The Chicago Blackhawks suffered a 4-3 loss against the Calgary Flames at the United Center Monday night, and fell to 1-10-2 against the Pacific Division this season. Although, their record is not pretty against the Pacific, the Hawks have had some significant improvements to their overall game in the past month. Here is a quick look at the first 17 games under Jeremy Colliton juxtaposed with the last 13.
First 17 games
- Record: 3-12-2
- Goals/game: 2.41
- Differential: -24
- Power Play: 8.5%
- Penalty Kill: 68.8%
Last 13 games
- Record: 7-4-2
- Goals/game: 3.46
- Differential: +2
- Power Play: 28.9%
- Penalty Kill: 76.9%
The most noticeable improvements have been the 20.4 percent increase on power play conversions, which has been a prominent focus in Colliton’s practice plans. Additionally, the Hawks finally have a positive goal differential to brag about, and it is a result of an enhanced defensive zone coverage scheme, the return of Connor Murphy, solid goaltending, and the expeditious development of Erik Gustafsson, Carl Dahlström, and Henri Jokiharju.
Below are a couple charts that provide an interesting summary of the 4-3 loss to the Flames.
Shots were 43 to 35 in favor of the Flames, with a majority of their attempts, and three of their four goals, coming from right around the crease and low slot.
Colliton spoke about it in his post game interview, but the Hawks, coming off a hard fought 5-3 win in Pittsburgh on Sunday night, did not win enough puck battles in the third period. The puck possession game flow chart depicts that shift in the momentum of the game.
Kane’s goal Monday night was one of his best. In his last six games, he has seven goals, five assists, 22 shots on goal for a 31.8 shooting percentage, and has averaged 22:12 minutes of ice time. On the season, Kane has a 55.1 corsi-for rate in all situations, has been on the ice for 69 goals for and 57 goals against, and is on pace for 45 goals and 104 points. In Kane’s MVP 2015-2016 season he had 46 goals and 106 points. Kane is not slowing down at 30-years old and continues to be a superstar for the Hawks and a top 10 player in the NHL.
Caggiula has only appeared in two games for the Hawks after being acquired from the Edmonton Oilers for Brandon Manning, and he has not found the scoresheet yet. However, I have liked his game. He has high energy, forechecks hard, does not back down from a shoving match or finishing a check, and has some quick hands and skill. On Sunday night, Caggiula nearly buried a goal on a 2-on-1 opportunity that Penguins goalie, Casey DeSmith, had to make a tough stop on.
On Monday night, he danced around a Flames defender with a behind the back deke and then set up Marcus Kruger with a mini-breakaway (still not sure why Kruger did not shoot). He also found himself out there at the end of the game and set up Artem Anisimov with a pass off the wall that sprung Anisimov to the net on a mini 3-on-1 down low.
Caggiula was a great pickup for Brandon Manning. He is only 24-years old and will fit in nicely on the wing of the third or fourth line the rest of the season.
Delia faced another flurry of shots on Monday night and kept the Hawks within one during a chaotic third period where the Flames had numerous dangerous scoring chances. Here are a couple of his best saves of the night. He stopped 39 out of 42 shots.
Delia is now 3-1-1 in five starts this season. He owns a 2.19 goals-against-average and a 0.947 save percentage. Of course it is only a five game sample, but Delia has looked confident and technically sound this season. When he makes a rare mistake, Delia knows exactly what happened and makes it the focus of his post game interviews. He is humble and expects perfection. He is an exciting goalie prospect for the Hawks who do not know if Corey Crawford will be back in net this season or in the future.
Anisimov has found himself on a line with Kane and Dylan Strome recently. In his past seven games, he has only mustered three assists, seven shots, and has averaged 17:31 minutes on the ice. When you are playing with Kane on a nightly basis, you are expected to produce more than he has. In late November and early December, Anisimov had a stretch of nine games where he was earning his $4.55-million contract. He was not on Kane’s line for most of that nine game stretch and had four goals, two assists, 27 shots on goal, and a +5 rating. I expected his production to increase with Kane, not the other way around. There is definitely chemistry between Strome and Kane, and at times Anisimov. However, it is not on a consistent basis, and even during Monday’s game Colliton started to throw other forwards into Anisimov’s spot on the wing.
Stan Bowman has a decision to make with Anisimov. He has a modified no trade clause (M-NTC) where he is granted the ability to pick ten teams that he would accept a trade to.
Update: Thanks for the info from Paul in the comment section. Bowman also has the option to wait until the summer when Anisimov’s contract updates. The change will take away Anisimov’s ability to decline a trade or only accept a trade to a particular list of ten teams.
Anisimov will either be moved at the deadline to a contender in need of a third line center, traded during the offseason when his NTC is removed, or will remain on the Hawks next season and provide some depth in the top 9 and mentorship to players working their way up the depth chart. Looking forward to seeing what option Bowman chooses.
In Kruger’s past six games, he only has one assist and six shots on goal. He was not signed to be an offensive producer, but plays like passing to a covered man backdoor on a wide open opportunity Monday against the Flames make me question his value on the Blackhawks. Another couple glaring stats that demonstrate Kruger’s regression this season include his 39.3 corsi-for rate in all situations, which is the lowest of his career, and a 46.8 face-off percentage, his lowest since the 2012-2013 season. Kruger is an unrestricted free agent after this season and is making $2.78 million. I would rather see David Kampf or another prospect in the pipeline slide into his fourth line center spot on the depth chart.
Perlini had an impressive Winter Classic. He was firing pucks on net, creating opportunities with his speed and tenacity, and even scored off a one-timer from the slot. However, in his past three games he has barely seen the ice. He has averaged 8:15 minutes and only has four shots. In Monday’s game against Calgary, Perlini only has 7:05 minutes of ice time and barely saw any action in the second and third periods. It is clear that Perlini has some impressive speed and a solid shot, but when he is off his game he turns into a defensive liability that Colliton can not risk putting on the ice late in the game. Perlini is a former first round pick and only 22-years old. He has lots of time to develop and hopefully can turn into a consistent depth scoring option from the third or fourth line in the future.
The Blackhawks battle the Nashville Predators at the United Center on Wednesday night at 7pm. The Preds are 4-0-1 in their last five games and are finally getting healthy. It will be a tough matchup and Nashville will be looking for revenge after a 2-1 victory for the Hawks on December 18th. It will be interesting to see if Delia is back in net on Wednesday night or if Colliton decides to go with Cam Ward who stopped 30 out of 31 shots in the most recent victory over the Preds.