In my last post I laid out five reasons why the Chicago Blackhawks would repeat. It might have come off as a little far-fetched, but that’s how it was supposed to be. I was only laying out ideal situation of everything.Troy Brouwer was injured in Tuesday night’s game.
If you’re a sports fan you have felt that exact same way before.
Well, I am here now to give you the exact opposite of my last article. Balance is always good.
1.Not Being Able to Handle the Playoff Grind
A lot of NHL players will tell you that going the distance in the playoffs takes a lot out of you. It’s an intense experience for the rookies to the veterans, so a team hoping to win the Stanley Cup needs to be able to play their best for a long time.
That attribute is something this ‘Hawk team has failed to show me.
When the game is a grind and the going gets tough, the ‘Hawks don’t have that second gear. This is evident in the many times the ‘Hawks have failed to win in close games.
Playoff games are mostly close, tough-played games. If the ‘Hawks can’t win these types of games in the regular season, what are the chances of them winning them in the playoffs.
2.A Mediocre Defense
The biggest factor in winning championships is defense. Last year the ‘Hawks had one of, if not, the best defense in the NHL.
While the defense hasn’t been terrible, it hasn’t nearly been good enough to call them great.
The drop-off of production is usually blamed on the lack of depth in the defense, but I believe a major factor was Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook having a terrible season compared to last season.
Keith was the winner of the Norris Trophy last year, an award given to the best defenseman in the league. Kieth recorded 69 points with a plus/minus of 21.
This year Keith, so far, has recorded 42 points and a plus/minus of -2.
Seabrook has seen an increase in points, but has also allowed his plus/minus rating drop to -2 from a +20 last season.
These stats indicate that Keith and Seabrook are allowing players to score on them a lot more than last year.
A top defensive line cannot play this mediocre and expect to be successful in the playoffs.
3.Lack of Depth in Offense
Your heart would tell you that the offense is less explosive this season than last, but when you look at the numbers the ‘Hawks are only 24 goals shy with 3 games left of their 2009-10 total of 271.
So what is the difference?
The difference is many of the scoring is done by the first line. The lack of scoring depth has really hurt the ‘Hawks, especially when the first line has struggled.
The recent lapse in offense can be blamed on the loss of Patrick Sharp to injury. Sharp is the teams leading goal scorer, as well as a vital part of the ‘Hawks’ offense and first line.
The chemistry between Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, and Sharp is one of a kind. Losing him and having to replace him with another play disrupts the chemistry, as well as the offensive production.
It’s pretty evident that the offense success of the ‘Hawks relies solely on the first line. Good teams are able to spread the wealth.
4. Loss of Another Player to Injury
Not only did the ‘Hawks lose to Montreal Tuesday night, but they also loss Troy Brouwer to a shoulder injury.
Brouwer left the game in the third period after he missed a check and hit the boards pretty hard. Brouwer immediately fell down and started grabbing his right shoulder.
The injury could possibly be a serious one. Brouwer looked like he was in a lot of pain, needing help to get up and off the ice.
For the ‘Hawks this is terrible news.
Brouwer has been healthy all season long. Losing him means more change of the lines, but more importantly, a loss in an offensive threat, as well as a big guy who can be a physical threat to opponents.
The offense is already having trouble picking up the slack of injured players, so this injury is a salt in the wound.
5.Dallas Is Threatening
The ‘Hawks have better win at least two out of the next remaining three games because with a Dallas win last night, the Stars are creeping their way into a playoff spot, and it could be the ‘Hawks’ spot.
Dallas has three easy games left. Two against thew Colorado Avalanche and one against the Minnesota Wild. Three much easier games than the ‘Hawks’ remaining schedule, which features St. Louis and Detroit, two teams that always play the ‘Hawks hard.
If the Stars go 3-0-0 and end with 97 points then the ‘Hawks will need to go 2-0-1 and get 98 points.
If the Stars go 2-0-1 and finish with 96 points then the ‘Hawks will need to go 2-1-0 and finish with 97 points.
All in all, these last three games are crucial to the ‘Hawks. With the stagnation of the offense it won’t be easy.