We've Been Through This: Blackhawks November Monthly Preview
I did these last year and meant to write one up for October but just forgot with the start of the actual season. These will be up hopefully on the final day of every month..
As for October though, there were plenty of ups and downs - the Hawks are off to the best start in a long time, they're coming into November in first place in the central, Kane is playing above where even some of his biggest fans thought he'd be right now and despite a shaky start, Huet has put together 4 solid starts in a row.
Of course there's bad too - injuries are a growing concern, even with a roster we all thought was pretty deep going into the year. The biggest injury obviously being to the Captain... who doesn't seem like he'll be returning anytime soon. The 4th line is patchwork at best without Eager or Burish. We're still figuring out if Tomas Kopecky is worth anything at all and for the record I'm not sold that he's a complete waste yet.
November will be much more of a challenge with the annual circus trip to California and Canada. The Hawks will be facing much harder competition as well with almost every game against a team with a winning record so far and two games against Colorado who have been one of the hottest teams going so far.
Hit the jump for more numbers and discussion.
Home Games: 4
Road Games: 8
Games Against Teams Over .500: 9
Central Division Games: 0
Longest Road Trip: Circus Trip - From Nov. 19th to the end of the month the Hawks will play 6 games on the road, Canada down to Cali
Sets of Back-to-back Games: 3 - Yotes and Avs to start it off this week, Oilers and Canucks on the 21st/22nd, Ducks and Kings to end it all the 27th/28th
Games to look forward to: The two games against the Avalanche should be interesting given how well they're playing right now. The Avs are 10-3-2 but remember - the Hawks are responsible for one of those OTLs.
The annual circus trip got a lot more interesting after last year now that the Hawks get to play the Flames and Canucks again. After the outrageous comeback against the Flames and the tough loss to the Canucks (not to mention Willie Mitchell's hit on Toews) means we're likely to see two hard fought tough games in Canada plus the Oilers thrown in there for good measure.
And on November 13th we get another Original 6 Match-Up when the Leafs come into town, possibly still looking for their 2nd win of the year.
ON PACE FOR
Record Of: 51-25-6 (108 Points)
4 points higher than last year - and just for the record the Hawks historical high in points was only 107 in the 70/71 and 71/72 seasons... 108 points will be insanely difficult and I would never put money on it.. but it would be a shit load of fun.
Most Goals: Patrick Sharp - 38
Sharp is an interesting case - we've all talked about his coasting and lack of production but this would only be 2 goals higher than his career best which shouldn't be out of the question. Sharp has been a pretty streaky player but netting 5 goals in 6 games then going 6 games without is going to drive us all insane.
Most Points: Patrick Kane - 76
With 12 points, Kane is close to finally being the point per game player we've suspected he might be. Add Hossa, Toews or Sharp to his line instead of Buff and Madden then Kane's numbers will only get better. If the power play ever gets off the ground then the numbers go up again - anyone think we could see a 100 point season if things go right?
Most PIM: Andrew Ladd - 145
Yeah - that's not going to happen. Ladd's numbers are obviously inflated due to the misconduct against the Habs. Ladd's never had more than 50 PIM in a year and only had 113 coming into this year. With Eager and Burish both out there isn't a clear leader in PIMs just yet though if Eager can make it back soon and keep his brain in tact I'm sure he'll start to run off with that stat..
Most Hits: Troy Brouwer -246
Brouwer is averaging 3 hits a night - if this pace keeps up I think Madden might have a little competition for newest man-crush in this city.
Most Blocked Shots: Duncan Keith - 183
Sam mentioned in the Indian on Friday that Keith is having an odd year and this is just another example. Keith is facing a lot of shots and is getting in the way of a lot of them too. 183 is extremely high but Keith came close with 148 in the '06/'07 season. Blocking a ton of shots and logging even more ice time is not a welcome sight - Keith's stats need to be watched closely this year.