5 Stats That Should Make the Chicago Blackhawks Worried Moving Forward
There is no trouble in paradise, at least not yet.
The Chicago Blackhawks started the season with one goal, and that goal remains the same. It is to win the Stanley Cup for the third time in the last six seasons.
It's a realistic goal, but it's one that they will not be able to do anything about until the playoffs start in April. But in order to put themselves in a strong position to accomplish that goal, they have to take the necessary steps in the regular season.
There are certain checkpoints along the way, and those checkpoints are often measured by statistics. The Blackhawks are off to a reasonable 5-3-1 start, but there are several statistics that may be causing general manager Stan Bowman and head coach Joel Quenneville some uneasiness as they ponder the team's path this season.
Scoring: 2.33 Goals Per Game
Why were the Chicago Blackhawks one of the top preseason favorites to win the Stanley Cup at the start of the season?
Because they have more talent than just about any teams in the league. They have an array of stars that perhaps the Pittsburgh Penguins or Los Angeles Kings can match, but it doesn't seem that any other teams belong in that category.
Jonathan Toews is a remarkable leader as well as a top performer, while Patrick Kane is such a magical puck-handler, playmaker and scorer that he has gotten LeBron James' attention.
When you throw in stars like Marian Hossa, Patrick Sharp, Brandon Saad, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook, you should be putting the puck in the net. The Blackhawks have been among the top scoring teams in the league for the last six seasons, but not this year.
The Blackhawks are averaging 2.33 goals per game, a figure that ranks 23rd in the league. That's fairly shocking, even though it is still early in the season.
Great teams put the puck in the net, and the Blackhawks are not doing it.
Shooting Percentage: 4.20 Percent
This area may be the most alarming number of the young season.
The Blackhawks are connecting on 4.20 percent of their shots on goal, and this is an alarming number that will keep the team from meeting its long-term aspirations if it doesn't pick up in a very short time.
The Blackhawks rank 29th of the league's 30 teams in this category, and the only team they are ahead of is the lowly Florida Panthers.
That was not the case a year ago. The Blackhawks ranked fifth last year, connecting on 8.43 percent of their shots on net. They were connecting on twice as many shots as they are this season.
The Blackhawks are firing a lot of shots right at opposing goaltenders and doing it from long distance. That's not going to get it done in the long run.
Power Play: 18.4 Percent
The power play continues to be an issue for the Blackhawks. Despite the skill level that Quenneville has to choose from, his two primary power-play units disappoint on a regular basis.
The sad truth is that the Blackhawks rank one spot behind the struggling Carolina Hurricanes in power-play effectiveness. While there are many reasons behind the shortcomings in this area, the Blackhawks often try to work the puck around throughout their possession and search for the perfect shot.
They continue to search as the seconds go by, and they simply don't shoot enough. That tendency often drives Quenneville up a wall.
He saw this issue in preseason, and it continues to dog his team.
“We were looking for too many stick-to-stick plays and too many perfect plays we didn’t shoot the puck on the power play,” Quenneville told Tracey Myers of CSNChicago.com. “We could’ve gotten more momentum off it.”
Marian Hossa: Three Points in Nine Games
Marian Hossa has been one of the best all-around players in the NHL since the 1998-99 season.
The Blackhawks are counting on Hossa to remain at that level in 2014-15. The 35-year-old Hossa remains in top shape and continues to play hard at both ends of the ice. In the Blackhawks' 1-0 loss to Anaheim Tuesday night, Hossa did an outstanding job of checking and making strong defensive plays in his own zone. His hustle and work ethic were impressive.
But Hossa is not producing on the offensive end. He has just three points in nine games, and he also has a minus-two rating. Since it's not a work ethic issue, you have to wonder why he is not burying his chances.
It seems that every time Hossa has a shot from the prime scoring areas, he is firing the puck right at the goaltender's midsection. He is connecting on 3.6 percent of his shots on goal this season, far below the 12.4 percent he scored on last year.
Over the course of his career, Hossa has scored 998 points in 1,099 games, meaning he has scored approximately .91 points per game. This year he is scoring .33 points per game.
It seems likely that this is just a slump and Hossa will score a bunch of goals in a short time. The Blackhawks want to see him break out of it immediately.
Second Period Woes: Two Goals Scored
The Chicago Blackhawks may not know that hockey is a 60-minute game.
Throughout the first nine games of the season, the Blackhawks have been productive in the first and third periods, but they have taken the middle period off.
The Dallas Stars lead the league with 15 second-period goals, while 11 other teams have scored 10 or more goals in the period.
That's one of the reasons the team has not gotten off to the kind of stellar start it had two years ago when it went an NHL-record 24 games without losing in regulation and ultimately won the Stanley Cup.
The Blackhawks have been sleepy in the middle period and they must wake up quickly.