Heading into the 2019-20 season, the Blackhawks were looking for top players like Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews to duplicate their offensive success from last year and get more secondary scoring support. Things haven't been going as planned overall.
Kane, who had a career year in points (110) and assists (66) last season, is still producing at a high level with 46 points (20 goals, 26 assists) in 38 games this season. As the different linemates he's played with struggled to find offense at times, "Showtime" often created it out of thin air.
Toews, totaled his best year in goals (35), assists (46) and points (81) last season. His offensive production is down this year with 27 points (eight goals, 19 assists) in 38 games, but that's largely due to the captain having to focus on defense as newcomers like Alex Nylander were thrown out on the top line besides Toews and struggled defensively.
The 2010 Conn Smythe trophy winner is helping his line establish possession through winning 56.79% of his faceoffs. Toews seems to be able to make room for more offense lately with recent line shuffles.
Nylander, who has five goals and nine assists in 37 games with the Hawks, has gotten plenty of opportunities to be a difference maker. After coming over from Buffalo in a trade for Henri Jokiharju, formerly a top defensive prospect for the Hawks, Nylander's defense has regularly been a concern and, although there's been flashes of high-level skill in playmaking, he needs to find a way to put everything together on a consistent basis.
Another newcomer for Chicago, Dominik Kubalik, has underachieved with just 10 goals and six assists because he's been underutilized until recently. Kubalik's offensive talents and heavy shot were regularly buried in a bottom-six role instead of on the top line where he belongs, as well as the first power-play unit.
Despite being up and down the lineup through the midway point of the season, Brandon Saad was the most consistent forward before suffering an ankle injury in Winnipeg on Thursday. Strong on the puck and power-striding past defenders on a regular basis, Saad has 19 points (eight goals, 11 assists) in 36 games and looks most at home besides Toews on the top line.
Ryan Carpenter signed with the Hawks as a free agent after playing two seasons in Vegas. Carpenter has been one of the most consistently good Hawks this season. The forward has been a great shutdown player and clutch penalty killer.
The same can be said for former Ottawa Senator alternate captain Zack Smith, who although effective defensively and on the PK, needs to resurrect his scoring touch. Smith had 25 goals during the 2015-16 season with the Senators.
DeBrincat and Strome are the Hawks forwards that need to pick it up the most. Last year, the pals from the OHL's Eerie Otters had great chemistry together on the Hawks' second line and they looked pretty good playing with Patrick Kane as well. DeBrincat finished the 2018-19 season with a stellar 41 goals and Strome with a solid 51 points.
This season, DeBrincat has found himself in a scoring rut. The winger only has eight goals in 38 games and had a 12-game stretch from Nov. 9 to Dec. 2 without a goal.
Strome's 24 points aren't far off from last year's pace, but he needs to help generate more offense and improve on the dot. Right now he's winning 44.2% of his draws. The center missed four games while in concussion protocol this season.
Andrew Shaw and Drake Caggiula have missed considerable time in concussion protocol. Caggiula has missed 21 games and Shaw's been out for 12. Caggiula played the role of agitator and energy provider well when in the lineup, even managing to score three goals.
Shaw, also with three goals, has to dig deeper to be the point provider he's capable of being if/when he returns. The feisty winger had a career year in Montreal last season with 47 points (19 goals, 28 assists).
No. 3 overall pick, center Kirby Dach, has the tools to be a great player for the Hawks for years to come. His six goals in 32 games aren't bad, but he needs to improve his work in the dot upwards from the 35% of faceoffs he's winning.
Dach's been able to use his reach while possessing the puck to keep defenders at bay. He's also shown quick hands and an ability to get to open areas, looking to score.
Like the majority of the other Blackhawks forwards with skill, it's a matter of putting it all together on a consistent basis. Dach does have the excuse of being youthful (18) and inexperienced.
The Hawks forwards are 22nd in the league in Goals For with 104, behind the Ottawa Senators (106). Chicago is also tied with the Senators for Goals Against with 121. Blackhawks forwards who are leaned on to score like DeBrincat haven't been getting the job done on the power play either. The Hawks power play is 26th in the league, converting at a low 15.3%.
The defensemen aren't the only ones responsible for the high shot totals and innumerable odd-man rushes goalies Robin Lehner and Corey Crawford have regularly had to defend all year so far. The forwards have also blown a lot of coverage and had trouble getting the puck out of the Blackhawks' end.
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