Blackhawks

By the numbers: What's behind the Blackhawks' second half surge

blackhawks_usa_today.jpg
USA TODAY

By the numbers: What's behind the Blackhawks' second half surge

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.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Blackhawks easily on your device.

Blackhawks 'mutually agree to part ways' with assistant coach Don Granato

don_granato_usa_today.jpg
USA TODAY

Blackhawks 'mutually agree to part ways' with assistant coach Don Granato

The Blackhawks announced Wednesday that they have mutually agreed to part ways with assistant coach Don Granato. He was hired on June 15, 2017 and spent two seasons with the team.

“We appreciate Don’s contributions to the Blackhawks organization while on the staff,” head coach Jeremy Colliton said in a statement. “We wish him well in the future as he pursues other opportunities.”

The move allows Colliton to handpick his second assistant coach with Sheldon Brookbank remaining on the staff. The responsibilities between Brookbank and Granato were shared this season, but that's likely to change going into next season to a more traditional structure of one assistant coach handling the forwards and power play and the other the defensemen and penalty kill.

One potential candidate to fill the vacant position could be Derek King, who was on Colliton's staff with the Rockford IceHogs and served as the interim head coach for the remainder of the season after Colliton got promoted to Chicago. King is viewed as a player's coach and is well-respected within the organization.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Blackhawks easily on your device.

Hawks Talk Podcast: Evaluating Blackhawks defensemen prospects with Mark Eaton

henri_jokiharju_ap.jpg
AP

Hawks Talk Podcast: Evaluating Blackhawks defensemen prospects with Mark Eaton

On the latest edition of the Hawks Talk Podcast, Blackhawks director of player development Mark Eaton joins the show to evaluate the organization’s top defensemen prospects and where each of them is at in their developments. Which ones could make the NHL jump next season?

Pat Boyle and Charlie Roumeliotis offer their takeaways from the Eaton interview and outlook the Blackhawks blue line group as a whole.

1:00 – Eaton on Henri Jokiharju’s development

3:30 – Adam Boqvist’s growth in North America

6:50 – Evaluating Nicolas Beaudin’s progression

8:15 – Surprised about Ian Mitchell’s decision to return to college?

10:55 – Assessing Chad Krys in college and AHL

13:10 – Challenge between stressing defensive side of game but not taking away from who the player is

15:55 – Which defensemen prospects could be in NHL next season?

18:25 – The message Erik Gustafsson’s breakout season sends to prospects

21:15 – Takeaways from Eaton interview

31:25 – Reviewing Blackhawks defensemen contracts

33:35 – Thoughts on Gustav Forsling

35:20 – The challenge for Blackhawks defense this offseason

Listen to the entire podcast here or in the embedded player below.

Blackhawks Talk Podcast

Subscribe:

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Blackhawks easily on your device.