Blackhawks Points of Interest from Week 24

Yep. We’ve been doing this for 24 long weeks. The Chicago Blackhawks record currently stands at 30-34-9, for 69 points. This is good for 24th place in the league. If you had the ability to go back one year and then look ahead to today, you probably wouldn’t believe it. After all, the Hawks have made the playoffs the past nine years in a row, and finished the regular season on top of the Central Division with 109 points and 50 wins last year. Not to mention those three Cups. We all thought the Hawks might not be as good this year, but no one saw them being this bad.

Yet this is the state of affairs as we sit today. It’s getting harder and harder to watch the Hawks as this season winds down. Because even when this not-so-good team plays well, they rarely manage a win anymore. It’s rock bottom right now. All we can do is try to look for the silver lining, and build for the future. With that in mind, let’s discuss this past week’s matchups.

Blackhawks matchups this past week:

@ Winnipeg Jets, Thursday, 3/15. Loss 6-2

@ Buffalo Sabres, Saturday, 3/17. Loss 5-3

Vs. St. Louis Blues, Sunday, 3/18. Loss 5-4 in OT

What Went Right for the Blackhawks-Forward Depth

This past Thursday, it was Brandon Saad and Patrick Sharp with goals. On Saturday, defenseman Jordan Oesterle, Tomas Jurco, and Jonathan Toews all scored. Sunday’s contest included four goals from the Hawks: three from Alex DeBrincat, and one from David Kampf.

Brandon Saad Blackhawks
Brandon Saad was one of many players that notched a goal this past week. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

That’s seven different players scoring goals, and pretty much every line represented. If you delve deeper and look at assists, 11 players contributed helpers throughout the last three games. The first line of Saad, Toews, and Kane led the way, as they’re supposed to do. An argument can be made that loading up on the first line is at the expense of the other three lines. But the kids and company have proven them wrong, finding ways to contribute. And they’re doing it on their own, without the support of the big boys. This is a good sign for the future.

What Went Wrong for the Blackhawks-Can’t Close it Out

Um, they lost? Yeah, that’s the simple answer to what went wrong. But here’s the thing. The Hawks scored first in two of the last three games. They were winning in the third period in two of the last three games.

This team has forgotten how to win. Even when they’re winning and playing well, they can’t close it out. They find a way to lose. Whether it be a defensive breakdown, a soft goal, or a missed offensive opportunity, they always let the opponent back in the game. If they’re going to go anywhere next year, the Hawks need to rekindle that will to win.

Connor Murphy Blackhawks
Connor Murphy and his teammates are struggling to find ways to win. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Blackhawks Goal of the Week

Well, well, well. I’m sure it comes as no surprise that we highlight DeBrincat’s hat trick from Sunday night. The irony here is Brinksy was demoted from the second line to the third line for the last two contests. Perhaps it had something to do with him not scoring for 13 straight games. But he brought that to an end with a power play goal and then two more scores for good measure. Here’s his third tally of the night.

This marks DeBrincat’s third hat trick in his rookie season. He’s now tied with Kane for the team lead of 25 goals on the season. Kudos to DeBrincat for making things happen with fellow linemate Jurco. But think what he could, and will, do with a more skilled partner. Next year, my friends.

Related: Blackhawks Top 3 Historic Rivalries

Other Blackhawks News and Notes

  • Five Hawks’ players have 20 or more goals this season. As mentioned earlier, Kane and DeBrincat lead with 25 goals. Toews, Nick Schmaltz, and Artem Anisimov each have 20 goals. Kane and Toews have now scored 20+ goals in 11 consecutive NHL seasons.
  • Defensive breakdowns are by far one of the biggest problems for the Hawks. This could easily be part of the “what went wrong” section. Last week  it was Duncan Keith being a turnover machine, and this week the new third pairing of Oesterle and Connor Murphy especially struggled.
  • On a positive note, Jan Rutta played on the first pairing with Keith for the last two games. He stepped up with a solid defensive effort, and has taken his increased ice time in stride.
Jan Rutta Blackhawks
Jan Rutta’s play is one of the positive notes coming out of the Hawks’ recent outings. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)
  • J-F Berube came in to relieve Anton Forsberg after Forsberg’s exceptionally bad start on Thursday. He also took the net both Saturday and Sunday in back-to-back tilts. He’s put up a valiant effort, especially considering the defense in front of him. But it still isn’t good enough. He has a tendency to give up a lot of rebounds, as well as soft goals at the most inopportune times.
  • Matthew Highmore left Sunday’s game in the second period after crashing hard into the boards. He did not return.

What’s on Tap for the Blackhawks

Are you still with me, boys and girls? Are you going to see it to the end, and watch the rest of the season? Yeah, it’s depressing, but there are silver linings.

The Hawks meet the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday and the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday at the United Center. They head to New York to play the Islanders on Saturday. We’re getting down to the wire. There’s only three short weeks left to watch Chicago Blackhawks’ hockey. If you can still stomach it. Hey, maybe they’ll win a game or two.