This year the Central Division is proving to be extremely competitive, leaving the Blackhawks little room for error.
Unfortunately, error is the only consistent thing for the Blackhawks this year. The Blackhawks are now at the bottom looking up at Winnipeg, St. Louis and Nashville. Thankfully the Blackhawks are only 3 points out of a wild card spot as of now and is entirely dependent on when Crawford gets back and if Jeff Glass can keep his play up.
This begs the question, are the Blackhawks truly a last place team?
Without Crawford, the Blackhawks are a last place team. Crawford has been lights out this year flat out stealing wins for the Blackhawks or keeping them in the game long enough to at least get a point.
There’s just one thing, Crawford has been sidelined with injuries.
With no Crawford to guard the net behind a broken defense, it’s hard to see anyone else flopping around in the net. The Blackhawks backup core of Anton Forsberg and Jeff Glass get absolutely peppered by shots every game. Forsberg has been wildly inconsistent and we haven’t seen enough of Jeff Glass yet, although he’s looked better than Forsberg.
It’s hard to blame the backup goalie when the defense can barely do its job.
Richard Panik and Ryan Hartman where a large part of the Blackhawks making a playoff appearance last year, this year its a different story. Panik has been awful, the last time he scored a goal was October 21st and didn’t even register a point in the month of December.
It’s clear that Panik isn’t helping the Blackhawks. Hartman has regressed a bit from last year and tries to be the Andrew Shaw replacement that the Blackhawks don’t need.
To make matters worse Artem Anisimov went down with an injury that will keep him out a few weeks. Now the Blackhawks are out an All-Star goalie and have limited center depth. Schmaltz has been alright at center, he’s much better on the wing in the NHL.
As much as I hate to say it, Saad needs to be better. He had a blistering start to the year and now he’s been mostly quiet. It makes a big difference when Hossa isn’t on the other side.
The Blackhawks power play is 29th in the league and sure makes the Blackhawks look like a last place team. At this point the only thing the power play does is make the other team laugh and makes Blackhawks fans cry. Luckily the penalty kill has been solid unlike last year.
As of right now the Blackhawks still have a chance to pull the season back within reach. If they keep trending down Bowman might have to think about being a seller at the trade deadline.