Blackhawks Defensemen Decisions Determining Success

When trying to figure out how the Blackhawks need to be better to be legitimate Cup contenders, there is one statistic that desperately needs to be addressed.

While the team’s goals against average is the obvious area of weakness, another stat shows where the Blackhawks need to improve most.

No, the stat in question isn’t “Sami Lepisto shifts.”

Chicago is the highest scoring team in the Central Division (3.08 goals/game), just ahead of Detroit (3.05) and well ahead of Nashville (2.74) and St. Louis (2.54).

But the Blackhawks are allowing the most goals per game in the division (2.95), well higher than Nashville (2.57), Detroit (2.30) and St. Louis (1.86).

So why do we post the Lepisto video?

The video isn’t intended to add insult to injury for the defenseman, who watched the next 30 minutes after this ugly turnover. It’s more an example of the Blackhawks biggest problem.

The predictability of their outlet passing, and decision making from the blue line, has become an epidemic this season. And this video is a great example of what happens when a defenseman makes a bad pass: a goaltender is left one-on-one with a sniper, a situation that rarely favors the man between the pipes.

When looking at the other three playoff teams in the Central Division that are playoff-bound, the striking statistic is the number of giveaways by defensemen.

Here are the total giveaways by defensemen in the Central:

Detroit 137
St. Louis 131
Nashville 178
Chicago 211

Obviously this difference between the Hawks and the top three teams in the division is significant, and there is no better visual to reinforce the too-frequent result of these turnovers than the Lepisto play on Saturday afternoon.

If the Blackhawks can clean up their zone and turn the puck over less frequently, they’ll not only help one of the league’s best offenses but their goaltenders will take a lot less of the blame for a poor goals against average.

28 thoughts on “Blackhawks Defensemen Decisions Determining Success

  • February 18, 2012 at 6:26 pm

    Excellent points and an excellent example!

  • February 18, 2012 at 8:42 pm


    Whats the breakdown of the turnovers for each Chicago defencemen? Very curious.

  • February 18, 2012 at 8:59 pm

    A must win tomorrow !

  • February 18, 2012 at 9:07 pm

    A very smartly written article .

    How did you think Hayes did today ?

  • February 18, 2012 at 9:47 pm

    That’s a telling statistic; the variance is hard to believe especially considering we still have 3 of our top 4 d-men less than 2 years removed from the Cup. I also think that it bears out how much an excpetional puck-mover like Campbell is missed.

  • February 18, 2012 at 10:03 pm

    @Logan: here’s the breakdown (thru Saturday)

    Hjalmarsson: 39
    Seabrook: 37
    Keith: 37
    Leddy: 34
    O’Donnell: 24
    Montador: 21
    Scott: 8
    Lepisto: 6
    Olsen: 5

  • February 18, 2012 at 10:03 pm

    Flyers just picked up another Dman.

  • February 18, 2012 at 10:24 pm

    The Blackhawks should go for should go for a solid defensive d like Tony Lydman of the Ducks. They could give up Michael Frolick or Rostislav Olesz or both. Maybe throw in a high round draft pick like the 4th or 5th round. Even give up Shawn Lalaonde from the Ice Hogs if you have too. With the top 4 Keith, Seabrook, Leddy and Hjammarrson plus Olsen or Lepisto as #6 and #7 ( Until Montador gets back ) all they need is a good #5. If no Good defense men is available – don’t get one.

    Whatever they do, don’t trade for some old, has been #5 or #6 who is not that great for their current team. Morrison is a good example of getting a washed up player that becomes just another healthy scratch.

  • February 18, 2012 at 10:38 pm

    Thanks, Tab. Thats interesting.

    I went a little further with it…

    Hjalmarsson: 39 TOI/G 20:31
    Seabrook: 37 TOI/G 24:02
    Keith: 37 TOI/G 26:45
    Leddy: 34 TOI/G 22:07
    O’Donnell: 24 TOI/G 13:56
    Montador: 21 TOI/G 14:57
    Scott: 8 TOI/G 7:24 (25 gp)
    Lepisto: 6 TOI/G 11:03 (16 gp)
    Olsen: 5 TOI/G 16:58 (7 gp)

    As you can see it makes Hjalmers look even worse as he’s averaging the least minutes of the top 4 D-men. In fact, he usually tries to feed the pass back to his partner (usually Leddy) for him to carry it up ice. When he actually passes up ice he’s looking for a long pass and a forward breaking over the offensive blueline.

    O’ Donnell’s stands out too as his ice time is half of Keith’s yet his turnovers are more than half of Keith’s…approx. 66%

    As for Keith himself…it would be nice if his icetime was reeled back a bit. It just seems like alot to stay mentally fresh for an entire game.

  • February 18, 2012 at 10:56 pm

    When is Hammer supposed to get back in lineup ? Is it a concussion ?

    Anybody know if Olesen is married ? Hmmmm

  • February 19, 2012 at 1:02 am

    Linda, Olsen is 21, so chances are on your side.

    Well written, interesting breakdown. The Hawk’s playing better without Hjalm is pretty much explained right here. It’s a little disheartening, in truth. Any good D men on the market that are affordable? I’ve heard whispers of Matt Carle, that’s about it.

  • February 19, 2012 at 1:40 am

    Tomorrow the Hawks will see a real hockey team . They will come back down to earth .

    Sorry Chitown . You need a real coach . We had yours & he got run outta town.

    See you tomorrow on Madison Street .

  • February 19, 2012 at 1:45 am

    hawks should try for lubomir visnovsky or dennis wideman. Someone who can move the puck like Brian Cambell did and still stay responsible in his their own end

  • February 19, 2012 at 4:04 am

    @Blues Brother.
    Stop Trolling, this blog is very respectable. Your comments aren’t needed.
    @ Tab
    Thanks for this entire blog. Your doing some great stuff here sir. Keep it up!
    I check this sight daily, #InLove

  • February 19, 2012 at 4:19 am

    Good point on the predictability. I’ve said it on this blog before—I think predictability has hurt the PP the past two seasons, too.

    One thing to consider is the giveaway / takeaway net total. While the Hawks have the most takeaways in the central (of the central teams worth noting), their net takeaway is by far the best.

    DET: 137 / 391 (+254)
    STL: 131 / 350 (+219)
    NSH: 178 / 455 (+277)
    CHI: 211 / 607 (+396)

    The takeaway leaders on the Hawks… no surprise that our leading scorers are 1 & 2 (Toews 79; Hossa 66). Number 3? Hope all the “he’s too Hollywood to try” Patrick Kane haters are sitting down… Kane has 56 takeaways, good enough for #9 in the NHL.

  • February 19, 2012 at 4:21 am

    bad typo in my comment, *most giveaways*

  • February 19, 2012 at 8:21 am

    Tab, luv the stats (as Stats Major)… and tells alot… but not all.

    Yes, a turnover is a turnover, but what the stat doesn’t directly show is where it occurred and how immediate was the result from the T.O.

    For example, Monty’s number actually looks o.k…. but if you actually “replay” alot of those T.O.’s led to immediate and direct A+ scoring chances for the other teams. I can’t think of too many of Seabrook’s leading to those same A+ chances.

    Either way, there is a direct correlation from the T.O.’s to the Goals Against- good job Tab.

  • February 19, 2012 at 9:42 am

    Additionally when you combine the d giveaways with the amount of times our forwards carelessly turn the puck over at the blueline when attempting to enter the o zone the end result has been way too many odd man rushes and the puck ending up in the back of our net. Just real bad team defense.

  • February 19, 2012 at 10:07 am

    Im starting to think we should just go with the defenders we have and focus on getting the second line center so we can move Kruger to the fourth line. Olsen has upside, Montador/Odonnell are ok to rotate at 6 and Hammer should come back and then we just hope our goalies/defense does good enough and we basically outscore teams.

  • February 19, 2012 at 11:08 am

    I agree with Greg Lindgren’s comment above. There is a guy we traded for a $3M minor leaguer. That guy has only 33 giveaways in 57 games and logs over 26 minutes per game on the ice. 40 points, 34 hits and 81 blocked shots, as well as an uncanny ability to move the puck from defense to offense doesn’t hurt either.

  • February 19, 2012 at 11:28 am

    Tab, a friend who is always right on these things, told me this morning that the talk about the Hawks and Leafs discussing Luke Schenn for Mark McNeil is real…what do you know about Schenn? I would hate to give up McNeil for an average DMan…

    Thanks in advance.

  • February 19, 2012 at 2:15 pm

    Respects to BH .

    Deserved to win .

    See you again soon.


  • February 19, 2012 at 2:19 pm

    YES !!!!!!!!

  • February 19, 2012 at 2:47 pm

    Schenn is a big, physical defenseman who puts up similar numbers to Seabrook but makes decisions w/ the puck similar to Leddy. My only question about the Hawks adding Schenn is A) why move McNeill when he’s affordable and under contract for 3 more years, and B) w/ 4 years left on Schenn’s contract at $3.6M per, who leaves this summer? The Hawks would have 6 defensemen under contract on the NHL roster not including Olsen if they dealt for Schenn. I’ve heard the rumors, and talked to people I trust in Toronto, and they haven’t heard anything re: Schenn & Chicago.

  • February 19, 2012 at 5:54 pm

    I don’t know alot about Schenn…
    But Mcneil was unimpressive to me last camp… yes he is scoring in WHL, but doesn’t have a great +/-.

    If Schenn hits like Seabs, and makes decisions like Leddy— move Monty or #4 in a minute.

    Lastly, Olsen is a beast- still rather see Hawks go for 2nd line power forward!

  • February 19, 2012 at 6:22 pm

    Schenn is 6’2″, 230 22 year old defensemen with a salary of $4.6M according to If you go with him, it would be awsome if they could move Monty and his salary. Perhaps throw in one frolik as well. If this year isn’t it, then Schenn would be a good step for the future. With the glimmer of hope Olsen is showing, they would have a big body on each D pairing.

  • February 19, 2012 at 7:14 pm

    Just to correct/add on a few things from CBS’s reporting… Luke Schenn’s cap hit is actually $3.6M, and he has four more seasons after this one on the deal (exp. 2016). His career high is 22 points, established last season. However, last year he was one of only two players in the NHL with 200+ hits and 150+ blocked shots. The other: Brent Seabrook.

  • February 19, 2012 at 10:37 pm

    I would love the Hawks to acquire Schenn. He’s right handed which works well with the left handed heavy Hawks, and he’s plays the type of physical defense that the Hawks have been looking for.

    I’m not in favor of mortgaging the future for a rental or short term fix, but Schenn would be a long term solution for the Hawks as he is signed for 4 more seasons.

    McNeill is no sure thing anymore than most prospects. If Stan has an opportunity to trade McNeill+ for Schenn, I hope he does it.

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