Blackhawks

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Blackhawks

The Blackhawks have had a roller coaster year. Playoffs seemed so far away at one point, then they climbed back, got kicked down again and now they're back in business one last time. 

With exactly three weeks left in the regular season, the Blackhawks find themselves five points out of a playoff spot with a game in hand. How has this happened?

It all started on Jan. 20 when they snapped a five-game losing streak in an 8-5 win over the defending Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals on national television that featured dueling five-point outings by Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, who were reunited as linemates. It served as a springboard for the Blackhawks' second-half surge. 

Let's dive into the numbers and break down what's behind it all, courtesy of naturalstattrick.com. Since Jan. 20...

— The Blackhawks have the best points percentage (.727) and most wins (16) of any Western Conference team. In the 49 games before that, they had the worst points percentage (.418) and fewest wins (16) of any NHL team.

— The Blackhawks have a plus-14 goal differential at 5-on-5; they had a minus-21 goal differential in their previous 49 games.

— The Blackhawks rank No. 1 in the league with 94 goals (4.27 per game); they had previously ranked 14th with 145 goals (2.96).

— The Blackhawks have the best 5-on-5 shooting percentage at 10.6; their percentage before that was 7.7, which ranked 23rd.

 

— The Blackhawks have converted on 25.0 percent of their power plays, which ranks fifth-best; they previously had a power-play percentage of 18.9, which ranked 17th.

— The Blackhawks' goaltenders have a high-danger 5-on-5 save percentage of .859 which ranks fifth; their high-danger save percentage previously was .843, which ranked 10th.

—  Four different Blackhawks have averaged more than a point per game: Patrick Kane (1.55), Alex DeBrincat (1.46), Jonathan Toews (1.32) and Dylan Strome (1.27). They had only one before that: Kane (1.35).

— Duncan Keith has a plus-19 rating in the last 22 games, which ranks No. 1 among all NHL skaters over that span. He had a minus-8 rating in his previous 49 games.

The most common theme? The Blackhawks are scoring at a ridiculous rate and have gotten contributions from everyone, specifically their top players.

The one thing that hasn't changed, however: The Blackhawks remain atop the league in high-danger chances allowed. That was the case before and after their second-half push. The difference between then and now is that the Blackhawks are outscoring their problems.

Whether that's a formula for sustained success is debatable, but it's a larger fix that, at this point, will have to come in the offseason and next year going into Jeremy Colliton's first training camp as the Blackhawks' head coach. The focus is still on the process over the results, but the stretch run has arrived and the Blackhawks are trying to do everything in their power to sneak into the playoffs.

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