Here are some trends:
The first period
Chicago has had much better starts in its last three games, following an 11-game trend of the Blackhawks falling behind in the first period. Two goals in the first four minutes against San Jose was a welcome development. Now to work on the rest of the game ...
The Connor Murphy/Carl Dahlstrom pairing
Murphy’s return from injury and Dahlstrom’s recent promotion from the AHL provides a limited sample size of the work these two have put in since being paired up by coach Jeremy Colliton, but the early returns are encouraging. In the three games that they’ve played together, this duo has been on the ice for a total of 41:22 (that and the following stats all per Natural Stat Trick). Despite starting with an offensive zone faceoff just 23.8 percent of the time, they’re only minus-5 (45-40) in the shot attempts category — rather impressive, considering the lack of offensive zone starts. Murphy and Dahlstrom, when paired together, are yet to allow an even-strength goal against, too.
Dylan Sikura’s rush to the net
Brendan Perlini scored the goal, but Sikura made it all happen by battling his way to the net late in the first period. It was especially impressive that Sikura — listed at 5-foot-11, 166 pounds — shrugged off the 6-2, 205-pound Justin Braun while carrying the puck.
Sikura’s ability to make plays even against much larger competition will be a vital part of his transition to becoming a consistent producer at the NHL level.
One of the more frustrating aspects of that Corey Crawford injury is that a better play by Keith could’ve prevented the entire situation from happening. Logan Couture picks up the puck at his own blue line and is skating by himself through the neutral zone while teammates head for a change. As Couture gets near the red line, Keith jumped in for an over-aggressive pinch, and Couture chips the puck past Keith and creates the scoring opportunity which led to Crawford’s concussion.
Those are the kinds of mistakes in the neutral zone that have plagued Keith and the entire Hawks D corps this season.
The league’s worst special team units
After going 0-for-2 on the penalty kill and 0-for-4 on the power play against San Jose, the Blackhawks now own league-worst conversion rates on both the penalty kill (71.84 percent) and power play (11.43).
That’s the kind of season it’s been in Chicago.