In a conference that has a three point differential between first (Red Wings) and sixth (Blackhawks), every game seems to count. Going from first to fourth, back to second, then down to sixth can be very frustrating for us fans. But let’s take a deep breath and relax. We know this Blackhawks team is good; they just aren’t playing well. So I am going to take a step back and look at some of the problems they are having along with some of the possible fixes.
A lot of people go right for the goaltending. I don’t believe it’s a problem. The Blackhawks have two solid goaltenders that can take you to a Stanley Cup. I look at the defense. On paper they look like one of the top defenses in the NHL but it hasn’t been as good as it has been in recent years. They are committing poor turnovers in their own zone, not clearing the puck out of the crease off rebounds, and they just aren’t communicating out on the ice like they need to. All of this has resulted in odd man breaks and easy goal scoring opportunities for opposing teams.
On the other hand, the offense hasn’t really had any major problems; seeing that they are amongst the top in the league in goal scoring. So I am going to nitpick here and say that the Blackhawks are too cute. They look for the perfect pass and the perfect shot. Looking for those perfect opportunities has ruined some good goal scoring chances. I think the Hawks need to just simplify the game. Shoot when you have the chance. Make the easy pass. That’s why the rookies Jimmy Hayes and Andrew Shaw have looked so good the past couple weeks. They go hard to the net and keep things simple.
Another gripe I have with the offense is the lack of production from certain players. When I think about this, Patrick Kane comes to mind. He hasn’t had the goal scoring production which we as Blackhawks fans have been accustom to, only 11 goals in 50 games. I don’t really know how to explain his struggles. He’s had the chances, just hasn’t been able to take advantage.
With the injuries, poor defense, close losses and being sixth in the conference; we could defiantly say that it has been a frustrating first half of the season. Look for this team to add a couple players and have a strong second half.
- The rookies have stepped up in a big way this year – Jimmy Hayes and Andrew Shaw have been fantastic while Brandon Pirri had a solid outing against Nashville with Toews out.
- Look for the Blackhawks to get a Top 6 Forward – Blackhawks need a Second Line Center. A couple of names that have been floating around are Tuomo Ruutu(ex-Hawk), Rick Nash, Derek Roy, Ryan Getzlaf and Sam Gagner. To get some of these guys you will have to give up a “star“quality player. We all know that Brian Bickell and Michael Frolik have been missing since the emergence of Hayes and Shaw, so they could be in a deal but that isn’t enough. You may have to throw Nick Leddy in there; whether or not the Blackhawks would do it is another story. The Blackhawks would also have to part ways with some prospects along with draft picks. (Shaw, Hayes, Pirri, Beach, Morin and Saad)
- Look for the Blackhawks to add one more defenseman – Rumors have said the Blackhawks are looking at Jeff Schultz from the Capitals and Tim Gleason from Carolina. Sean O’Donnell can’t be your sixth defenseman, he is bad.