The Chicago Blackhawks roster looks like it should be drought-proof.
It has more offensive talent than most other teams in the NHL and, at any given point in the season, it seems like someone should be on just enough of a hot streak to carry any teammates who are struggling to find the net.
Yet, here we are, with the Hawks losing nine of their last 14 games after winning their first two. The offense has been the biggest culprit, scoring two or fewer goals in nine of those games after erupting for 10 on opening night.
But what if I told you that the Hawks do this every year?
That this team always hits a slump in the first few months of the season? Just look at the last three seasons:
2014-15 season: This will sound familiar. Largely due to an offense that couldn’t buy a goal, the Hawks went 3-6 over a nine-game stretch in October and November, which included a pair of shutouts at the United Center.
2015-16 season: Lost five of seven from October 29 to November 12 and repeated that mark from November 20 to December 3.
2016-17 season: Lost five of six as the calendar turned over from December 20 to January 2, including a 4-1 loss to the St. Louis Blues in the 2017 Winter Classic. They also lost five of eight in January of that season.
Those deep depths were soon followed by strong market corrections, though. In 2014-15, the Hawks would go on to win 11 of 12 before Christmas. The 2015-16 team won seven of nine in December and then 12 in a row in January. Last year, the Hawks had win streaks of four, then three, then five in the early months of 2017.
I present this information as a sign of hope that we’re seeing from the Hawks is not a permanent malaise but a temporary condition that they will eventually overcome. I still don’t have a great feeling about this team’s chances when we get to April, but I still think this team will get to the second half of April with games to be played.
As for how this team is going to emerge from it’s slump ... well, that’s a great question. I imagine it’ll be the usual suspects leading the charge to slay the Demogorgon and get the Hawks out of hockey’s Upside Down. Maybe Patrick Kane will go off for another hat trick, or spark his line to a dominant performance like the one that opened the season against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Perhaps Jonathan Toews will carry a puck into the zone with that look of, “This puck is going into the net and there’s nothing anyone can to do stop that,” and start a rally. Or maybe Brandon Saad will skate a few circles around opposing defenders for a few lamps that finally loosens up this team on the ice.
It’s still too early to think this team is going to play like this for the next 82 games. They’ve provided plenty of evidence to the contrary, that they’ll break out soon.
As hard as it’s going to be, patience is the required virtue at this stage of the season.