Weekly Lost & Found: Blackhawks, Predators, Flames & Blue Jackets

Happy Valentine’s Day! With men’s and women’s Olympic hockey underway, our attention might be divided. But since the NHL is using what would be the Olympic break to play rescheduled games, we need to continue to analyze the league’s trends.

Weekly Lost & Found What's Trending in the NHL
Weekly Lost & Found What’s Trending in the NHL (The Hockey Writers)

The latest Weekly Lost & Found mostly concerns the Western Conference, relative to last week’s stay in the east. We’ll slide into the Central, Pacific and Metropolitan Divisions. By the time this goes live, Super Bowl Sunday will have already passed, so in that spirit, let’s “kick” this off.

Lost: Chicago Blackhawks, Nashville Predators Struggling Over Past 10 Games

Blackhawks Hemorrhaging Goals as Losing Ways Continue

The Blackhawks have made headlines several times this season, and not for good reasons. They make ours for their 1-1 record this past week, beating the Edmonton Oilers 4-1 and losing to the St. Louis Blues 5-1. Despite the split, their 2-6-2 record over the past 10 games shows a trend in the wrong direction. 

They’ve had a lot of trouble generating chances. Their Corsi-for percentage (CF%) is just under 45%, and they’ve allowed 39 goals and hold a minus-15 goal differential in those 10 games. Their penalty kill hasn’t helped much either, averaging 70%. On the season, their 74.5% penalty kill is near the league’s basement.

Patrick Kane is still doing what he does best and leads the team with 44 points in 44 games. Alex DeBrincat is on pace to surpass his career-high in goals and pot 46 this season. Seth Jones leads the Hawks’ defensemen with 30 points, more than double the next closest defender. However, that’s about it for bright spots on the team right now.

Patrick Kane Chicago Blackhawks
Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks superstar forward (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Their goaltending hasn’t been sturdy this season, but that’s understandable considering they’re facing an average of 32.1 shots against per game. Marc-Andre Fleury, who could be on the move at the deadline, sports a 2.94 goals-against average (GAA) and .908 save percentage (SV%), while backup Kevin Lankinen has a 3.41 GAA and .889 SV%.

The Blackhawks have had a plethora of off-ice issues this season, but that shouldn’t detract from their issues on the ice. They should look to move Fleury so they can get something back for the 37-year-old goaltender who’s in the final year of his deal. He has a modified no-trade clause, and if he wants a chance to win, he’ll be okay with a trade.

Chicago plays four games this week, three at home.

Predators’ Recent Inconsistency Could Be Problematic Down the Line

We now jump to Nashville for the first time since the 10th Weekly Lost & Found and for the first time in the “Lost” section this season. The Predators lost both games this past week and dropped to 4-4-2 in their last 10. They’re in a playoff spot by a handful of points but could move into and out of a wild-card spot as they’re just a point ahead of the Blues. 

Related: Solving the Nashville Predators’ Penalty Problem

They have an even goal differential, scoring and surrendering 31 goals. Their mediocre special teams are partially responsible with a 16% success rate on the power play, and the penalty kill averaged a 76% success rate in the last 10 games.

Their big guns are playing well. Captain Roman Josi has nine points in his last 10 games, as does Matt Duchene. Filip Forsberg has tallied six goals and 11 points in his past nine games. Mikael Granlund and Ryan Johansen round out their top-five scorers, but there’s a steep drop-off after that.

Roman Josi Nashville Predators
Roman Josi, Nashville Predators captain and star defenseman (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

The Predators are heavily reliant on Juuse Saros in net and even when the team in front of him struggles, he gives them a chance to win. He’s played 40 of the team’s 48 games with 24 wins and two shutouts, holding a 2.43 GAA and .925 SV%. 

Saros is the rock that the team needs and they should be fine in the long run. However, they’re not in the most secure spot in the Central Division. The Dallas Stars sit three points out of a wild-card spot (eight behind the Predators) and have won seven of their past 10.

The Preds play twice this week against a pair of tough opponents, the Washington Capitals and Carolina Hurricanes, as they look to turn things around.

Found: Calgary Flames, Columbus Blue Jackets Ride Recent Success To Winning Streaks

Flames Keep to Their Namesake During League-Best Winning Streak

The Flames are back in our good graces as their six-game winning streak is the best active win streak in the NHL. With eight wins in their past 10 games, they’ve amassed a plus-22 goal differential, but interestingly, it isn’t coming from their power play.

Despite the goal differential and a 60.6 CF%, they’ve only scored five power-play goals in 29 attempts, good for 17%. While they want more from their power play, scoring 37 even-strength goals in a 10-game span is a good sign. Andrew Mangiapane has come through when called upon offensively all season. He scored six goals and nine points over those 10 games and now leads the team with 24 in 45 games.

Andrew Mangiapane Calgary Flames
Andrew Mangiapane, Calgary Flames leading goal-scorer (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

On the blue line, 24-year-old Oliver Kylington is having a breakout season with 24 points in 44 games. It’s at the right time, too, as his contract is up following this season, though he might not be the team’s highest priority.

The Athletic’s Dom Luszczyszyn’s model awards him a market value of $8 million right now. That’s an awfully high number that probably isn’t attainable for his fourth contract…there are other free agents to consider in Calgary — namely, Johnny Gaudreau and pending RFA Matthew Tkachuk. Those moves likely come first, and then the remaining cap space can be worked out for the rest of the lineup”

– Shayna Goldman (from “What Oliver Kylington’s breakout season could cost the Flames this summer”, The Athletic, 2/10/22).

The penalty kill has been strong and that hasn’t changed in this recent stretch. Along with lights-out goaltending from the Jacob Markstrom and Daniel Vladar duo, the Flames have one of the best defensive teams in the NHL. Vladar has been strong in his 10 games, winning six. However, Markstrom has been making a serious case for the Vezina Trophy. He has 20 wins and eight shutouts in 36 games with a 2.12 GAA and .926 SV%. 

Related: Flames’ Next 20 Games Are Crucial to Playoff Bid

The Flames have three games this week, all at home, as they continue their homestand. The Pacific Division is still pretty hard to predict, but if they keep up this level of play, they should be in good shape come the spring. Keep an eye out at the deadline, as they have some cap space to play with and could be in the market for another piece to help them make a push for the Cup. 

Blue Jackets Have Room for Cautious Optimism With Recent Winning Streak

Despite being 10 points back from a wild-card spot, the Blue Jackets are riding a three-game winning streak and have won five of their past six games. They’ve also seen their newest captain, Boone Jenner, take off, and he is on pace for a career-year in his first season wearing the “C”

In those six games, Columbus tallied a plus-4 goal differential with a 50.7 CF%. Their power play, which has converted at 17.2% this season, is firing at 33%. Their penalty kill continues to hover around 80% as it has for most of the season.

As previously mentioned, Jenner is having a great campaign. He leads the team in goals with 19 and points with 33 in 46 games. Patrik Laine is having a strong season as well, with 27 points in 27 games, making a case for a contract extension. Zach Werenski is leading the way offensively from the blue line with 27 points in 44 games.

Boone Jenner Columbus Blue Jackets
Boone Jenner, Columbus Blue Jackets captain, is having a strong campaign in his first season as captain (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

The Blue Jackets have also seen strong play from Joonas Korpisalo over this stretch. He got into three games and won two, with a .919 SV%. Elvis Merzlikins has seen the brunt of the action recently and all season. He’s 3-1 in his past four games of this stretch, with a .871 SV%, well below his season average of .906 SV%.

The team could be pesky down the line. They likely won’t have enough steam to make the playoffs but could play spoiler in many ways. They’ll play three games this week, just one at home, as they look to move closer to a wild-card spot before it’s too late. 

Related: Blue Jackets’ Zach Werenski Talks Penalty Kill, Fighting & More

We love an entertaining spoiler story, and the Blue Jackets could be one of the teams to fill that role. Be sure to stick with The Hockey Writers for more coverage on these teams, the rest of the league, and the Olympics as we continue through February. 

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