As the temperature outdoors goes down, the Blackhawks are heating things up.
In their first six games in December, the Blackhawks rank:
- 2nd in the NHL in power play (6-18, 33.3%)
- 6th (tie) in the NHL in penalty killing (18-20, 90.0%)
- 5th in the NHL in scoring (3.50 goals/gm)
- 12th (tie) in the NHL in goals against (2.67 /gm)
- 10th in the NHL in team save percentage (.917)
This fantastic start to the month has kept the Blackhawks in first place in a red-hot Central Division. Chicago has successfully added 11 of 12 possible points int heir six games.
Entering Thursday’s action, only nine players in the NHL had posted nine points or more in December; three players lead the NHL with 10 points so far this month. Jonathan Toews (five goals, four assists) and Patrick Sharp (five goals, four assists) are two of those nine players. Marian Hossa (four goals, four assists) is right behind them with eight points in six games.
Sharp is tied for the NHL lead with three game-winning goals in December. Meanwhile, Toews has won 58.5 percent of his faceoffs this month. Patrick Kane is tied for eighth in the NHL with six assists in the Hawks’ six games. Hossa’s three power play goals in December are second in the NHL, and Sharp has two as well.
Perhaps the biggest factor in the Blackhawks’ dominance this month has been the emergence of Ray Emery between the pipes. Emery is 4-0-1 in the month with an outstanding .934 save percentage and 1.84 goals against average.
There is, however, one disturbing trend in spite of all of this success. The Blackhawks have played overtime hockey in five of their six games this month, and have already played 11 overtime contests this year. They played only 19 overtime games all of last year.
Because of the number of overtime games, three Blackhawks defensemen rank in the NHL’s top 30 in average ice time in December. Duncan Keith is second in the league (28:11), Nick Leddy is 24th (25:13) and Brent Seabrook is 29th (24:38).
Among forwards, Toews is skating the fourth-highest average amount of ice time per game in December (22:46), and Kane is ninth (21:58).