For about eight seasons, the Chicago Blackhawks were the toast of the National Hockey League.
Not only did they make the playoffs every year from the 2008-09 season to the 2016-17 season, but they won three Cups in that span in 2010, 2013, and 2015. They were a Cup contender year in and year out and to go along with that, they were easily one of the best teams in the entire league.
Last season, things started to go downhill for this franchise. They missed the playoffs, dealt with a lot of injuries, and generally were not a good hockey team.
Fast forward one season later and it appears that the club has hit rock bottom. As of this writing, the team is last in the entire league and absolutely nowhere close to a wild card or playoff spot in general.
There are many issues with this club right now. For starters, this team is struggling to put the puck in the net.
As of this writing, the Blackhawks are 21st in the league in goals scored with 84 goals in 31 games. This means that they are averaging just over 2.5 goals a game, which with the way goals are being scored right now in this league, is clearly not enough.
For a team that has the likes of Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Brandon Saad, Artem Anisimov, and Alex Debrincat, this simply is not good enough. Yes, these players are doing a decent job contributing offensively, but it is not enough.
The reason why is because the Blackhawks have no depth. Besides the players mentioned above, no one else is really contributing, and in a league where a team really needs three good lines in order to make a dent in this league, the Blackhawks barely have two.
Not only are the Blackhawks not scoring, but they are currently having trouble keeping the puck out of their net. As of this writing, the Blackhawks are 30th in the league in goals allowed as they have given up 114 goals in 31 games, which means they are allowing close to four goals per game.
Part of the problem is that their veteran defensemen, Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith, are not playing well. They are aging, slow, and are currently a combined -8 on the season, which means that are on the ice for more goals allowed than they are for goals for.
Another issue is that both of the team’s goaltenders are struggling. Corey Crawford, after starting out well when he returned from his injury, is currently 5-14-1 with a 3.21 goals against average, a .901 save percentage, and 1 shutout.
The team’s backup, Cam Ward, has not been any better. For someone who was supposed to help this team and take some of the pressure off of Crawford, Ward has yet to do either of those things as he is currently 4-3-4 with a 3.91 goals against average and a .888 save percentage.
The Blackhawks have not been this bad in a very long time. I would imagine that if you are a Blackhawks’ fan, you are probably not used to seeing your club in the NHL’s basement.
It will be up to the team’s ownership and general manager Stan Bowman on which direction this team is going to go in moving forward. At this rate, Bowman may not even be a part of the process as there is probably a chance that he could end up getting canned at the end of the season.
No matter what happens, it is time for the Blackhawks to look towards the future and figure out ways they can be relevant again sooner rather than later.
*Photo: Chicago Tribune