With 20 games completed, we’ve hit the virtual quarter pole for the 2017-18 edition of the Chicago Blackhawks. It’s been a whiplash-inducing, roller-coaster ride for the first six weeks, peaking with a 10-1 thrashing of the Pittsburgh Penguins on opening night and finding its valley in a 1-4-1 stretch over the final two weeks of October.
Although the Hawks have won three of their last four games, there are still several notable names who’ve been missing from the scoresheet far too often. And since that 10-goal outburst against the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions, a few players’ contributions should get plastered onto the side of milk cartons so we can figure out where the hell they went.
Here’s a look at some of the most egregious scoring droughts still plaguing the Blackhawks:
Season totals: 6 goals, 13 assists
Current dry spell: one goal in last 10 games
Kane could be on the verge of snapping out of his current funk, with one goal and four assists in his last five games. But the red flag that remains with Kane is his lack of production at even strength, something noted by our Satchel Price during the Nov. 12 game against the New Jersey Devils:
Patrick Kane has one primary assist at 5-on-5 in the last month. Three assists overall.— Satchel Price (@SatchelPrice) November 13, 2017
He had an even-strength assist against the New York Rangers last Wednesday and added a power play helper against the Penguins on Saturday. But the numbers aren’t piling up at the usual rate for Kane.
Season totals: 5 goals, 8 assists
Current dry spell: two goals in last 15 games; five points in last 11 games
We’ve seen this movie before, haven’t we? Toews is a notoriously slow starter, although the re-acquisition of Brandon Saad was expected to alleviate some of that. So far, it hasn’t. Toews’ most recent goal against the Rangers was an empty-netter, meaning he hasn’t put a puck behind a goalie in three weeks.
Season totals: 7 goals, 3 assists
Current dry spell: one goal in last 14 games; one assist in last 17 games; three points in last 14 games
This one was a stunner. When Saad opened this season with a hat trick, it elicited visions of grandeur from this Hawks fan, and I know I wasn’t alone. But since notching five goals and two assists in his first four games, Saad has been zero Kelvin-cold. Saad told The Athletic’s Scott Powers that he thinks the goals are going to be here soon. Our fingers are crossed.
Season totals: 4 goals, 6 assists
Current dry spell: one goal in last 12 games; four points in last 17 games
Hartman is only in his second year of NHL hockey, but he was a first-round pick and the standard for him went up after he scored 19 goals in the 2016-17 season. After notching five points in the season opener, it’s been desert-dry for Hartman. So far, he’s been the only forward banished to press box for a night because of these struggles. His possession numbers are also hurting, posting a 47.3 CF% that is 4.7% below the team rate. Last year, he was at 52.8%, which was 2.6% above the team rate.
Season totals: 5 goals, 8 assists
Current dry spell: one goal in last 11 games
Panik scored points in bunches, with two assists against Carolina and three more against the Rangers. Three of those five assists were secondary ones, though, and one of the primary assists came on an empty-net goal. His last goal was on October 21 against the Arizona Coyotes, meaning his goal drought is now beyond one month. That’s tough to take from a 22-goal scorer last season consistently playing in the top six.
Season totals: 2 goals, 2 assists
Current dry spell: one goal in last 14 games
If this was Sharp’s only stint in Chicago, he probably wouldn’t be mentionedhere. But we all remember him as a 30-goal scorer for several season with the Blackhawks over the decade-plus. It feels weird to say that Lance Bouma has more points than Sharp this season, but that sentence is less offensive when you consider that Bouma has a higher salary cap hit than Sharp does. Any honest goals projections for Sharp likely peaked in the high-teens for the handsome sniper’s 2017-18 season. At this rate, though, that seemed too optimistic.
I’m actually encouraged after seeing all these numbers laid out. Why? If you’d told me the above players were going to be on scoring droughts like that at the same time, I would’ve expected the Hawks to be near the league’s basement. But thanks to some recent hot streaks by the supporting cast (hey there, Alex DeBrincat, Artem Anisimov, and the Best Goalie in the Western Conference), Chicago would be in a playoff spot if the season ended today. I don’t see any way these collective funks last too much longer. And if these big names start lighting the lamp consistently? A rapid ascent up the standings would likely coincide.