Here’s what feels like the worst part of this Chicago Blackhawks season and, if we’re being honest, probably the last four or five seasons:
There are so few reasons to care about anything happening with this team right now.
This used to be so much fun, man. Starting around 2008, every Blackhawks gameday was its own mini-holiday. Wake up in the morning, seek out a preview somewhere on the internet, catch up on any news items from the morning skate, then finish up the rest of the workday and get home with an eye on the clock, counting down to the opening faceoff. Even though they played 82 regular season games, it took something fairly weighty to bump plans of watching the Hawks off the schedule.
That preferential treatment continued through all three Cup-winning seasons but even a couple seasons after that, as the Patrick Kane/Artemi Panarin show still provided reasons to watch, reasons to wake up in the morning with something to look forward to in the evening because there was a Blackhawks game to watch and, if nothing else, that was enough to make it through the day. And once the game started? Complete immersion. Nothing outside the TV screen mattered.
Now? I can barely tell you anything that happened in the third period of Monday’s game because it was pretty much background noise by that point as I started writing these words.
And that sucks! A lot!
The game is going to be on — it’s always going to be on, whether I’m writing at this site or not — but it doesn’t have the same pull used to have. Watching sports with no emotional investment defeats the whole purpose of watching sports in the first place. The point of all this is devoting what’s probably am irrational amount of attention to something that means nothing and everything at the same time. It’s the same for any hobby or passion or pursuit in life. It’s just that, right now, the return on this emotional investment is at an all-time low.
The Blackhawks are one of the worst (and, perhaps, the worst) possession teams in the league? Don’t care.
Caleb Jones is throwing pucks away leading directly to opposing goals? Fine.
A 35-year-old Jack Johnson skating 20 minutes a night? Go for it.
Jujhar freaking Khaira on the power play? Knock yourselves out.
None of this matters. We’re all just waiting to see if the Blackhawks are going to trade Toews and Kane because the only interesting thing that’s going to happen with the 2022-23 Blackhawks won’t be on the ice.
It’s complete apathy with this team. And that’s why I’ll keep beating this drum until the percussion is busted, because this path the Blackhawks are on sacrifices damn near everything enjoyable about professional sports for better odds at a freaking lottery.
The Week That Was
Sometimes the Kings look like what the Blackhawks could’ve been with better decision-making over the last handful of years. But LA also looks like a team that’s just good enough to make the postseason and lose in the first or second round.
Anyone know what the odds were on Jarred Tinordi scoring twice in a single game this season?
It felt like the Hurricanes never took it out of second gear in this game: just coasted to victory. Must be nice!
That preamble above was one final shout at the rain, I promise. Even the most fervent haters of this current long-term Blackhawks approach must concede the logic behind it. So I begrudgingly will do that here and then move along to something else.
Let’s check in on the Blackhawks’ 5-on-5 possession numbers, per Natural Stat Trick:
- 41.36 percent shot attempt share (CF%), 32nd in the league
- 41.55 percent shot share (SF%), 31st
- 41.24 percent expected goal share (xGF%), 30th
- 39.80 scoring chance share (SCF%), 31st
- 42.92 high-danger chance share (HDCF%), 27th
Those are horrendous numbers. One of the hopes for this season was that new coach Luke Richardson would implement a system that saw some modest improvement in these numbers, even if the team struggled to win because it wouldn’t be able to turn its chances into goals. The latter is happening, but the former is not and we’re up to a decent 15-game sample now. Yes, the Blackhawks already thin roster has been decimated by injuries to its No. 1 defenseman and a top-six forward. But seeing the team at or near the bottom doesn’t inspire confidence in the long-term outlook for what’s being implemented by the coach.
Don’t make the mistake of drawing firm conclusions on Richardson’s abilities behind the bench from this sample, though — just something to keep an eye on as the season unfolds.
The Week That Will Be
Wednesday, Nov. 16 vs. St. Louis Blues
I appreciate Scott Darling’s efforts to trash the city of St. Louis on the postgame show but, given the Blackhawks’ current state of affairs, it just feels ... ill-timed.
Saturday, Nov. 19 at Boston Bruins
The Bruins haven’t lost at home yet this season. Ruh roh.
Sunday, Nov. 20 vs. Pittsburgh Penguins
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to get lost in a YouTube vortex of Marian Hossa highlights.