With 21 games in the books, let’s look back at the first quarter of the Blackhawks 2014-15 season.
Entering Tuesday’s action, the Blackhawks sit in third place in the Central Division with 25 points.
As you can see from the standings, the Hawks have scored the most goals in the division (63) and have the best goal differential (+19).
Looking league-wide, the Hawks have performed well in the first quarter of the season. Chicago ranks in the top ten in the league in goals per game (2.86 – tied with Dallas for seventh in the NHL) and goals against per game (2.10 – third). They lead the league in shots on net per game (36.1) and rank sixth in shots against per game (27.9). The Hawks are also the league leaders in Corsi For Percentage (56.88), and trail only Minnesota (56.9) in Shots For Percentage (56.47) in all situations.
And, even with both Corey Crawford and Antti Raanta missing time already this season, the Blackhawks rank fourth in the NHL in team save percentage (.925).
Even though the power play has been the source of plenty of frustration early on, the Hawks are tied for tenth in the league at 20 percent to date. Unfortunately, the Hawks have allowed a league-leading four short-handed goals against already.
Chicago is the only team in the league with a penalty kill above 90 percent so far (90.3). They’re tied with eight other teams for sixth in the league with two short-handed goals for, while only allowing six power play goals against. The Hawks have allowed a power play goal against in only five of their first 21 games.
But looking back through the first 21 games, the Hawks have performed relatively well against the opponents on the schedule.
On 11 occasions, the Hawks have held their opponent to fewer shots on goal than their current season average. Chicago has only been out-shot five times, three of which have come in their last five contests.
Eight of the Hawks’ first 21 games have come against a team in the league’s top ten in goals scored per game Chicago has limited their opponent to fewer goals than their league average in five of those eight games.
The Hawks haven’t been healthy yet, either. Patrick Sharp has missed eight games already, while Andrew Shaw has missed three. Kris Versteeg has been a pleasant surprise with 14 points in 17 games after missing time early in the season, and rookie defenseman Trevor vanRiemsdyk looked great before his season ended early.
Chicago is still searching for continuity with their third defensive pair in the wake of vanRiemsdyk’s injury; rookie Adam Clendening has played in the last two games, while Michal Rozsival has played in 11 games and David Rundblad has seen action in nine contests.
As you can see from the charts below (created at HockeyAbstract.com), how coach Joel Quenneville has deployed his defensemen this year has some similarities to last season.
Among defensemen, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook are tied with four other players – PK Subban, Trevor Daly, Sami Vatanen and Nick Leddy – for sixth with five goals scored.
Jonathan Toews ranks sixth in the league in faceoff percentage (57.4), and has been to the dot 464 times, the fourth highest total in the league. Toews has won 74 faceoffs on the power play, the highest total in the league; Antoine Vermette and Tyler Bozak rank second with 55 each. Toews has won 69.2 percent of his faceoffs on the power play this season.
Toews and Patrick Kane are tied for the team lead with 18 points each, but neither rank among the top 30 in the league. Half of Kane’s points have come on the power play. Kane’s three game-winning goals are tied with ten other players for second in the league behind only Lars Eller’s four.
Four Blackhawks – vanRiemsdyk, Clendening, Phillip Danault and Scott Darling – have made their NHL debut so far this season. Joakim Nordstrom, who played 16 games with the Hawks last year and was named the captain of the IceHogs earlier this season, has now appeared in four games since being recalled as well.
In net, Corey Crawford has been solid to begin the season. He currently ranks third in goals against average (1.98) and is tied for fifth in the league in save percentage (.926). He has one shutout, and has stopped all six shooters he’s faced in the shootout to date.