From being swept by the Nashville Predators in the first round of the playoffs to defeating the Pittsburgh Penguins 10-1 in the 2017-18 season opener, it’s safe to say that 2017 has been a year of ups and downs for the Chicago Blackhawks. With a few notable concerns early in the 2017-18 season and plenty to improve on, the Hawks need to have a better 2018.
Here are four New Years resolutions for the Blackhawks for 2018.
1. Improvement of Power Play
It has become a joke amongst Blackhawks fans that power plays don’t really mean anything anymore since the Hawks are lucky if they even get one shot on goal in the two minute advantage period. What is the point of the one-man advantage if you can’t get extra pucks in the net? During power plays, the Hawks need to start taking the one-man advantage more seriously. They need to stay in the offensive zone and get as many pucks into the net as possible.
Duncan Keith says of the power play, “If we had all the answers we could correct it. You look at the good power plays around the league, and they move the puck quick, they recover pucks after they get a shot, they shoot the puck, and they got a net-front presence. It’s all those things that we can talk about, but it’s a matter of getting it done and executing.”
If the Blackhawks improve their power play, they could easily become one of the more dominant offensive teams in the league. If they pay attention to what other teams are doing, as Keith suggests, it’s achievable.
2. Improvement in Defense
Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook are two of the most dominant defensemen in the league, but it takes more than two players to carry a strong defense. With the absence of starting goaltender Corey Crawford, a strong defensive core is more important than ever. It is no secret that their defense has not been the strongest this year, despite strong younger defensemen Cody Franson and Gustav Forsling.
The Hawks can improve their defense by keeping the pressure off the goaltender and trying their hardest to keep the puck in the offensive zone. A good offense is always good defense as well, and the forwards need to help keep the puck in the offensive zone as well.
3. Solidify the Lines
The offensive lines have been changing constantly throughout the 2017-18 season. Lines that stay consistent should stay together, such as Brandon Saad on Jonathan Toews on the top line and Lance Bouma, John Hayden, and Tommy Wingels on the fourth line. Toews and Saad play well together, and the fourth line, known as the ‘energy line’, has some of the best chemistry on the team.
With lines that are solidified, a routine is created. Changing lines so often can be distracting for players, and, if the Hawks stick to a routine that helps them win, it can help them in the long run.
4. Scoring First
It’s no secret that the team who scores first is probably going to win the game. The Hawks are no exception and have wasted plenty of scoreless first periods early in the 2017-18 season. If they can start scoring early on, momentum will improve throughout the game, and they will be more likely to win.
They can improve on this by treating every minute of the game like it’s the last and not getting lazy throughout the first period or any other time in the game. If they play 100 percent all of the time, positive results will follow.
The Hawks have plenty to improve on in 2018. If they focus on having a better power play, better defense, solidifying the lines, and scoring first, they can have a strong year.