This season has been a hell of a rollercoaster ride for the Blackhawks and their fans. At one point, the Blackhawks had the worst record in the NHL and were projected to land the 1st overall pick in the 2019 NHL Draft. Luckily, for our sake and sanity, the Blackhawks have turned things around. The team is currently riding a 7 game winning streak and making a push for the playoffs.
Kane has a 14 game point streak and the #Blackhawks have a 7 game winning streak. LET’S GO!
— ✶ ✶Tony G✶ ✶ (@Certified_TonyG) February 10, 2019
Although the obvious players to pin the Blackhawks turnaround on are Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, they have had help from some new and old faces this season. Let’s take a closer look at the players who are key contributors and deserve to be recognized.
NHL point leaders
Kane CHI 6 G, 10 A 16 pts
Toews CHI 7 G, 7 A 14 pts
DeBrincat CHI 4 G, 10 A 14 pts
Strome CHI 4 G, 10 A 14 pts
Aho CAR 3 G, 9 A 12 pts
Marchand BOS 2 G, 10 A 12 pts#Blackhawks
— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) February 11, 2019
Blackhawks Who Are Bringing It
Let’s start off with the newest additions to the team. StanBo is taking the whole New Year, New Me thing pretty seriously and has surprisingly made some good trades this season. The first of which sent Nick Schmaltz to the Arizona Coyotes for Dylan Strome and Brendan Perlini.
Dylan Strome has brought stability and production to the 2nd line center position. I honestly can’t remember the last time a Blackhawks 2nd line center has provided this much production. He is only 21 years old and has another year left on his rookie contract. Everyone should make an effort to enjoy this great production on a VERY team friendly contract while it lasts.
— ✶ ✶Tony G✶ ✶ (@Certified_TonyG) February 11, 2019
Right now, Strome has 30 points in 32 games with the Blackhawks and he’s had some help from a familiar face from his past, Alex DeBrincat.
.@stromer19 says he’s having more fun than it looks like, and we agree…
WINNING IS FUN. pic.twitter.com/aTEWdLlNsM
— BlackhaWWWWWWWks Talk (@NBCSBlackhawks) February 11, 2019
Speaking of fun, Dylan Strome is having fun with his linemates Alex DeBrincat and Dominik Kahun. Strome and DeBrincat are playing Otter their minds. During their 3 seasons as teammates on the Erie Otters, Strome helped DeBrincat score over 100 points every season.
Since teaming up again in Chicago, Dylan Strome and Alex DeBrincat have recaptured their chemistry from their Erie Otter days with ease. The third player on the Blackhawks 2nd line has also played a significant role.
Dominik Kahun is in his first season with the Blackhawks. He has played with a few different linemates this season, but I think he has finally found his home. Jeremy Colliton has placed Kahun on the 2nd line with Strome and DeBrincat, which has played out perfectly. Kahun’s repertoire complements the explosiveness of Strome and DeBrincat. Not only is Dominik a great passer, but he also skates really well and has a respectable defensive aspect to his game.
Scor Goal Assi Shot Ice Season Age Tm Lg GP G A PTS +/- PIM EV PP SH GW EV PP SH S S% TSA TOI ATOI FOW FOL FO% BLK HIT TK GV Awards 2018-19 23 CHI NHL 56 11 16 27 7 0 10 1 0 1 15 1 0 95 11.6 149 806 14:24 15 24 38.5 18 10 17 15 Career 1 yr NHL 56 11 16 27 7 0 10 1 0 1 15 1 0 95 11.6 149 806 14:24 15 24 38.5 18 10 17 15
As the Blackhawks once elite defensemen slowly fade out, Erik Gustafsson has stepped up in their absence and taken his play to the next level. Gustafsson has upped his scoring and has been making strides on his defensive play. He has also quarterbacked the power play to perfection since becoming a fixture on the PP1 unit.
I recently calculated the scoring pace for all Blackhawks players currently on the roster. When you look at my projections, it paints a much clearer and vivid picture of how the team has been finding ways to win. The amount of career high paces is extremely impressive and refreshing to see, as the Blackhawks gradually move into a new era of hockey with a new core of players.
Duncan Keith 3-30—33
David Kampf 5-21—26*
Marcus Kruger 7-9—16
Gustav Forsling 7-19—26*
Connor Murphy 7-16—23*
Carl Dahlstrom 0-23—23*
Drake Caggiula 14-21—35*
John Hayden 6-2—8
Brendan Perlini 9-9—18
Chris Kunitz 3-7—10
Slater Koekkoek 0-0—0
— ✶ ✶Tony G✶ ✶ (@Certified_TonyG) February 10, 2019
Last, but certainly not least, is Collin Delia — he’s kind of a big deal. Since joining the Blackhawks, he has provided a steady option between the pipes. Overall, he has posted a solid stat line, as his record stands at 6-2-3 with a 2.98 GAA. Growing pains come with the territory as a rookie, but Delia has shown flashes of brilliance as well. The Blackhawks agree, because they gave him a 3-year extension with an AAV of $1 mil.
— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) February 11, 2019
We may very well be looking at the goalie of the future for the Blackhawks and the future is in good hands with Collin Delia.
The True Source of the Blackhawks’ Resurgence
In my opinion, the biggest reason for the Blackhawks recent resurgence has been their power play. A once lifeless unit has now risen from the depths and has now become a Top 10 unit in the NHL.
On December 18th, the #Blackhawks power play ranked 31st in the NHL.
On February 11th, the Blackhawks power play ranks 10th.
— Slavko Bekovic (@SBekovic) February 11, 2019
This can be largely attributed to Jeremy Colliton and Sheldon Brookbank. They brought their schemes with them from Rockford and have executed them to perfection. Plus, they finally have the right players out there.
Blackhawks That Deserve Another Look
There are a few Blackhawks that maybe haven’t produced as well as they had hoped, or were projected to. Let’s start off with perhaps the most obvious of all, Dylan Sikura. Heading into training camp, he was pegged to make the NHL roster. Things ended up not working out and he was sent to Rockford for some seasoning. Sikura is leading the IceHogs in goals scored (13) and points (30) this season.
Well, it looks like he is going to get another chance to showcase his abilities. The Blackhawks called up Dylan Sikura on Monday to replace the injured David Kampf. Sikura is expected to start in the next game against the Boston Bruins.
Dylan Sikura will play tomorrow vs. Boston. Chris Kunitz’s 1,000th NHL will come Thursday vs. New Jersey. #Blackhawks
— Charlie Roumeliotis (@CRoumeliotis) February 11, 2019
Brendan Perlini has gotten looks, but not in the right situations. Since being acquired with Dylan Strome in the Nick Schmaltz trade, he has been misused. Between being healthy scratched for Chris Kunitz, of all people, and getting stuck on the 4th line, Perlini has become somewhat of an afterthought. I really believe that there is a ton of untapped potential in Perlini. It’s just a matter of getting ice time and being deployed in the correct situations. Personally, I’d like to see what he can offer on the power play. Perlini does have a nice shot, so why not give the guy more opportunities to show it off?
Darren Raddysh is an interesting name to keep an eye on in the next few weeks. Raddysh was also a teammate of Dylan Strome and Alex DeBrincat while playing for the Erie Otters. Raddysh has been a pleasant surprise for the IceHogs this season. Through 51 games, he has 26 points (8G, 18A) with a 5± rating. The former OHL Defenseman of the Year could be a candidate for a late season call up.
— BlackhaWWWWWWWks Talk (@NBCSBlackhawks) January 31, 2019
Other potential call-ups:
- Henri Jokiharju
- Anthony Louis
- Victor Ejdsell
The Blackhawks are in a very interesting position right now and are in total control of their destiny. They keep winning which is keeping them very much alive in the Western Conference wild card race. There are 4 teams ahead of the Blackhawks in the wild card standings and they need just 4 points to claim 1 of the 2 spots. As we approach the Trade Deadline on 2/25, there are still plenty of trade possibilities for the Blackhawks.
This team has me totally fired up right now with the way they keep finding ways to win games. Honestly, this team is just a Top 4 defenseman and a Top 6 forward away from being a shoo-in come playoff time. Do you fully trust StanBo & Co. to make the right moves at the deadline this season? They have been shockingly good lately. I guess we’ll have to wait and see how the cards unfold.
For more Blackhawks news and updates, follow the author @Certified_TonyG on Twitter.