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Number Munchers: Revisiting Blackhawks’ 2019-20 regular season performance

Forgotten about the statistical details of the ‘19-20 Blackhawks? We’re here to help.

Second City Hockey

With NHL training camps in full swing across the League, we’re back to continuing our month-long quest to remind ourselves who the 2019-20 Blackhawks were because, if you’re anything like us, you have a hard time remembering anything that happened before March.

After opening this venture with some player-focused articles, now seems like a good time to take a few steps back and view through a team-wide lens. In order to do that, we brought back our old Number Munchers series to see how this team performed during its abbreviated 70-game regular season.

All numbers below via Natural Stat Trick.

Team numbers during 5-on-5 play

Since five-on-five is the most common hockey situation, we’ll start with how the Blackhawks fared during those moments:

Corsi Events For Percentage (CF%): 48.45 (22nd)
Goals For Percentage (GF%): 50.0 (18th)
Expected Goals For Percentage (xGF%): 46.93 (27th)
Scoring Chances For Percentage (SCF%): 47.46 (27th)
High-Danger Chances For Percentage (HDCF%): 45.75 (29th)
Shots For Percentage (SF%): 47.46 (27th)

Oh, that’s right.

The Blackhawks were too often on the negative side of possession metrics, resulting in a typical Chicago game seeing the team both out-shot and out-chanced. It’s a good thing the Blackhawks had two excellent goalies for much of those 70 games, because the play from Corey Crawford and Robin Lehner were necessities to keep the team competitive in the majority of its games.

Switching from percentage-based stats to rate-based stats, the numbers start to look, well ... just make sure you’re sitting down before you scroll:

Corsi Events Against Per 60 minutes (CA/60): 59.54 (25th)
Goals Against Per 60 (GA/60): 2.61 (22nd)
Expected Goals Against Per 60 (xGA/60): 2.64 (league worst)
Scoring Chances Against Per 60 (SCA/60): 30.22 (league worst)
High-Danger Chances Against Per 60 (HDCA/60): 12.91 (league worst)
Shots-Against Per 60 (SA/60): 34.82 (league worst)

Did the Blackhawks offense have any statistical categories where it stood out?

Answer: Not enough to make you forget the numbers above.

Corsi Events For Per 60 (CF/60): 55.96 (13th)
Goals For Per 60 (GF/60): 2.61 (13th)
Expected Goals Per 60 (xGF/60): 2.34 (t-11th)
Scoring Chances Per 60 (SCF/60): 27.3 (10th)
High-Danger Chances Per 60 (HDCF/60): 10.89 (13th)
Shots Per 60 (SF/60): 30.97 (13th)

If I can offer one positive piece of statistical data, it is this visualization from Money Puck:

What you’re seeing above is the Blackhawks’ rolling five-game average for xGF% since the calendar flipped to 2020. The graph bottoms out during Chicago’s 2-1 overtime win against the Predators on Feb. 21 and then steadily trends upward. The Blackhawks’ record during that upward trend? 6-4.

But it’s hard to glean much optimism from an upward trend that was halted four months ago. Momentum likely won’t carry over one-third of the calendar.

Special Teams

Penalty Kill — 82.1% (9th)

This was a marked improvement, considering the PK was at a league-worst 72.7% in ‘18-19 and ranked 21st at 79.5 percent in early November.

Shepard Price detailed the reasons for this improvement last week, so we won’t spend much time on it here.

Power Play — 15.2% (28th)

Look, we’ve already been through enough while examining the even-strength numbers. I know the power play was bad, you know the power play was bad, the Blackhawks know the power play was bad, EVERYONE KNOWS THE POWER PLAY WAS BAD. So let’s not discuss it anymore.

5-on-5 Goal Differential

One final statistic needs to be examined with an eye towards the upcoming qualifier series against the Oilers.

Blackhawks

5-on-5 Goals For: 147 (14th)
5-on-5 Goals Against: 147 (23rd)
5-on-5 Goal Differential: 0 (18th)

Oilers

5-on-5 Goals For: 141 (18th)
5-on-5 Goals Against: 157 (t-28th)
5-on-5 Goal Differential: -16 (25th)

Edmonton’s success was spearheaded by its top-ranked power play (29.5%). If there’s one area where the Blackhawks can exploit the Oilers, it’ll be during five-on-five play. They’ll need to take much better care of the puck than they did in the regular season to do so.