David Tews The Hockey Writers
Examining Chicago’s Offense Entering Game 6
From 2009 when he joined the Blackhawks until the end of the 2014-15 regular season, Marian Hossa averaged .37 goals and .85 points per game. This regular season he averaged .2 goals and .52 points per game as he registered his lowest point output since his rookie season. It’s no secret that 2015-16 wasn’t Hossa’s season, but that also doesn’t mean that he and the rest of the Blackhawks’ offense aren’t on the verge of a major breakthrough versus the Blues.
Hossa, for instance, had one of his best games of the season on Thursday night while recording one goal, seven shots, and seven scoring chances (according to war-on-ice). Additionally, the combination of Hossa, Artemi Panarin, Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, and Andrew Ladd have registered a 55% CF rating this postseason while also recording 69 scoring chances at 5v5. Players as skilled as those top five typically don’t remain this cold (the team has only scored 12 goals through five games) when they are generating scoring chances at such a high rate as well.
The above graph shows that the GF% of these top players is in a flux of sorts; half of them seem to be trending upwards, while the other half are struggling to remain a plus. However, if you look at a similar graph that measures CF% instead of GF%, it becomes clear that every one of Chicago’s top players is currently trending in the right direction.
This leads me to believe that it won’t be long before Ladd and Hossa catch up to the production of Kane, Toews, and Panarin early on in the postseason. Which is especially important considering that the Hawks are on the verge of elimination with a crucial game six at home approaching.
What is Needed to Win
The Blackhawks are already 2-1 when scoring three of more goals this series, and the excellent play of Corey Crawford suggests that three will be all the team needs to walk away with a win tonight. And if I had to bet on whether or not Ladd and Hossa would combine for more than two points in 12 games this postseason, I would take the over. Having those two paired together on the third line will hopefully be enough to spark them simultaneously.
Bringing Shaw and Teravainen up to the first and second lines, respectively, also give those players a chance to break out and increase the production of those around them, especially Artem Anisimov. With a top-9 as talented as the one the Blackhawks have assembled, I know that it’s only a matter of time until the entire unit breaks out, providing the spark the team needs to stay alive in the playoffs.
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