The Blackhawks are defying expectations early on in the season
The bar was set extremely low for the Blackhawks this year. Even Patrick Kane said he’s not sure if the team has many expectations for this year. You know things must be bad if the best player on your team and one of your leaders essentially says the team isn’t good. While this year’s Hawks team might just be very bad the elephant in the room is the matter of just how bad they are and if they will tank. Don’t buy your Conor Bedard jersey’s just yet Blackhawks fans, 7 games in and this team actually looks like they might just scratch a playoff spot.
Let’s face it the Blackhawks are too good to tank
Yes, 7 games is a small sample size but honestly, if you look at the worst teams in the league for the past few years, this Blackhawks team is simply not that. Then take a look at the teams who have gotten off to terrible starts this year. The Arizona Coyotes have 2 wins and have been outscored 29-19. The Anaheim Ducks have looked absolutely terrible, they have one win and have been outscored 32-16. The Blackhawks simply don’t fit into the category that the Ducks and Coyotes are in.
Why was the team expected to tank?
After all the moves Kyle Davidson made in the offseason which included trading away Alex Debrincat, Kirby Dach, and Brandon Hagel and letting Dylan Strome and Dominik Kubalik walk, experts around the league were talking about the Blackhawks possibly having a 50-point season. The team hired a brand new coach in Luke Ricahrdson and handed him a roster that was absolutely designed to land the NO. 1 overall pick or at best a lottery pick.
One who is not familiar with the tanking strategy may ask “why would a team lose games on purpose and essentially throw away the season?” 17 year old Connor Bedard is why. Connor Bedard is the first player ever to be granted exceptional status in the WHL which allowed him. After a shortened season due to the pandemic, Bedard exploded in the 2021-22 season. He became the league’s youngest 50 goal scorer and also notched 100 points becoming the 4th 16 year old in WHL history to net 100 points and the first to do so since 1986. We are talking Connor McDavid level talent here folks he is as real of a deal as it can possibly get.
Connor Bedard was just 15 years old when he was selected to Canada’s national under 18 team which competed in the 2021 IIHF world under 18 tournament. He became just the 3rd 15 year old to represent Canada in that tournament joining Connor Mcdavid and John Tavares as the only ones to do so. Bedard went on to match McDavid’s point total in the same tournament leading them to a gold medal.
What has gone right for the Blackhawks so far
The Blackhawks are recently coming off a 4 game win streak which probably should have went to 5 games if it wasn’t for aforementioned Connor McDavid. The Blackhawks early success can be directly tied to their special teams. As of Wednesday the Hawks penalty kill has been phenomenal. They killed off 20 of their last 21 penalties successfully which includes a 6-6 performance against an absolutely loaded power play for the Florida Panthers. They have already netted 4 short handed goals this year which is already double the total of SHG’s they had last season. Lottery teams usually have terrible special teams, just one more reason why the Blackhawks look like they don’t have the makings of a lottery team.
Another thing that has gone right for the Blackhawks so far this year is that they are taking care of business against the bad teams. The teams first 3 wins came against San Jose, Detroit, and Seattle all teams whom are not expected to be in the playoffs this year. Good teams have to take care of the trash and that is exactly what the Hawks have done so far. They even notched an impressive win over the loaded Florida Panthers.
The jury is still out on the Blackhawks
In no way am I saying that this years Blackhawks team is good and will be in the playoff race come April. Yes they have gotten off to a better than expected start but on paper this team is bad, I mean real bad. Only time will tell if the Chicago Blackhawks will continue to defy expectations but so far they have all the makings of an above average team, a team that will essentially have no chance at winning this years lottery. Kyle Davidson will have to make some serious moves if he wants any chance of landing the generational talent Connor Bedard.
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