Blackhawks head coach Jeremy Colliton has always preached focusing on the performance and letting the results take care of itself. Over time, water eventually finds its level.
The Blackhawks are a hard team to figure out.
When they're clicking, the Blackhawks look like a group that can compete with anyone because they can outscore any opponent and win the goaltending battle with either Corey Crawford or Robin Lehner between the pipes. When they're not, they look like a team that's closer to the basement of the NHL than the playoff bubble.
Take the past four games as an example.
The Blackhawks outshot the defending Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues 38-30 but lost 4-0 in a game that didn't feel very close. Then they went to Boston, where they knocked off the NHL's best team 4-3 in overtime despite squandering a three-goal lead in the third period.
Next up was New Jersey, where the Blackhawks and lowly Devils looked to be on the same playing field before the visiting team won 2-1 in a shootout. And on Sunday, the Blackhawks led 30-24 in even-strength scoring chances but racked up 27 penalty minutes and it proved to be the difference in a 4-3 shootout loss to the Arizona Coyotes, who are now tied for the Pacific Division lead.
It's challenging to evaluate who the Blackhawks are as a team because it changes on a nightly basis. So who are they?
"Well for now that is what we are," Colliton said. "We're inconsistent. And it's up to us to commit to doing the things shift-to-shift that will allow us to turn into something more. Simple as that."
The good news for the Blackhawks is only four points separate themselves from the second wildcard spot in the Western Conference. The bad news is the numbers show they're exactly where they should be.
As of Sunday, the Blackhawks have a PDO — a metric that combines on-ice shooting percentage and save percentage — of 100.7 during 5-on-5 play, according to Natural Stat Trick. The league average is 100, which suggests this is who the Blackhawks are through 30 games.
"We've just got to keep building on it," Robin Lehner said. "We got a point today, this time we've just got to respond. Next game is the most important game of our season because we've got to keep getting points here now."
Sunday marked the start of another tough stretch where the Blackhawks play seven of the next eight games against teams currently sitting in a playoff spot, all of whom are in the Western Conference, which only heightens the importance of these games.
The Blackhawks will take it one game at a time, but which team shows up for each of them is anybody's guess.
"They're all big," Colliton said of the next game. "It is important how we respond. Because we've had this up and down with our game and we can't expect to get where we want to go if that continues. ... You can have off nights, but then it's how you respond. So we got to respond."
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