3 up, 3 down from Blackhawks’ 3-2 OT win against Avalanche

Checking in on who is trending up and down after a victory in Denver.

The Blackhawks have earned at least a point in seven of their last nine games, and have won five straight games against Central Division opponents. The Hawks are playing a lot more confidently, the stars are producing, the power play has converted 7 out of their last 19 attempts, and they have allowed three goals or less in six of their last nine games. It is clear that the Hawks are progressing as a team under Coach Jeremy Colliton, and have begun to find a winning formula even with the backbone of the team, Corey Crawford, out with another concussion. Here is a quick update on the standings.

The Hawks dug themselves a big hole with a disastrous November, but have turned it around lately and are buying into Colliton’s remodeled power play and defensive zone strategies. They have tons of ground to cover before we start talking about the wild card spots, but there has been lots of progress in their game to be excited about.

Let’s check in on who has been trending up and down.

Trending Up

Patrick Kane

Showtime has stepped up. In his last five games he has seven goals, four assists, 18 shots, is averaging 20:41 minutes of ice time, and is controlling the game when he is out there. He is playing with passion and is leading by example. Check out this visualization of how often Kane has been able to create chances in high danger areas of the offensive zone lately.

Kane is on fire right now. Hopefully he puts on a show in the Winter Classic.

Connor Murphy

In Murphy’s last seven games, he has one goal, four assists, is a +3, has seven shots, is averaging 19:45 mins of ice time, and has been sacrificing his face and body to keep the puck out of net. Within that seven game span he has 22 hits and 10 blocks. He has been a refreshing addition to the Hawks defensive core, and has been slotting in nicely as a shut down D with his partner, Carl Dahlström.

Collin Delia

When Corey Crawford got bulldozed by Evander Kane of the San Jose Sharks, no one really knew what to expect for a recovery timeline. Two concussions in less than a year is scary and he should take all the time necessary to figure out his future and get back to 100 percent. Delia has been impressive this season in Rockford, and has played even better in the NHL. He was won three straight starts, and is rocking a 1.66 goals-against-average and a 0.957 save percentage. Delia has been humble with the mic in front of his face and mostly talks about improvements he still needs to make in his game. Check out his post-game interview from last night’s 3-2 OT win.

Additionally, here is an interesting look at his performance in net against the Avs and Minnesota Wild.

Trending Down

Gustav Forsling

Forsling did not perform well last night agains the Avs. He took two tripping penalties that gave the third best power play in the league multiple scoring chances. Mikko Rantanen was able to get the Avs back to within one right before the end of the first period. Then near the end of the second period Brendan Perlini was given a delayed penalty and with the resulting extra attacker, Nathan MacKinnon was able to tie the game. Almost immediately after the game tying goal, Forsling took another tripping call. Forsling’s penalties shifted the momentum of the game towards the Avs both times and the Hawks were lucky to get to the third period still tied. As a result, he barely saw ice time in the third period and ended up with only 13:50 minutes, which is the lowest of his season.

Brandon Saad

Saad has been fighting a recent slump in production. Over his last seven games, he only has two goals and zero assists. Both of those goals came against the Wild. As a top line winger playing with Jonathan Toews, he is expected to produce. There are games where Saad is noticeably on fire - driving possession, taking loads of shots, and setting up plays in the O zone with his puck protection skills and hockey IQ. Lately, he has not been consistent with his style of play. There are spurts of it, but the Hawks will need Saad to get back to playing consistent hockey if they want to continue to ride this positive streak.

David Kampf

Kampf has been slotted in as the third line defensive center. However, in his last seven games he has been regressing at the face-off dot with a winning percentage of 36.6. If he wants to continue to play the role of a top 9 shut down center, he needs to improve his face-off numbers significantly. Additionally, we have seen some bursts of speeds and impressive drives to the net from Kampf. If he can improve his face-off numbers and can create some offensive pressure once or twice every game, the Hawks have found their third line center of the future.

What’s Next

The Winter Classic. Hawks vs Bruins outdoors. Original Six matchup. 2013 Stanley Cup Final rematch. New Year’s Day. Norte Dame Stadium. It’s going to be a memorable day.

Go Hawks!