After finishing sixth in the Central Division, the Chicago Blackhawks and their fans experienced a disappointing season. While in a rebuild like other teams are, they still needed to perform at their best, and this season was not their best.
The Blackhawks ranked last in both expected goals percentage (43.96 percent) and high-danger chances (42.6 percent). As they focus on their younger players, they still miss that special spark to ignite them into making the postseason. Missing players like Jonathan Toews, Brent Seabrook, and Alexander Nylander certainly didn’t do the team any favors.
By the Numbers
Power Play: 21.71 (11th in the league)
Penalty Kill: 76.82 (28th in the league)
Goals For: 161
Goals Against: 186
No one can deny that Patrick Kane did a lot for the team as usual. Kane was on a great pace as he accumulated 66 points through 56 games, with those points coming from 15 goals and 51 assists. He’s also the fourth Blackhawks player to record 400 points, and it came in February during a game against the Detroit Red Wings. It’s interesting to note that once his performance started to slow down, so did the team.
One might be able to make the argument that the entire season was the biggest disappointment. Of course, not making the playoffs is crushing, but missing players and the decline in performance near the end of the season contributed to the disappointment. With all its new parts, the team still has holes to fill and improvements to make before they can be ready for a postseason run.
Behind the Bench Analysis
Jeremy Colliton did the best he could with the players and team he had. Having said that, it’s still no excuse for the poor showing in the division. He seemed to rely too heavily on players like Kane, but what could he do when you have a team full of youngsters. There is definite room for improvement, especially if he wants to keep his job. If the Blackhawks could fire a coach like Joel Quenneville, then they can fire Colliton.
Front Office Analysis
Stan Bowman gets a lot of criticism for what he’s done. However, with the recent trade deadline, he made several moves that he’s betting on paying off in the future. His current signings are showing glimpses of a bright future. However, Bowman will still need to figure out what to do at the goaltender position.
2021 NHL Entry Draft Picks/Prognosis
More than likely, Bowman won’t be drafting a player who is NHL ready, so any choice made in this draft will affect the Blackhawks in a few seasons. They have eight picks overall to use, including the 11th pick in Round 1. They might try to bring in a skilled forward with a defensive upside to him. It’s hard to know who will be available at the 11th pick, and with scouting at a minimum this past season, it might just be the luck of the draw.
Off-Season Wishlist/Checklist and Prognosis for 2021-22
The Blackhawks need to consider targeting a few free agents. However, with the veterans they have and the youth they’ll eventually need to pay, they might stay relatively quiet on the free-agent front. They do need to figure out the goaltending situation and who will fit into the lines. If there are still questions about the viability of Toews, Seabrook, or any other player, then the 2021-22 season might not be as hopeful as the front office and fans think it might be.
Follow Liz Pendergraft on Twitter @lizzibear824
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