The Chicago Blackhawks slump continued into the first weekend of December, with the Hawks losing consecutive games to Western Conference opponents: 5-2 to the Nashville Predators on Saturday and 3-2 to the Calgary Flames on Sunday.
Chicago has won just three games since its 6-2-2 start that feels like ages ago. Let’s check in with some team trends in this Stock Report:
Through four games, Strome has two goals and an assist. The biggest knock on Strome was his skating ability. Again, it’s still a limited sample size, but Strome has been able to keep up with his linemates in Chicago. He’s never going to have the blazing speed of a player like Alexandre Fortin, but as long as he can skate well enough to support his impressive playmaking ability, Strome will do just fine in Chicago.
Crawford’s stat line continues to look bad (.903 save percentage, 3.17 goals-against average), largely the result of the porous defense in front of him. But Crawford kept the Hawks in the game with multiple acrobatic saves in the first two periods. But this season is proving that even he can’t do it alone.
Trusting the process ... maybe?
It’s hard to find positive with the Blackhawks in the middle of a 1-6 stretch, but Sunday’s performance against the Flames was one of the better team outings in recent memory, largely undone by a stupid, selfish major penalty taken in the second period (more on that in a minute) As coach Jeremy Colliton mentioned after the game, though, it’s only worthwhile if the Blackhawks can build on that performance and start hanging a few more in the win column.
Duncan Keith was ejected from Saturday’s game and Chris Kunitz was tossed on Sunday. Each incident was self-inflicted. Kunitz’s hit was on Calgary’s Travis Hamonic was a total cheap shot and has no place in the game. It had zero bearing on the play. There was zero reason for Kunitz to do what he did. As for Keith, his situation was different because Keith was responding to a cheap shot taken against him by Nashville’s Miikka Salomaki. But Keith is one of the most veteran players on the team and playing for an already talent-depleted blue line corps. By losing his control on Saturday night and going after Salomaki, he further depleted an already painfully thin group of defensemen.
These are two veteran players who snapped and put their teams at a severe disadvantage for the remainder of the game, not to mention the ensuing power plays after their penalties. Not a wise idea for a team that’s been unable to overcome those types of obstacles this season.
With the Blackhawks trailing by one goal in the third period, Chicago had to kill off a pair of penalties after Gustav Forsling shot the puck out of play and Jan Rutta upended a Calgary player in the defensive zone. The major penalties taken in the last few games were bad enough. But it’s even more difficult for this team to come from behind if it’s playing a man down.
The Blackhawks status in league standings
Chicago’s most recent slide has it creeping closer and closer to the NHL basement. With 23 points in 28 games, only the St. Louis Blues and Los Angeles Kings are underneath them, each with 21 points (and the Blackhawks have played three more games than the Blues). The New Jersey Devils are tied with 23 points in 25 games. The Blackhawks are looking up at everyone else in the NHL, far from where they were expected to be after picking up 14 points in their first 10 games.