one-on-one with a sniper, a situation that rarely favors the man between the pipes.

When looking at the other three playoff teams in the Central Division that are playoff-bound, the striking statistic is the number of giveaways by defensemen.

Here are the total giveaways by defensemen in the Central:

Detroit            137
St. Louis 131
Nashville 178
Chicago 211

Obviously this difference between the Hawks and the top three teams in the division is significant, and there is no better visual to reinforce the too-frequent result of these turnovers than the Lepisto play on Saturday afternoon.

If the Blackhawks can clean up their zone and turn the puck over less frequently, they’ll not only help one of the league’s best offenses but their goaltenders will take a lot less of the blame for a poor goals against average.

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