Blackhawks Need These 4 Forwards to Begin Stepping Up

To put it nicely, the Chicago Blackhawks‘ offense has been underwhelming these past few weeks. The team has scored just nine goals in their last seven games, going 2-4-1 in that span.

Now, the Blackhawks have had many factors out of their control. From injuries to a goaltender carousel, the team has gotten a taste of adversity after exceeding expectations during their first stretch of games. That doesn’t mean they can’t start scoring, though. While Chicago’s forward group isn’t amazing, it’s also hard to envision it being this mediocre long-term.

Although they remain unlikely to contend, the Blackhawks need to get the offense going. Here are four forwards who must step up.

Philipp Kurashev

Though he’s young, Philipp Kurashev has shown flashes of being an incredibly skillful player during his NHL career. He had an impressive start to the season, recording a solid six points through his first nine games. Yet, since the calendar flipped to November, he has just one assist over his last seven games, despite getting more ice time in addition to top-line minutes with Max Domi and Patrick Kane.

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It’s hard not to root for Kurashev. Right now, it’s a little tough to see him emerging into a consistent top-six forward, yet his skill and effort make him an exciting player to watch even when he isn’t scoring. He isn’t perfect, and he has room to grow, but his recent lack of offense is concerning after such a promising start. On a one-year, “prove it”-type deal, he needs to prove his worth a little more.

Evident by his hot start in October, Kurashev has shown he can score in bunches. Finding a more consistent scoring touch should be key, and he needs to begin producing.

Max Domi

After recording seven points (four goals, three assists) through his first seven games while playing on the top line with Kane and Andreas Athanasiou, it wouldn’t have been a stretch to say Max Domi could match his career-high 72 points earlier this season. That seems unlikelier now, as Domi has recorded just four points through his last nine games.

Despite his early-season success, Domi’s regression seemed a little inevitable. For as good as he looked, there were times when he struggled to find chemistry with Athanasiou and Kane, a theme that has continued during the Blackhawks’ recent slump.

Max Domi Chicago Blackhawks
Max Domi, Chicago Blackhawks (Photo by Melissa Tamez/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Granted, it’s not as if Domi has been totally quiet lately, given he has four assists in his last five games. Yet, he doesn’t have a goal since Oct. 27 against the Edmonton Oilers. As a possible trade chip, the Blackhawks need him to find the net just a little more, which could lead to team success while also raising his value.

Taylor Raddysh

It’s difficult to project Taylor Raddysh’s future. Like Kurashev, he has shown traits of being a solid middle-six forward with a little bit of grit. Raddysh hasn’t found a consistent scoring touch, though, despite flashes of success. Furthermore, while he has seven points (four goals, three assists) on the season, he has just one goal through seven games in November.

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At 24, Raddysh might not become a bonafide top-six forward, and that’s OK. Aside from his scoring, there are other elements of his game, such as his skating and physicality, that make him a productive player. Having said that, the Blackhawks simply need more from him right now, especially offensively.

Should Raddysh continue his slump, it wouldn’t be difficult to see him getting bottom-six time. Both have also recently gone quiet, but Sam Lafferty and Jason Dickinson are capable of filling his spot on the second line. As the youngest player of the three, however, this wouldn’t be great for Raddysh and his development. Just like Kurashev, finding consistency should be a priority for Raddysh as he keeps growing.

Patrick Kane

It might sound strange, but even as the Blackhawks’ leading scorer, the team simply needs more from Patrick Kane. He has a respectable 13 points (two goals, 11 assists) and is on pace to finish the season with 67, which are still impressive numbers for any player. But as someone who has scored at a point-per-game pace for much of the last half-decade, Kane has been in a bit of a slump for his standards, especially considering he doesn’t have a goal since Oct. 27 against the Oilers.

Kane’s in an unusual position. Aside from possibly Seth Jones, he’s one of the Blackhawks’ few stars. For the first time in his career, Chicago isn’t exactly committed to winning on a nightly basis, which might be hurting his performance. There’s also constant trade talk and the fact he hasn’t yet developed regular chemistry with Athanasiou and Domi.

Patrick Kane Chicago Blackhawks
Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

It’s also worth noting Kane’s getting older; his 34th birthday is this weekend. However, he’s aged like a fine wine since he won his last Stanley Cup in 2015, arguably playing the best hockey of his career since then. At this point in his career, reaching 90 to 100 points might seem a little tough, but I don’t think scoring at or near a point-per-game pace is an unreasonable ask, given what he has accomplished these past few seasons. It seems like a matter of time before he gets going again. With a nine-game scoreless drought, he’s just too good of a player to stay this quiet for this long.

The Blackhawks haven’t been as bad as many thought, but reasons for concern remain. With a back-to-back this weekend against the Boston Bruins (Nov. 19) and Pittsburgh Penguins (Nov. 20), followed by a Thanksgiving Eve matchup against the Dallas Stars (Nov. 23), they have their work cut out for them as the season reaches the one-quarter mark. Things aren’t getting easier, and their offense needs to step it up a bit, especially these four forwards.


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